Departmental honors in Germanic Studies

If you are majoring in Germanic Studies with grade point averages of at least 3.5 in coursework in the department and 3.3 overall, you may apply for admission to the honors program. Ask for the recommendation of your instructor in a German course above G250 to apply for the honors program.

Your honors advisor recommends graduation with departmental honors in German on the basis of outstanding performance in the regular major program, in tutorials, and on the thesis. An honors designation is particularly valuable if you plan to apply to graduate or professional school.

What is required?

In addition to regular coursework towards their major, honors students complete between one and three honors tutorials (G399) as well as an honors thesis (G499). Honors work is guided and approved by the honors advisor, who also serves as your major advisor. Work in G399 and G499 is closely supervised by individual faculty members.

Honors thesis (G499)

Honors students will work closely with faculty to shape an appropriate thesis topic based on an area of interest. You should expect to develop the topic using original research or source material, sound methodological principles, analytical and interpretive writing, additional primary and secondary evidence, and background knowledge from the Germanic Studies curriculum. Empirical research should adhere to standard protocols for scientific research in the field. Alternative projects (e.g., film, web) of comparable scope will be considered on an individual basis by the director of undergraduate studies.

  • Gain an opportunity to explore in depth a topic of personal and scholarly interest
  • Work closely, one‐on‐one, with a faculty specialist
  • Create a scholarly work that could be used as a springboard into the postgraduate level
  • Gain the experience of presenting work in an academic forum

Identifying the faculty advisor is among the most critical tasks for writing an honors thesis. This should be done junior year, preferably on the basis of work completed in an upper level Germanic Studies class or otherwise in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies. If a student is studying abroad during junior year, he or she should contact potential advisors (or the director of undergraduate studies) by email.

A student writes a thesis over two semesters. The student enrolls in G399 (1‐3 credits) for developing the topic, writing an abstract, collecting a bibliography, and outlining a plan for completion. The student enrolls in G499 the following semester to complete work on and publicly present the thesis. Enrolling in G399 or G499 needs the approval of the director of undergraduate studies.

Normally a student decides to write an honors thesis in junior year. If a student is studying abroad during junior year, and decides to write an honors thesis while overseas, we strongly encourage the student to get in touch by email with a faculty member who is familiar with his or her work, in order to make advance arrangements for writing the thesis upon return. The normal completion deadline for an honors thesis will be six weeks before the date of graduation.

An honors thesis can be written in one of the Germanic languages covered in the department curriculum or in English. It should be substantially based either on original research or on primary source material in a Germanic language (other than English) and should address a theme relevant to Germanic language and culture broadly understood. A thesis written in a Germanic language (other than English) should in general be between 25 and 35 pages long. An English‐language thesis should be between 30 and 40 pages. The format will adhere to the current standard guidelines for academic writing in the field (e.g., MLA, APA, or LSA guidelines). Innovative projects will be considered in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies.

A thesis will be presented in a one‐hour colloquium, open to the public and advertised to all German majors, with the advisor and one additional thesis reader in attendance. The faculty advisor, with the director of undergraduate studies, will help find a second thesis reader, who will read the thesis, and following the colloquium, supply a grade. The final grade will be an average of the advisor and reader’s grades.

If a student is a joint major it is possible to write an honors theses for two departments, depending on the policies of the cooperating department. The exact arrangements must be worked out individually with the director of undergraduate studies and the cooperating department.

Delta Phi Alpha

Indiana University Bloomington sponsors a chapter of Delta Phi Alpha, the national German honor society. Each spring, a number of advanced German students (some of whom have outstanding records in German and in their studies overall but are not German majors) are invited to join. Delta Phi Alpha inductees pledge to continue their study of the German language, literature, and culture. Professor Ben Robinson is the faculty advisor.