The Honors program provides an opportunity for work of greater scope and depth than the music department's standard course offerings. Honors projects entail independent work, undertaken over at least two terms, supervised by one or more members of the music faculty. Honors projects may take any of the following forms:

  • Written Honors thesis
  • Recital and supporting paper
  • Musical composition and supporting paper

A written Honors thesis should reflect original research and demonstrate analytical and research skills substantially beyond those required for a term paper. A paper submitted in support of a performance or a composition should be regarded as the equivalent of a term paper, with an analytical, historical, or interpretive focus related to the performance or composition. This paper should be of a quality sufficient to receive a grade of A or A- in a relevant upper-division music course in the department. Grading will be based on writing craft and style as well as content. Students should consult The Chicago Manual of Style, Writing about Music, Sources, and other reference works to ensure that their papers follow accepted style for punctuation, citation, bibliography, formatting, and use of music terminology.

Registration and Credit

Students are awarded one course credit for successful completion of this course at the end of two terms of work. For the first term, students register for MUS 88 and receive a grade of ON (ongoing) at the end of the term. In the second term, students do not register for MUS 88. A final grade will replace the ON at the end of the second term, at which time the Honors coursework must be completed.


To qualify for Honors, students must have a G.P.A. for music courses of 3.3 or better, and a cumulative G.P.A. of 3.0 or better for all courses taken at the time the Honors proposal is submitted to the faculty. Students applying to the Honors program should have completed, or be in the process of completing, all requirements for the music major.

If you are interested in undertaking an Honors project in the Department of Music, please complete an Honors Project Proposal in consultation with the faculty advisor for your potential project. Submit the completed form along with all required additional materials as a PDF via email to the Department Administrator no later than October 14 of your senior year.

The faculty will review honors proposals in late October and notify students whether they have been accepted into the Honors program. Accepted students will be assigned an advisor, who in most cases will be the advisor named in the proposal.


Junior Spring or Senior Fall

Formulate a topic in consultation with your faculty advisor(s). Please note that the faculty advisor for your proposed Honors project does not need to be the same as the faculty advisor for your music major. 

Senior Fall

No later than October 14, submit an Honors Project Proposal with all required additional materials as a PDF via email to the Department Administrator.

Senior Winter

Winter term will normally provide the principal working time for Honors projects, and students are expected to turn in drafts chapters of their thesis or supporting paper on a regular basis. No later than the end of winter term, all Honors candidates should meet with their advisors to review the status of work to date. At this point, students should reserve a time and date for the public presentation of their work in April or May of the spring term. Presentations are typically held in Faulkner Recital Hall; students should speak with the Department Administrator or Administrative Assistant to schedule their presentation.

Senior Spring

No later than April 1, Honors candidates must submit a completed first draft of their thesis, supporting paper, or musical composition. Failure to meet this deadline will disqualify the project from consideration for Honors. During April, students will finalize revisions to their work on the basis of comments from advisor(s) and other readers.

No later than May 1, each Honors candidate must submit a revised draft of any written work, including musical compositions. Failure to meet this deadline will disqualify the project from consideration for Honors.

During May, drafts of written work will be available for review by all music department faculty. Each project will be evaluated by at least two members of the faculty who were not involved in advising the project. Any faculty member may suggest or request modifications ranging from style editing to conceptual rethinking. By May 15, each Honors candidate will receive music department faculty feedback to the revised draft of their written work. Each student will be expected to incorporate these modifications into the final draft of their work.

Final versions of Honors projects, incorporating the modifications suggested by music department faculty, will be due May 31


Each Honors candidate is expected to share the results of their work with faculty and colleagues in a public presentation. Performers will typically fulfill this requirement by giving a recital. Composers and written thesis authors should schedule a colloquium during April or May (two or more students may share a colloquium). Authors of written theses should present their project and answer questions about it; composers should present a live or recorded performance of their work (workshop versions of large-scale compositions are permissible) and be prepared to discuss it.

Honors recitals and colloquia typically take place no later than May 25 (unless arranged otherwise with advisors). Failure to meet this deadline will disqualify the project from consideration for Honors. Please keep in mind that May is heavily scheduled, and that your event should be arranged at a time that does not conflict with other recitals and colloquia, or with rehearsals and performances of Hopkins Center ensembles.

It is the responsibility of Honors candidates giving a recital as part of their project to ensure that their IIP instructor attends the recital and submits to the Music Department chair a written evaluation of the performance and preparation leading up to it. The evaluation form can be completed online.