Skip to Navigation | Skip to Content

Honors in English

Honors at Calvin

The English department strongly encourages qualified students to participate in the Honors Program.  The program offers students the opportunity to enroll in smaller, more accelerated sections of core courses, to engage in more comprehensive research projects in upper-divisional English classes, and to develop an extended research or creative project under the supervision of two English professors.  Participating in the Honors Program can be the most rewarding part of a student’s academic work at Calvin College.

Incoming students who have been awarded National Merit, Presidential, Dean’s, Faculty Honors, or Mosaic scholarships are invited to participate in the Honors Program.  Other students whose cumulative GPA at Calvin is 3.3 or higher after at least one year of study are also eligible to participate.

The Director of the Honors Program at Calvin College is Professor Bruce Berglund of the History Department.  Students should consult him for general questions about the program. 

Honors in English

Students who are interested in graduating with honors in English should notify their academic advisor as soon as possible so that they can organize their schedules appropriately.

Course requirements

Students graduating with honors in English will have completed a minimum of six honors courses (or 18 hours of honors work):

  • Two courses from the general curriculum; and
  • One additional course from either the English department or the general curriculum. Honors English 101 may count for this sixth required course.

Students must complete English 399: Honors Project as one of their three honors courses in English. 

In addition to maintaining a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher, both within the major and overall, students must also earn at least a B+ on their Honors Project in order to graduate with honors.

For specific questions about Honors requirements in the English department, contact co-chairs Debra Rienstra or Chad Engbers.

Honors Project 

The English department encourages both critical and creative Honors Projects.  For the critical Honors Project, students write a 6500-8000-word scholarly essay that shows perceptive and original insight into a topic and that contributes to the discipline’s ongoing conversation about that topic.  Students interested in pursuing graduate studies could conceive of this essay as a potential writing sample for their graduate school application. 

The expectations for the creative Honors Project depend on genre and supervisor, but the following are general guidelines:

  • 10-12 poems, or 2-3 short stories, or 2-3 scenes of a script, or 2-3 chapters of a novel; and
  • a 2000-2500-word essay that discusses the student’s understanding of the form of that genre, his or her particular use of that form, and the significance of other writers in shaping his or her own form.

The Honors Project is described in more detail on a separate page.