Honors Track and Senior Thesis

Honors Track

Russian majors are admitted into the Honors Track by application during the spring semester of the junior year. To receive honors, a student must:

complete all requirements for the full major in Russian, maintaining a GPA of at least 3.5 in the major;
enroll in a 40000-level course in literature/culture in Russian during both semesters of senior year;
register for two 1-credit enrichment courses (RU 47100) in the senior year (graded satisfactory-unsatisfactory);
and receive a grade of A- or higher for a substantial Honors Thesis written in English.  Closely supervised by one of the Russian faculty in the Department of German and Russian Languages and Literatures, the Russian Honors Thesis is to be the product of a two three-credit Honors Track directed reading courses taken in the senior year- one in the fall semester, the other in the spring.

Enrichment Activities
In addition to working closely with an advisor, Honors Track students are required to enrich their experience by becoming involved in appropriate group activities during the senior year. This includes registering for the one-credit enrichment course RU 47100 during both semesters of the senior year; the course requires students to attend Russian cultural events and lectures on Russian and East European topics sponsored by the Department of German and Russian, the Program in Russian and East European Studies, and other entities within the College of Arts and Letters. Students are also encouraged to meet periodically with other Russian Honors Track students and/or students writing senior theses in Russian and East European Studies (when appropriate) to discuss the progress of their work, share drafts, and provide feedback, suggestions, and support to one another.  Students will present an oral defense of their theses before the Russian faculty in late April/early May. 

Eligibility and Application Process
All students completing the full major in Russian who carry a GPA of at least 3.5 in the major are eligible to apply for admission to the Honors Track and will receive a letter of eligibility by March 1 of their junior year. To apply, a student must enlist the support of a professor on the Russian faculty and must ensure the professor's willingness to act as his/her thesis advisor on a topic of the student's own devising. By April 15 of junior year, the student should submit a 250- to 300-word thesis proposal to the prospective faculty advisor. The proposal will then be shared with the full Russian faculty. The proposal should define the topic of the thesis and outline what the student hopes to accomplish in the Honors Thesis. In addition, the student should explain how the thesis topic relates to his/her intellectual interests more generally (why is this topic an appropriate culmination to his/her undergraduate studies?) and, where appropriate, how the topic figures into the student's future intellectual and academic plans.

Students submitting proposals will be notified by May 1 of their junior year whether they have been accepted into the Honors Track in Russian.


Timeline for Students Accepting an Invitation to Write an Honors Thesis

  • kandinskyAbstract study by Vasily Kandinsky 

    August: register for the Area Studies Enrichment Course (RU 47100) and Honors Thesis Research and Writing I (RU 48410).
  • September 15: submit to the thesis advisor a revised and enlarged (2-page) prospectus reflecting any further reading or thinking about the thesis topic that occurred over the summer months.
  • October 15: submit a draft of the introduction and a bibliography (listing both primary and secondary sources) to the thesis advisor.
  • November 15: submit a draft of the first 5 pages of the thesis to the advisor.
  • December: register for the Area Studies Enrichment Course (RU 47100) and Honors Thesis Research and Writing II (RU 48420).
  • December 10: submit a draft of the first 10 pages of the thesis to the advisor (including revisions suggested earlier to the first 5 pages).
  • Mid-March (first Monday after Spring Break): submit completed draft of the thesis to advisor.
  • April 15: submit final version of thesis incorporating revisions suggested by advisor.
  • Late April/Early May: candidate's oral defense of thesis before the Russian faculty.


Parameters for the Honors Essay in Russian

bellsEvening Bells (1892) by Isaac Levitan 

Topic: a problem in Russian literary culture

Length: 25-35 pages (including notes and bibliography)

Language: English

Primary Sources: Russian

Secondary Sources: primarily in English; some in Russian

Format: journal article submission with bibliography and footnotes

Advisor: from Russian faculty of the Department of German and Russian Languages and Literatures

Grading: The grade will be determined in accordance with the following criteria: the originality of the argument, the effective use of supporting evidence, and the extent to which the thesis is well-structured, well-edited, and uses a clear, cogent writing style. The thesis should also adhere to accepted conventions for quoting and citing sources. Students fulfilling all requirements for the Honors Track who receive a grade of "A-" or higher on the thesis, complete all requirements, and maintain at least a 3.5 GPA in the Russian major will graduate with honors. Students who fail to attain a grade of "A-" or better on the thesis will not receive honors but will still receive credit for the thesis.  The student's advisor is the primary grader of the thesis, but he/she will also consult other members of the Russian faculty and, if appropriate, faculty from other departments.