Departmental Distinction

Departmental Distinction is an honor awarded to students who have done extraordinary work in their English classes and have completed a sequence of advanced courses.

Students invited to do the Departmental Distinction in English must have an overall GPA of at least 3.0 by the middle of the junior year, and a 3.5 average or better in courses fulfilling requirements for the English major.  They must also have completed ENGL 3310 and one 4000-level ENGL course, or have the consent of the Distinction Seminar instructor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies.


To earn Departmental Distinction, students must fulfill all requirements for the major and complete at least 36 hours in English, 6 of which are specifically devoted to Distinction, as detailed below.

Eligible candidates will be invited to enroll in English 5310 (Distinction Seminar) in the Fall semester of their senior year. The Distinction Seminar will focus on a broad literary subject or topic of the instructor’s choice with significant exposure to relevant criticism and theory. Students will receive training in research and project formulation, preparing them to complete a Senior Project in the spring. Successful completion of 5310 requires students to earn a B+ or better and to have a formally approved Senior Project proposal by the exam date for the class.

Senior Project proposals must be approved by a primary faculty supervisor, as well as the DUS or department chair; candidates will then enroll in an Independent Studies course (English 5381, 5382, 5383) in which they will write a Senior Project of at least 30 pages. The Project must be read and approved by a second faculty member with relevant expertise, chosen jointly by the student and the faculty supervisor for the Project. Alternatively, a candidate may enroll in a Graduate Proseminar (6000-level) with special permission from the instructor, the Director of Graduate Studies, and the DUS or department chair. Students in the Creative Writing Specialization may, with permission, substitute Independent Studies in Poetry Writing or Fiction Writing (English 4393, 4394, 4395, or 4396). Candidates must earn a grade of B+ or better in any of these options in order to be awarded Distinction.

None of these options may be substituted for courses that fulfill the requirement for 4000-level literature courses.


To receive Departmental Distinction, candidates must complete the above requirements and attain a 3.5 grade point average in all English Department courses counting toward the major.