Snapshots of Brown: Honors Thesis Applications

thesisWelcome to
Snapshots of Brown, your destination for pics of Brown all year long! I’m Celina Stewart, and I’ll be bringing you little photo insights into my third year on Brown’s campus. What’s up this week? Let’s take a look… 

As admission decisions go out and graduation dates get closer for those of our readers completing their senior years (and hopefully attending the colleges of their choice!), one thing seems incredibly relevant to discuss: Honors! At my high school, our honors diploma was based on a technical scale of things related to public school funding, including the number of Advanced Placement courses offered, “honors” courses taken by non-AP licensed teachers at my high school, and potential courses taken for credit hours at a local community college. I ended up getting one of these lovely diplomas [read: a line on my otherwise standard diploma], and now at Brown, am pursuing the college equivalent: an Honors Thesis in International Relations. So, what does that process look like, and what steps have a I taken to get here? 

How does Honors work?

Honors at Brown varies from department to department- it is totally up to you if you want to pursue Honors or, even if you have the grades, whether you want to put in the time for a thesis. I’m a double concentrator, so I had two options: to do two honors theses, one thesis and one capstone, or two capstones (required by every concentration to complete a degree) to finish my degrees.

Because my second concentration is History, I have chosen to do a capstone for that concentration (a seminar that I took my sophomore fall counts as my senior capstone, so that one is done). For International Relations, my ‘main’ concentration, so to speak, I am pursuing an Honors Thesis on the impact of mobile technology on critical infrastructure and cybersecurity in Latin America.

What has this process looked like? 

Essentially, you need to achieve all of the requirements for your concentration. For IR, that means 2/3 majority As in all of my classes at Brown, 9/14 courses in my IR concentration As, and then fill out a form and 8 page prospectus signed by the two advisors I plan to work with next year. In my prospectus, I had to outline what ideas I have and how I hope to accomplish my goals, as well as what experience I have previously had to prepare me for this thesis. For IR, some of the thesis work has to be completed in Spanish (or whichever language you have chosen based on your regional focus), which is another step. If I am accepted into the program, I get to take 2 seminars next year with only other Honors students.

For other concentrations, the Honors process is slightly different. For History, I would have had to take a specific pre-Honors course designed to teach History thesis writing, this year, and then complete the seminar next year. I would have had to write a full prospectus, focusing on the archival research and questions I would hope to accomplish in that thesis.

Other concentrations are yet even more different. One of my roommate plans to pursue both French and Chemistry theses, so he’ll be working on a translation for French, and an ongoing research project for Chemistry, both of which he will apply to next year.

Overall, theses are what you make of them. I turned in my prospectus earlier this week, and look forward to seeing if I get into the program. For other students, theses aren’t feasible- some students are content waiting on Phi Beta Kappa or other academic fraternities, or applying to scholarships and fellowships, because they want to have additional time to spend enjoying their senior year.

Preemptively (I suspect I’ll get into the program), I’ve decided to step down from several of the positions that I’ve been in this year to make additional time. I don’t necessarily need to, but I think it will be good to do for my sake.

Here’s hoping I get into the Honors program!

Want more snapshots and FAQ updates? Check out @thebruinclub on Twitter! Have questions or comments for me? Want more details? Send an email to and I’ll get back ASAP!


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