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EIU Department of History

History Departmental Honors Program

“Departmental honors is so much more than a research project. It is a formative experience you can’t get anywhere else in your undergraduate career.”

Megan Kessler, Alumni and Ph.D. Student, Penn State University

Are you interested in doing exciting independent research? Do you want to prepare for graduate school? Looking for a change from classroom courses? Consider joining the History Departmental Honors Program. If you have a 3.5 GPA, you qualify for the History Departmental Honors Program. The advanced training of Departmental Honors prepares students for graduate school, gives students the opportunity to produce a significant piece of original scholarship, and allows students to pursue specialized interests. Departmental Honors students have won national writing awards for their projects, had their theses printed in Historia, been admitted to prestigious doctoral programs in history and schools of law, presented work at the National Council on Undergraduate Research, and won research support grants of as much as $3000 for summer travel to archives.

Click here to find out where some of our honors students have gone onto after graduating from EIU with honors in history. 

What is Departmental Honors?

The departmental honors program is open to history majors with a cumulative and major GPA that meets or exceeds 3.5 after 12 hours of history including HIS 2500 or its equivalent. Transfer students who have not completed 12 hours at EIU may obtain probationary admittance with the recommendation of the Departmental Honors Coordinator.

Students traditionally begin honors during their sophomore or junior years (though an accelerated path can be available). Over the course of three or four semesters, a student enrolls in an independent study to examine scholarship closely aligned with the student’s historical interest. This course lays the foundation for the next step: developing and researching a thesis under close mentorship by a faculty member. Honors students also participate in one of our MA seminar courses. In lieu of the (3 CU) capstone course HIS 4375, HIS departmental honors students take HIS 4397 – Honors Professional Development Capstone for Departmental Honors Students (1 CU).

How do I apply to Departmental Honors?

Make an appointment to speak with the Departmental Honors Coordinator, Dr. Ed Wehrle (, who will help you fill out an application form to submit to the Honors College.

What are the requirements to graduate with departmental honors in History?

The following twelve hours are required to earn the Departmental Honors designation. In most cases the credits may be applied in fulfillment of history electives.

HIS 44441 Honors Independent Study: Students usually work on developing a thesis proposal during this course. They also read and develop a review on the scholarly literature related to their thesis project and produce a prospectus over assembled readings in your chosen area. Credits: 3
HIS 45551 Honors Research: Working with a faculty member, students research their chosen topic, conducting an analysis, and applying an appropriate research methodology. Credits: 3
HIS 46441 Honors Thesis: Here students undertake completion of an honors thesis, about 40-60 pages original research. The thesis usually contains several chapters, some of which may have been produced in previous honors courses. Credits: 3
HIS 5000+: Students participate in a graduate seminar of their choosing with departmental approval. Credits: 3

How has Departmental Honors helped students move into careers and graduate school?

Work on an honors thesis is great preparation for graduate school, law school, and a variety of careers. Honors alumni frequently write back to professors in the History department to talk about the importance of the honors experience to helping them in their future endeavors. Below is a list of where some of our honors students have headed after EIU.

John Bays (’15), Law Student, UNLV

Michael Bradley (’15), Police Officer, Villa Grove, IL

James Buckwalter (’13), Teacher, Cambridge Lakes Charter School

Monica Burney (’15), Master of Library Science Student, University of Illinois

Nicole Hurley (’06), Attorney, Alton, IL

Benjamin Ill (’11), Assistant Director of Enrollment, All Campus, Chicago, IL

Megan Kessler (’16), PhD Candidate in History, Penn State

Courtney Sage (’16), Management Analyst, Village of Cary

Laura Seiler (’18), Law Student, University of Missouri

Clare Smith (’13), Master’s in Social Service Administration, University of Chicago

Cayla Wagner (’16), Museum Assistant, Aurora Regional Fire Museum

What are the requirements for a thesis?

Student theses tend to range from 40-70 pages and are a significant work of original research based in primary and secondary sources. Some students choose to include their theses in the online collection of Booth Library’s The Keep. Below are links to a few student theses.

Other students have published parts of their thesis in our award winning student history journal, Historia. Below are links to a few recent student publications.


Related Pages

Contact Information

History Department

2744 Coleman Hall
Eastern Illinois University
600 Lincoln Ave.
Charleston, IL 61920

Grant Sterling, Chair

3531 Coleman Hall

Brian Mann, Undergraduate Advisor

2566 - Coleman Hall

Lee Patterson, Graduate Coordinator

2572 - Coleman Hall

Bonnie Laughlin-Schultz
History with Teacher Licensure in Social Science Coordinator

2556 Coleman Hall

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