Students obtain Honors in the Classical Mediterranean and Middle East through successful completion of an Honors Project. In most cases, this Project will be a substantial written thesis on a subject, question, or dispute in the study of ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern worlds or their influence and reception in later periods. The term “project” applies, however, because on occasion a major research project has not taken the form of an academic thesis and its support. Examples include the production of a Greek play for the Macalester community, a poem in Latin hexameter, and a screenplay about Mary Magdalene. In the vast majority of instances, however, Honors will be earned through the development, research, careful crafting and defense of a substantive written thesis in the field of Classical Mediterranean and Middle East. Please see the examples published on Digital Commons.


Classical Mediterranean and Middle East students must have a college GPA of 3.5 and a major GPA of 3.6 in order to pursue Honors, and they must submit their written proposal to the department chair no later than September 15 of their senior year.

Preparations and Proposal

In most cases, students need to declare their interest in Honors early in the spring of their junior year, although this may vary some in the case of students studying abroad or in other extenuating circumstances. Potential Honors students should candidly discuss the viability of a project with members of the department. Does the student fully understand the time commitment and the constraints of doing an Honors Project? Is the student adequately prepared to pursue the topic(s) of interest? Are the requisite languages – ancient and modern — in place to pursue successfully the questions entailed in the proposed thesis?

A student still interested in pursuing an Honors after these discussions must submit to the department chair a completed proposal by the first Friday in April.

Download Honors Proposal Form:

The full faculty of the department will meet to approve proposals, and students will be notified of the outcome within one week. Students studying abroad should communicate their desire to pursue Honors and suggest a working thesis even though they are off campus. They must submit to the department an Honors Proposal Form by September 15th. Approved students pursue their projects as the independent research portion of the Senior Seminar during the fall semester and take a two to four credit Honors Independent course with their adviser in the spring.

Honors Committee

An Honors Committee consists of the supervisor, at least one other faculty member in the Classical Mediterranean and Middle East and at least one additional reader outside of the department. Committee members advise the candidate on work in progress and serve as the readers before whom the student offers the oral defense. This committee should be selected by the end of the fall semester.

Oral Defense

The defense before the committee must occur before the date in April set by the Director of Academic Programs. The format for the defense is not prescribed, but traditionally it begins with the candidate giving a 10-15 minute formal presentation of their work, which may be open to the Classics community and invited guests. The student then entertains questions from the Committee for no more than an hour. Committee members will then deliberate privately on its recommendation to fail, pass, or encourage publication of the project. The Committee may recommend a pass contingent upon the completion of specified corrections and changes.


Fall of Senior Year: Students working on Honors Projects enroll in the Senior Seminar and work with their adviser as well as the seminar instructor to carve out a suitable portion of the project to complete during the first semester. Honors students usually do not present at the Classical Mediterranean and Middle East Colloquium, but complete most other assignments in the Senior Sem.

December 15: First Progress Report due to the Honors adviser. This report reviews the work done over the first semester, describes the Honors Committee and establishes a timeline for completion of the Project. At this time a determination is made whether a student should continue to pursue the project in the spring semester or default in favor of the less stringent capstone experience.

February 15: Second Progress Report due to the adviser. This report reviews the shape of the argument, the development of the thesis, and makes adjustments to the timeline. A final title must be articulated. A date should now be set for the oral defense.

Mid-Late March (see Honors Calendar set by Academic Programs): Abstract due. The abstract should be a concise (100 word) summary of the thesis and principal supporting arguments. When approved by the adviser, the abstract with title will be distributed to the Academic Programs Office to be used in graduation materials and attached to official college transcripts.

Early April: A complete draft of the thesis should be submitted to the adviser by April 1. At least one week before the defense, a revised draft should be submitted to the entire Honors Committee.

Mid to Late April (see Honors Calendar set by Academic Programs): The defense before the Committee must be held before the date set by the Academic Programs Office. The certification form must be signed by all members of the Committee and must be submitted to Academic Programs by this date.

Early May (see Honors Calendar set by Academic Programs): By a date set by the Academic Programs Office, usually about a week after the deadline for the defense, the final project must be submitted to Academic Programs. At least three copies should be submitted; the Classical Mediterranean and Middle East Department will pay for the binding of one copy for our collection, and the Honors Program budget will pay for your private copy as well as the one for the DeWitt Wallace Library.

Last Revised Winter 2024