Honors in Philosophy

Coordinator of Honors: Professor Neil Lewis

Overview of Program

In order to receive honors in philosophy, majors must complete the honors program. The qualifications for admission to the program are as follows:

1) A major in philosophy

2) A minimum 3.67 GPA in philosophy courses taken at Georgetown

3) A minimum of six philosophy courses taken at Georgetown, at least three of which must be at the 200-level or above

4) Completion of an application, available from the department’s Coordinator of Honors

In unusual circumstances, a student who does not meet either requirement (2) or (3) may petition the Coordinator of Honors for an exception.

Once admitted to the program, a student spends one full year writing an honors thesis. In the typical sequence, the student takes a one-credit pass/fail research tutorial during the fall semester. At the end of the fall semester, the student must submit a detailed thesis proposal to the Undergraduate Committee for approval. If the Undergraduate Committee approves the proposal, the student enrolls in a three-credit tutorial in the spring semester, during which the student will complete the writing of the thesis. The thesis must be defended at the end of the semester before a committee appointed by the Coordinator of Honors. If the thesis defense is successful, the student will receive honors in philosophy. More information is available from the Coordinator of Honors.

Evaluation of Honors Theses Proposals

The Undergraduate Committee will look for a thesis proposal that accomplishes the aims indicated below, secures the thesis supervisor’s recommendation, and shows sufficient evidence that the thesis will be successfully completed during the following semester. The thesis proposal should be ten pages plus a one or two page bibliography and include a 100-word abstract. It is important to note that it is not a paper, but is a project description. In writing the thesis proposal, the student should:

  1. Clearly articulate at the outset the aim in the thesis project; that is, offer a direct statement of the thesis of the project. The project should go beyond a simple characterization of conflicting positions; it should articulate a philosophical claim that the student will defend.
  2. Explain the philosophical significance of the problem being taken on, and why the project promises to be a contribution to the topic.
  3. Briefly situate the student’s position with respect to the relevant literature.
  4. Summarize/outline the basic structure of the argument that the project will advance.
  5. Strive for conceptual clarity; i.e., define key terms, use examples to illuminate and illustrate central concepts so that anyone with a background in philosophy can understand the argument.
  6. Remember that the audience is philosophically sophisticated but not necessarily composed of specialists in the topic area.