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Candidates for admission to the English Honors Program will normally apply during the fall or spring semester of their Junior year. Candidates for admission in the Literature or Communication and Technology Track must submit to the Director of the Honors Program two essays or research projects, along with a current transcript (which need not be official) and an Honors Program Application. The sample projects must be college‑level, research-based work, written or created on a subject appropriate to the candidate’s Track. Candidates who wish to concentrate in creative writing must submit one critical essay and two or three selections of creative work in your chosen genre.

Honors Program applications are accepted in either semester of the junior year (although consideration will be given to earlier applications under special circumstances and after consultation with the Honors Program Director). Applications will be evaluated by the Honors Program Committee, which consists of the Honors Program Director and two members of the faculty.

The admissions essay(s) and creative work must meet a standard of “A” work. It must rise above mere correctness or completeness to achieve unusual perceptiveness or insight and maturity of thought and expression.

NOTE:  The Honors Program Committee reserves the right to modify the above policy so as to accommodate the late‑bloomer, the student changing to English from another major, and other promising students whose academic circumstances are in some way outstanding.  For example, students who have met the Department’s eligibility standards by the beginning of their Senior year may petition for admission to the Departmental Honors Program.  This petition will be adjudicated by the Honors Program Committee.  Students so admitted will be allowed to graduate with Honors in English upon satisfactory completion of all senior year Honors requirements.

A GPA of 3.5 in the major and 3.0 in non‑major courses will normally be required, though students deficient here may be accepted into the program on strong faculty recommendation. In general, however, the English Honors Program is designed for students whose serious interest in literature or communication and technology will normally have been demonstrated in written work by the time they apply.

Students are encouraged to discuss their research interests with the Honors Program Director before being admitted to the Program, so that the Director, in consultation with the Honors Committee, can recommend appropriate faculty advisers.  Even at this early stage students should be prepared to discuss a list of topics, authors, works, genres, or periods from which a suitable Senior Honors Project might be developed.



1. ENGL 399: During fall semester of the Senior year—or, alternatively, in the spring semester of the Junior year—

Registration for ENGL 399 requires permission from the Director of the English Honors Program.  The course will receive two Honors credits. It can be added to the student’s courses during early registration at the end of the spring semester or in the fall.  Enrollment in this course constitutes formal admission into the English Honors Program.

ENGL 399 requires the conception and development of a research project in Literature or Communications and Technology, or a Creative Writing project. Honors candidates will work closely with their advisors to produce a prospectus and annotated bibliography.  In the case of CT projects (some of which might not require a standard bibliography) the advisor and candidate will develop an appropriate set of criteria to replace the bibliography.  Similarly, Creative Writing Honors projects will require bibliographies primarily for the critical section of 499. Students will choose their thesis advisors in consultation with the Honors Program Director, although it is always helpful to apply to the program with an idea of a possible advisor.  Students will meet at least five times each semester with advisors; each meeting will be accounted for on a sign-off sheet which the adviser will sign and date.  At the end of the semester students will receive a grade for the course only if the Honors Director receives a graded prospectus and bibliography (or the equivalent) accompanied by the completed sign-off sheet.

Workshops: All Honors students, both in 399 and 499 will also be required to attend 4-5 mandatory Friday workshops each semester from 12 PM-2.  Students accepted into the Honors Program should arrange their schedules to accommodate the workshops. Exceptions will be made only on application to the Director. These workshops are unsupervised by faculty and provide honors students in both 399 and 499 the opportunity to share their work and to help each other during the revision process. A Blackboard site has been set up for 399/499 on which all honors students are expected to post their work prior to workshops.

At the end of the semester, all Honors submissions should be sent electronically to the Honors Director to be archived.

2. ENGL 499: Honors students enrolled in ENGL 499 will complete the Senior Honors Project (worth four Honors credits).  This project is a continuation of the work begun in ENGL 399.  Research projects in Literature, hybrid/multimodal projects in Communications and Technology, and Creative Writing projects should enable students to pursue an inquiry of special interest, and to gain valuable experience in planning and executing a semester-long undertaking, the foundations of which they have already laid in ENGL 399.  With the exception of Creative Writing projects (see supplementary information on creative writing below), all matters pertaining to the subject, scope, purpose, methodology, and length of the Senior Honors Project will be determined by the individual candidate and his or her Honors Thesis Advisor.

Workshops: As noted above, 499 students will continue to participate in mandatory Friday workshops (12 PM-2) in their second semester in the program.

In Literature, ENGL 499 requires the completion of a 25-50 page research paper. In Communications and Technology, students have a choice of completing a 25-50 page research paper, a multimodal project of equivalent intellectual scope and merit, or an appropriate combination of both these elements. In addition to the research paper, students are required to participate in an oral examination (lasting approximately one hour).  During the oral exam, a three-person committee, composed by the student in consultation with his or her adviser, poses questions related to the Honors project.  The specific structure of this exam will be determined by individual advisers: for example, it might be that in some cases a list of possible discussion topics will be provided in advance of the exam; or that committee members will submit questions to the adviser.

The advisor will determine the final grade for 499 based on the research paper and the oral examination, in consultation with the two faculty members.  All three committee members will have an equal vote. As in 399, students will receive a grade for the course only if the Honors Director receives the advisor’s final grade accompanied by a completed sign-off sheet demonstrating that the student and the advisor have met at least five times during the semester.  A grade on the Honors Project of B‑minus or higher is required for successful completion of the Honors Program.

a) The Senior Honors Project (ENGL 499) may be counted only as an English elective.
b) A record of English Honors appears only on the student’s transcript, not on the UMBC diploma.



  1. English Honors candidates specializing in creative writing must complete ENGL 399 and 499 as described above.  But for creative writing students both ENGL 399 and ENGL 499 take special forms.  The creative writing student will use ENGL 399 to begin creative work or continue creative work already under way, after choosing an advisor from among those members of the Literature and Writing faculty who teach creative writing.  Further, the student will choose an author on whom to write the critical and interpretive essay for ENGL 499.
  2. For creative writing students only ENGL 499 has a tripartite structure consisting of: (1) a critical essay, (2) a body of creative work, and (3) a self‑analysis or self‑evaluation.  The critical essay is designed to give the creative writing student an opportunity to come to terms with the work of an author whom the student finds important as a model or influence on his or her own work; it will normally be approximately 15 pages.  The amount or length of the student’s creative work will vary according to genre: 15 to 25 pages of poetry, 40‑60 or more pages of prose fiction, one or two one‑act plays, or a substantial portion of a full‑length play—these estimates give a rough indication of minimum standards.  The self‑evaluation is of no prescribed length and should focus on the creative work done for the Senior Honors Project.

NOTE: The three tasks collected under the rubric of ENGL 499 (the Creative Writing Project) will normally take more than one semester to complete.  Consequently, a typical schedule for a creative writing project might require the critical essay to be due in the 399 semester with the body of creative work and the self‑analysis due in the following semester, under the rubric of 499.  Creative writing thesis advisors will work out individual schedules for each advisee, but students are strongly encouraged to get to work early on the critical essay so as to have time enough for their creative work and self‑evaluation.

NB: If students plan on December graduation, they must complete 399 in the previous spring semester and 499 in the fall.



  1. Satisfactory performance (with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or above) in English courses totaling not less than 39 credits, of which six will be Honors credits;
  2. satisfactory completion of ENGL 399, Introduction to Honors Project (two Honors credits);
  3. satisfactory completion of ENGL 499, Senior Honors Project (four Honors credits);
  4. finally, the passing of an Honors Oral Examination.  The Honors Oral Examination will normally take place during the last two weeks of the semester.  Honors students must submit copies of the finished Honors Project to the advisors and committee members at the latest two weeks before the oral exam.  At the conclusion of the exam, committee members might recommend revisions to the research paper.  If so, the student must complete these revisions before receiving a grade.  Once the final paper has been submitted to the thesis advisor, the advisor will give to the Honors Director a grade for the project, a hard copy and an electronic copy of the entire research project.


Honors students will provide a description of their project and, if they are willing, a photograph of themselves, to appear on the Honors Program website both while they’re members of the program and, for a time, after they’ve graduated. Similarly, students should expect their Honors proposals and theses to become part of the website as samples for current and prospective students. (If a student objects to having his or her work on the website, please inform the Honors Director during the 399 semester.)