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Northwestern University

Honors in Two Departments or Programs

Any student with two majors who is interested in doing honors in both subjects should alert each department or program in initial discussions about honors and mention it in both honors applications. (If the departments have different application deadlines, the student should still raise the issue with both at the earliest opportunity, and definitely by the end of spring of junior year.)

Two options are available:

Students interested in either option should:

Two separate honors projects

Some students will propose projects that are quite distinct. These students should meet with the honors coordinator in each of the two departments to discuss their plans for completing two separate honors projects, and they should complete the Application for Dual or Interdisciplinary Senior Honors Projects with each honors coordinator; the proposal should clearly document the substantial difference between the two planned projects. The application should be signed by the research adviser and the honors coordinator in each department and then submitted, along with the proposal, to the Office of Undergraduate Studies and Advising, 1922 Sheridan Road, for review by the College Committee on Undergraduate Academic Excellence.

Documents should be submitted by May 25 of the student's junior year. If the student meets both departments' honors requirements, he or she can then be nominated for honors in each department.

Honors in Interdisciplinary Studies

If a student proposes to write two papers that will overlap and inform each other (much as chapters in a book do) or, more dramatically, to do a single, synthetic project to be submitted jointly, a conversation must ensue between the appropriate members of both departments. It would be up to these faculty members to determine whether they are prepared to support such a project and, if so, to set some guidelines for the student (the length and scope of the paper, bibliography, research methods, and participation in the honors course work in each department, among other things). Because the finished project will be considered for honors in two departments, it should be somehow more ambitious than a regular honors thesis—such as in the number and variety of the sources consulted, the analytical methods used, or the sophistication of the problem being addressed. However, this does not necessarily mean that the finished paper or papers must be longer than a normal honors thesis. Supporting a request to write an interdisciplinary honors thesis (or theses) would also oblige the mentors in both departments to stay in touch with each other periodically during the preparation of the paper(s), especially in cases in which a single synthetic thesis is envisioned. Normally, students will be expected to register for and to successfully complete the honors sequences in both departments.

Application for Interdisciplinary Honors

  1. Students with adjunct majors

    Students with adjunct majors—African Studies, Geography, International Studies, Legal Studies, Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences, Science in Human Culture, or Urban Studies (the Urban Studies adjunct major is available only to students who entered Northwestern before Fall 2015)—can submit a proposal to their program director to pursue interdisciplinary honors between the adjunct major and (typically) their other required major by writing an interdisciplinary thesis.  For each proposal, the director will make sure that the appropriate faculty member(s) have helped with the proposal, approved it, and have agreed to advise the student over the course of the thesis-writing period.  Typically there will be two faculty members, one from each major.  If the director approves the proposal, the student will complete the appropriate form (Application for Dual or Interdisciplinary Senior Honors Projects) and obtain the necessary signatures (two Thesis Program Coordinators and two faculty adviser signatures). The signed form and the proposal will be submitted to Ann Marshall, associate director for undergraduate academic affairs, at the Office of Undergraduate Studies and Advising, 1922 Sheridan Road.

    For June 2018 graduates, these forms are due on May 25, 2017.
  1.  Students with free-standing majors

    Students with two free-standing majors who wish to pursue interdisciplinary honors by writing an interdisciplinary thesis must submit a proposal to their two Thesis Coordinators. Both coordinators will make sure that the appropriate faculty members, typically one in each department or program, helped with the proposal, approved it, and have agreed to advise the student over the course of the thesis-writing period. 

    Once the coordinators have approved the proposal, the student will complete the appropriate form, Application for Dual or Interdisciplinary Senior Honors Projects, obtain the necessary signatures, and submit the form and proposal to Ann Marshall at the Office of Undergraduate Studies and Advising, 1922 Sheridan Road. Submitted documents will then be reviewed by the Weinberg College Committee on Undergraduate Academic Excellence (CUAE).

    For June 2018 graduates, these forms and proposals are due on May 25, 2017.  Students will be informed of the CUAE’s decision.

    Evaluation of interdisciplinary theses: When the paper or papers are finished, they should be evaluated through the ordinary department channels, and if the work passes muster in both departments, the student should then be nominated for honors in interdisciplinary studies in the two subjects. For example, a student could be nominated for graduation with "honors for interdisciplinary studies in Sociology and Political Science," rather than for separate honors in each department. If the departments disagree in their assessments, it would be possible to nominate the student for honors in one subject only.

Revised March 28, 2017 Back to top