English concentrators can pursue either the Elective Program or the Honors Program. The Elective Program allows more scope for course selection within and outside the English department. Students in the Honors Program engage in more intensive study through seminars and the thesis options. A grade point average of 3.40 or higher in the concentration is required in the Honors Program, beginning in the junior year. A third option, for honors candidates only, is a joint concentration, which culminates in a thesis supervised jointly by a member of the English department and a member of the allied department. A grade point average of 3.60 or higher is required for the joint concentration. Concentrators (both honors and elective) must take all three of our common ground courses, described below; these may be taken in any order, and are best taken early on. Note: Ordinarily, at least one of the three Common Ground Courses shall be taken before the second semester of the junior year.
Concentrators who pursue an honors degree have the opportunity to write a senior thesis, which may take the form of an investigation of a critical topic or a creative-writing project (which requires a separate application). All theses are directed by a professor in the English faculty. Honors seniors who choose not to write a thesis have the option of taking two undergraduate seminars in place of the senior tutorial.
English also offers a secondary field, which requires six courses altogether, three of which must meet specific requirements: a course of British literature from before 1800, an American literature course, and a seminar.
Elective Program: 11 half-courses
Honors Program: 14 half-courses
Joint Concentration: 8 half-courses in English
1. Three common-ground courses:
English 40-49: Arrivals
English 50-59: Poets
English 60-69: Diffusions
2. Additional Requirements
a. Elective Program: 11 courses total
Eight courses in addition to the three common ground courses; one of these eight courses must involve Shakespeare, and one of which may be a related course from outside the English Department.
b. Honors Program: 14 courses in total
(i) Junior Tutorial, English 98
(ii) Senior Thesis Tutorial, English 99, two terms; or two English 90 seminars (see 3.c below)
(iii) Foreign Literature
(iv) Seven electives; one must involve Shakespeare, one must be a 90-level seminar, and one may be a related course from outside the English Department.
c. Joint Concentration: The requirement is 8 courses in total - 5 beyond the Common-Ground courses:
(i) Junior Tutorial, English 98
(iii) Foreign Literature (iv) One course involving Shakespeare Note: Any adjustments to the Common-Ground courses and Junior Tutorial will be decided in consultation with the DUS.
3. Senior Year, Honors Concentrators
Honors students have three options for the senior year:
a. Critical thesis: The two-term senior tutorial, English 99, culminates in a completed thesis submitted in March. The process begins in April of the junior year with a thesis proposal of 300 to 500 words.
b. Creative thesis: Like the critical thesis, a creative thesis is completed in the two terms of English 99r. Creative thesis proposals by honors juniors (out-of-phase students included) are submitted in February. Students applying for a creative writing thesis ordinarily will have completed one course in creative writing at Harvard before they apply. Questions about creative theses should be directed to Bret Johnston, Director of the Creative Writing Program, or the Undergraduate Program Office.
c. Non-thesis option: Honors students who would rather not write a thesis may choose the option of taking two additional 90-level seminars. Students who choose this option will not be eligible to receive a departmental degree recommendation higher than "with honors."
d. Oral Examination for Highest Departmental Honor: To be recommended for highest departmental honors, eligible seniors take a forty-five minute oral examination at the end of the senior year.
4. Joint Concentration:
a. Upon approval from the department's Undergraduate Program office, honors candidates may combine a concentration in English with a concentration in another department, supervised by advisers in each department. It is a challenging undertaking, in part because joint concentrators are expected to take more courses than other students. Ordinarily, only students with a concentration GPA of 3.6 or above, an overall strong record, and a clearly formulated project across two disciplines will receive approval.
b. Joint concentrators may declare English to be either their primary or allied concentration; the requirements are the same for both. Students are expected to take the Junior tutorial in English. The senior tutorial will be administered by the primary department, but even if English is the allied department, an English faculty member will be a joint adviser of the thesis. Decisions about each tutorial and the entire shape of the joint degree depend on close collaboration between the two departments at every stage.
c. Students interested in declaring a joint concentration must complete a change of concentration form, which must be signed by both departments and by the student's Allston Burr Resident Dean. For further information contact the Undergraduate Program Office.
5. Other Information:
a. Pass/Fail; SAT/UNS: Courses taken Pass/Fail may not be counted toward concentration credit, with the exception of one freshman seminar taught by department faculty and the senior tutorial.
b. Creative Writing Courses: Admission to creative writing courses is by application only. Only two creative writing courses may count toward the total number of required courses for the concentration, although students may apply for and enroll in as many as their plan of study can accommodate. See the creative writing pages for details.
A related course is one that contributes to a student's study of literature but is not offered through the English department. Both Elective and Honors concentrators may count one related course toward the total (11 or 14) required for the concentration. Courses in fields such as history, literature, dramatic arts, folklore, religion, philosophy, fine arts, and foreign literature may count as related.
THE CONCENTRATION GRADE POINT AVERAGE (GPA)
Grades from all courses used to fulfill concentration requirements (including related courses and courses used to meet the foreign literature requirement) are used to calculate the GPA. In addition, grades from English department courses taken beyond the required number of concentration courses also count. Grades without numerical values assigned to them (CR, W, and SAT, for example) do not figure into the concentration GPA. Grades from courses taken outside the University, including courses taken abroad, likewise do not count toward the GPA. The Honors Program requires a GPA of 3.40. Note that the concentration GPA used by faculty for degree recommendations includes only those courses taken through first term of the senior year.
The English department uses a 4.0 scale to calculate grades in the following way: