Honors Program

Our Honors Program offers the opportunity to pursue advanced study in English literature, professional and technical writing, or creative writing, to work in independent studies and small classes with English Department faculty, and to learn from and with a small peer group of students.

Honors Courses

The English Honors Program consists of twelve units (four courses): two sections of an exclusive honors seminar (496A Honors section) and two independent studies (498H), normally taken in the fall and spring of the senior year, during which the student writes a thesis. The courses can also fulfill requirements for the major and for the Honors College (if applicable). Many English Honors students are double majors, or plan a semester abroad during their junior or senior year; the requirements for the English Honors Program can usually be successfully coordinated with these individual needs. The thesis can be counted for Honors College credit (Honors College students who are also English Honors only have to write a single thesis for both programs).

Honors Seminars

The Honors seminars are exclusive and challenging small topical seminars that will provide not only advanced study in a topic of the faculty member’s research specialty, but also advanced training in the critical reading, argumentative writing, and research discipline necessary to pursue independent thesis research. Since English Honors cohorts usually comprise English, Professional and Technical Writing (PTW), and Creative Writing majors, the seminar faculty are encouraged to incorporate some creative assignments into the coursework. English Honors students must take two designated English Honors seminars, and one is offered every semester.

Honors Thesis

The honors thesis is a substantial and original piece of critical or creative work that forms the signal achievement and culmination of the student’s undergraduate career. Students may apply to write a creative thesis, a thesis in English literature, a thesis in professional and technical writing, or some combination of the three.

The English Lit or PTW thesis is a long essay modeled after published scholarship in the discipline of English or PTW and written under the advisement of a member of the English faculty. It should advance an original and well-researched argument that participates in existing scholarly debates about a topic of the student’s choosing. Critical theses may be of any length, but customarily they are 25 to 50 pages.

The creative thesis is a substantial piece of creative writing in one of three genres—fiction, nonfiction, or poetry—written under the advisement of a member of the creative writing faculty. Note: Students wishing to write a creative thesis are strongly encouraged to apply for English Honors. Due to great demand and limited faculty availability, students accepted into the English Honors program will be prioritized for thesis advising.

English Honors Thesis Independent Study Form

Creative Writing Thesis Advising Guide for Faculty

Application Process and Requirements

Any student may apply for English Honors, regardless of their major or their college. Transfer students are eligible to apply. Students in the Honors College must apply as other students for admission to English Honors, and admitted students are not required to join the Honors College. Since the English Honors program usually takes three semesters to complete, it is best to apply before the final three semesters of a student’s undergraduate career. Students with only a single semester left in their undergraduate study will most likely not be admitted. Applications are only accepted in mid- to late October, and decisions are made in early November.

Students who miss the application deadline but are able to turn in all materials before the committee meets to review, usually within 1-2 weeks of the application deadline, may be considered but will not be prioritized. After the committee reviews and makes decisions, no further applications for that year will be considered.

Honors College Note: Honors College students who are only applying for a creative writing thesis (not English Honors) may turn in applications after the application deadline. These will be considered on a rolling basis but will not be prioritized for Creative Writing faculty advising.

Applicants should submit a completed application form, which includes a writing sample, a personal statement, and the names of two faculty members who will serve as references. 

Faculty references will be contacted by the department directly. Faculty references do not have to be members of UA faculty, but should have instructed the student at some point (transfer students may list as references faculty from prior institutions). Students may find it beneficial to ask faculty members for permission to list them as references prior to doing so.

Full instructions and information about submitting application materials can be found on the English Honors and Thesis Application Form 2023.


If you have any questions on this process, please contact Program Coordinator, Sharonne Meyerson (sharonne@arizona.edu) with questions about the application process, or the Honors Program faculty coordinator, Dennis Wise (dwwise@arizona.edu), with questions about the program curriculum and coursework.


Frequently Asked Questions

The difference is that students, whether Honors College or not, must apply to the English department to be admitted into English Honors. English Honors is free, but is restricted to just the small cohort that is admitted each year. If you are an Honors College student, but have not been accepted to English Honors, you may not take English Honors seminars.

No. The honors 496A classes are split into two co-convened sections for enrollment purposes so that Honors College students who are also English Honors students may receive honors credit in their college. Because Honors College students cannot receive Honors College credit for any class that is open to non-Honors College students, we must split the class enrollment into a non-Honors and an Honors section. But both sections are restricted to English Honors students only, and both sections meet at the same time and in the same classroom—they are effectively the same class. Since all English Honors classes are enrolled by department consent, we will enroll you into the appropriate section.

Many of the English Honors students who were also Honors College students have reported that the English Honors program was the most intellectually stimulating aspect of their undergraduate careers. You only have to write one thesis to satisfy both Honors College and English Honors requirements. And, if you’re a creative writing major, being accepted into the English Honors program prioritizes your application, per Creative Writing faculty policy, to write a creative writing thesis under creative writing faculty advisement.

Yes, transfer students are eligible to apply. You can use instructors from your former institution or current faculty for your faculty references.

No. Honors College students who want to write a creative thesis with CW faculty but do not want to fulfill the other requirements of English Honors may apply for a Creative Writing faculty advisor using the same application form. There is a checkbox on the form through which to indicate that preference.

Depends. If you have missed the English Honors deadline by only a few days or a few weeks, contact the English Undergraduate Office. If the committee has not met yet to make decisions, it is possible to turn in your application late. After the decisions are made, no more applications will be accepted for review. If you are applying only for a Creative Writing faculty thesis advisor and not for English Honors, then you may turn in your application late. Late applications in these cases will be considered on a rolling basis but will not be prioritized.