Honors Program

Graduating with Classics Honors (revised Fall 2011)

Students graduating from CU Boulder with honorsThe Classics Department encourages eligible majors (those who have a minimum 3.3 general GPA and a minimum 3.5 Classics GPA) to pursue a degree with honors. This represents a special educational opportunity, including thoughtful advising and close contact with Classics faculty, for motivated students. Many CU alumni who graduated with honors regard it as the most challenging and rewarding aspect of their undergraduate experience.

If you are interested in exploring this option, please see the Honors Representative for Classics at least three semesters in advance of your anticipated graduation date. We also encourage freshmen in particular to explore the possibilities offered by the CU Honors Program as a whole (for information, please visit http://www.colorado.edu/honors/index.html).

Students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree from CU or any other institution are not eligible. This includes students who have graduated in one major and are finishing a second major.

Honors Designations

The Classics Department offers qualified undergraduate majors the opportunity to earn their B.A. with one of three possible honors designations: cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude. These honors designations are recognized by a certificate and an Honors medal; they are noted in the graduation program and indicated as Honors on the diploma.

The honors designation depends on three areas of academic achievement:

  1. The candidate’s academic record, as represented by their GPA;
  2. The quality of the thesis in terms of research, written style, clarity of argument, and synthesis of material;
  3. The quality of the oral defense of the thesis.

To be eligible for a ‘cum laude’ designation, a student should maintain a 3.3 general GPA and a 3.5 Classics GPA; to be eligible for a ‘magna cum laude’ designation, a student should maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5 and a Classics GPA of at least 3.7; to be eligible for a ‘summa cum laude’ designation, a student should maintain both a general and a Classics GPA of at least 3.8. Only in rare cases will the level of Honors recommended deviate from the level that corresponds to the student’s GPA. 

Requirements for Honors in Classics

The famous Colusseum Registration:

All proposals for Departmental Honors theses must be reviewed and approved by the Honors Office. Therefore, in the semester before you graduate, you will need to complete the registration form for graduation with Honors (available here: www.colorado.edu/honors/documents/RegistrationtoGraduatewithHonors.pdf) and submit it to the Honors Office in Norlin M400L by the posted deadline (see Graduation with Honors Deadlines, available here: www.colorado.edu/honors/graduation/index.html).

Course work:

There is currently no specific course for which you need to register to graduate with Classics Honors. You may, however, register for an independent study of between 1 and 3 credits geared specifically towards research and writing of your honors thesis. This independent study allows you a forum for individual weekly meetings with your thesis advisor and gives you the means to earn credit for the hours you put in on your thesis work. It can be counted toward the 36 hours of required course work for the Classics major. The registrar’s designation for such work is CLAS 4852. Should you wish to register for such credit, please acquire an independent study form from the staff in the Classics front office in advance of the semester in which you wish to pursue the independent study and fill it out in consultation with your thesis advisor.

The thesis:

The principal requirement for graduating with Honors in Classics is represented by the honors thesis, a significant extended essay (typically 30-50 pages) on a topic within the field of Classics chosen by the student in consultation with and approved by the thesis director. To qualify as an honors thesis, this essay should demonstrate scholarship, originality and thoroughness. It will typically involve work over a five- or six-month period and report original research.

You should select a topic for research at least three semesters in advance of graduation. Contact the Classics Honors Council Representative and the faculty member under whose supervision you would like to work. If you are unsure about whom to approach for supervision, consult the Honors Representative for advice.

The oral defense of the thesis: 

Once your written thesis is complete, you will defend it before an examination committee. This committee consists of the student’s thesis director and two other members approved by the Honors Council Representative for Classics. One member must be an Honors Council Representative, and one member must be from an outside department. You may have more than three committee members. It is the candidate’s responsibility to see that the committee is constituted correctly and to schedule the examination.

The student consults with the members of the committee to determine the date and time of the oral defense.  For December graduates, defenses are held the first week of November; for May graduates, the first week of April. (No defenses are held in the summer.) Students should be in touch with all members of their committee at least one month before the defense to discuss the defense scheduling.

During the defense, which will normally last around one hour, committee members question the student about the thesis and related issues.