Distinction Program

Students may request or be invited by faculty to be considered for departmental distinction, which has the following requirements.


  • 2 courses beyond the requirements for the major, one of which must include a major research paper completed in the candidate's senior year. Specific requirements vary by language. Interdisciplinary projects will be accepted on a case to case basis.

  • 3.5 GPA in major (by the middle of junior year) 


Junior Year (Fall)

  • The student requests to graduate with departmental distinction or is invited by a faculty member.A faculty member cannot propose more than two students for departmental distinction per academic year.

  • The student selects a faculty member to serve as thesis director, who will then assess the student’s interest in writing a thesis, possible topics, potential for independent work, and for attaining a reasonable degree of originality in the final product.

  • The thesis director approves the project topic.

  • The student and the professor work informally on the project proposal (no credit hours)

Junior Year (Spring)

  • The last week of March, (or the last week of October for seniors graduating in December), the thesis director discusses the student's candidacy with and presents a short thesis proposal to the area faculty. Students may be allotted an additional 2 weeks to revise and resubmit their proposal based on faculty feedback.

  • The proposal (2 pages in length plus bibliography) should clearly define the goal of the project, select a theoretical framework, explain the methodology and list primary and secondary sources.

Senior Year (Fall)

Throughout the senior year, workshops will be scheduled for all students writing theses to work on various aspects of the research and writing process.

  • The approved student enrolls in 5380 (Tutorial for Seniors). Tutorial grades are based on satisfactory completion (B+ or above) of 2 assignments (evaluated by thesis director): an annotated bibliography and a detailed outline of the thesis project.

  • In consultation with the thesis director, the student chooses 2 professors whose area of research is closest to the work of the student and these three professors will form the thesis committee.

Senior Year (Spring)

  • Upon successful completion of 5380 ( B+ or above), the student enrolls in 5381 (Tutorial for Seniors).

  • The thesis director sets deadlines for thesis chapters, with which the student must compl.

  • The student must have the thesis complete and ready for review by mid-April (or mid-November for seniors graduating in December).

  • Thestudent defends the thesis before the committee (i.e. three evaluating professors). The defense is public, with others welcome to attend, but questions will be directed to the student only by the members of the committee who have read and evaluated the thesis. The thesis committee rules on whether to award distinction at the end of the defense.

Thesis Format: 

  • Must be written in Spanish. This requirement will be waived in certain cases, particularly for interdisciplinary or interdepartmental theses.

  • Must follow MLA formatting for interdisciplinary and literature-based projects and LSA or APA for linguistics-based projects.

  • Must be 7,000-12,000 words (including title page, abstract, acknowledgements, table of contents, table of figures, appendices, indices, etc.)