History Department
History Department

Undergraduate History Honors Program

Director, Denise A. Spellberg, Professor
Email: spellberg@austin.utexas.edu

Next application period: application deadline is Monday, October 19, 2020, at midnight. ALL APPLICATIONS ONLINE ONLY.

The Honors Program in History gives students the opportunity to do independent research in the form of a senior thesis. It is a three-semester program with

  • a small seminar on research and writing in the spring of junior year,
  • two semesters of independent research under the supervision of a faculty member, and
  • a 50-70 page thesis.

Since the program consists of one spring semester and two full semesters afterwards, students should apply during the early fall of their junior year. Applications should be submitted electronically and all additional materials should be emailed to the History Advising Office.

First Years and Sophomores

  • If you're considering the honors program, consult with the Director or the Advising Office in your freshman or sophomore years for advice about preparation and scheduling.
  • Students often want to combine Honors in History with study abroad, the Normandy Scholar Program, or other programs. In most cases, we can accommodate this, but it helps to plan ahead. See the Director.
  • We encourage students enrolled in the Honors Program to take other upper level History courses and especially seminars (HIS 350Ls or HIS 350Rs) in their field of interest as soon as they can. These courses provide valuable background and writing experience.
  • Since the Honors Program application requires a letter of recommendation, we encourage students to interact and work closely with UT History faculty members before their junior year.

Juniors: How to Apply

We choose participants based on their writing sample, course background, commitment, and grades.


  • upper division standing
  • have at least a 3.0 UT Austin GPA and a 3.5 GPA in HISTORY
  • the motivation and ability to do intense research and writing

Application Components:

  • an electronic application
  • a writing sample
  • a discussion of a possible thesis topic
  • a letter of recommendation


  • In many cases, students can combine Honors and studying abroad. Consult with the Honors Director. 
  • Normandy Scholar Program (NSP) students may substitute an approved upper-division NSP History course for the HIS 347L requirement.
  • Transfer students should consult Honors Director. 
  • Students hoping to do honors programs in two different majors (e.g., Government and History) need to write two separate theses or seek departmental honors in only one of their two majors.
  • Plan II majors seeking "Special Honors in History" through the History Honors Program, should apply to the program and, once accepted, meet with the Plan II advisors to review procedures and options.

Admitted Juniors and Seniors

Thesis writers are strongly encouraged to apply for the Rapoport-King Thesis Scholarships in the fall of their senior year. The Director will keep you informed about any other fellowship opportunities.


Spring ONLY - HIS 347L Seminar in Historiography (PDF, 44 KB)

This course is only offered in the spring, and taught by the Honors Director. The seminar in historiography is designed to prepare students for their senior research projects. Students are introduced to a variety of historical methods and approaches; they are required to write a thesis prospectus; and, with the help of the Honors Director, they choose a thesis advisor from the History faculty.


Fall - HIS 679HA Honors Tutorial Course (senior thesis, first semester)
Spring - HIS 679HB Honors Tutorial Course (senior thesis, second semester)

Each honors student researches and writes a senior thesis during the fall and spring semesters. That research is supervised by a History faculty advisor. The thesis must be based on the student's independent and original research in primary as well as secondary sources. Each student takes an oral examination in their thesis field and is invited to present the research in a public forum at the end of the spring semester.  The thesis must earn a grade of no lower than "B" to qualify the student for "Special Honors in History" upon graduation.

The faculty thesis advisor and a second reader grade each thesis. The second reader is usually a historian whose field is related to that of the thesis. In some cases in which another discipline is involved, the second reader may be a member of another department. The honors director, the thesis advisor, and the student work out a timetable for completing the various stages of the work so that the thesis can be submitted a month prior to the end of the spring semester. Failure to complete the requirements by applicable deadlines will keep the student from graduating and/or receiving certain honors.

Guidelines for History Honors Theses:

Honors theses are expected to conform to these formatting standards:

  1. They should be 50 to 100 pages long.
  2. Lines should be double-spaced.
  3. The margins should be 1’’.
  4. The font should be 12 point Times New Roman.
  5. Notes should be footnotes formatted according to the Chicago Manual of Style guidelines.
  6. They should include a bibliography formatted according to the Chicago Manual of Style guidelines (note that the footnote and bibliography formats are different).
  7. They should include a Title Page and a Signature Page. The Signature Page should include the names of both the Honors Thesis Advisor and the Second Reader.

Students should email PDF copies to history-advisors@utlists.utexas.edu.

A Quick Guide to Chicago Manual of Style citations can be found at http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html.

Final requirements at graduation

From Course Catalog for 2018-2020:

The requirements for graduation with special honors, which are in addition to the requirements of the major are:

  1. History 347L, Seminar in Historiography, normally taken in the spring semester of the junior year; this course may be counted toward the thirty hours in history required for the major;
  2. History 679H, Honors Tutorial Course, with a grade of at least B in each half;
  3. Satisfactory performance on an oral examination centered on the thesis completed in History 679HB;
  4. A University grade point average of at least 3.00 and a grade point average of at least 3.50 in the coursework required for the major and for honors; and
  5. Completion in residence at the University of at least sixty semester hours of coursework counted toward the degree.

Normandy Scholar Program (NSP) students may substitute an approved upper-division NSP history course for the History 347L requirement.

In general, failure to meet all requirements will not keep a student from graduating, but the student would not receive "Special Honors in History."

if you have any questions, email the History Advisors at:

For more information about the application, see Honors Application Handout.

Last updated: September 24, 2020