Honors, Student Research, and Opportunities for Special Study

A professor and a student talking

Honors Research

Students interested in engaging in in-depth archival and bibliographical research can apply to undertake an Honors Project during the senior year. Students interested in pursuing Honors Research in History are encouraged to enroll in Directed Inquiry during the second semester of the junior year. After the applicant’s research proposal is approved by the Department, the student works with a faculty committee to conduct primary research and craft a 50-60 page research paper. The student presents his/her work at a campus-wide colloquium in the spring and is listed as having completed Honors Research in the College’s commencement program. Honors research carries a maximum of 8 credits and is recommended for those interested in pursuing graduate study in history. 

The requirements for pursuing Honors Research in History:

  1. Completion of all requirements for a Bachelor of Arts degree in History, as well as a minimum overall grade point average of 3.50 and a minimum history grade point average of 3.50.
  2. Completion of History 495-496.
  3. Completion of a major research project, culminating in a research paper and an oral presentation. The student normally begins preparing a proposal by taking a directed inquiry in the spring of the junior year.The formal research proposal must be accepted by the Department early in the student’s senior year. The project must be completed and approved by the supervising committee by April.

For more detailed information see Honors Research in History

Student Research

Since 1999, the Rhodes chapter of the History honor society Phi Alpha Theta has published annually the Rhodes Historical Review. This award-winning, student-edited journal accepts essays from History students that investigate historical subjects and themes from all time periods and geographic regions. Student submissions must be accompanied by a faculty member’s nomination to be considered by the editorial board.  The two co-editors of the journal receive a paid fellowship for their editorial work.

In 2012, the American Historical Association awarded Daniel Williford ’11 its top prize for undergraduate research in history, the Raymond J. Cunningham Prize. Williford’s essay, “Colonial Narratives: Visions of Pre-Islamic Algeria in the Revue Africaine, 1870-1896,” was written for one of Prof. Etty Terem’s research seminars.

To read issues of the Rhodes Historical Review, visit the Student Publications section of the History website.

Opportunities for Special Study

Bridge Majors

Bridge Majors are interdisciplinary majors which blend two courses of study.  They are not double majors, but are a selection of courses from two majors which are put into dialogue with one another.  Students who “bridge” two majors are able to blend their understanding and look at the world in unique ways.

The History and International Studies Departments have a long-standing bridge major.  You can find out more about it here.

In addition, the History department is in the process of developing bridge majors with the Music department, the Art & Art History department, the Theatre department, and with other departments on campus.

Directed Inquiry

Directed Inquiry refers to independent study with a faculty member. Credits for a directed inquiry range from one to four. Forty-six hours of work, including time spent reading or writing, are required for each credit earned. Proposals for directed inquiry must be submitted for approval to the chair of the Department. Click here to access the form for a directed inquiry. 

Rhodes Institute for Regional Studies

Housed on the Rhodes campus during the summer, the Rhodes Institute for Regional Studies is dedicated to furthering academic research on Memphis and the Mid-South.  The program regularly includes department faculty and encourages applications from students interested in pursuing history projects in local and regional archives. Although participating in the Institute does not earn academic credit, Rhodes Institute fellows receive stipends and satisfy the College’s “Connections” Foundation requirement (F11).

Study Abroad

The Department encourages its majors to pursue opportunities to study abroad.  Students interested in careers in foreign service should particularly consider these options.  The Buckman Center for International Education provides information on scores of overseas educational programs, most of which include history courses.  Most programs are conducted in English.  

Normally, participation in approved study abroad programs fulfills the College’s “Connections” (F11) Foundation requirement. Other Foundation requirements may also be fulfilled in study abroad programs. Please consult with the Buckman Center for details.

History courses taken in Buckman Center approved programs count toward the requirements for the Department’s major and minor.

Phi Alpha Theta Honor Society

Phi Alpha Theta is a national honor society "whose mission is to promote the study of history through the encouragement of research, good teaching, publication and the exchange of learning and ideas among historians. We seek to bring students, teachers, and writers of history together for intellectual and social exchanges, which promote and assist historical research and publication by our members in a variety of ways." (from Phi Alpha Theta’s Mission Statement)

The Rhodes Alpha Epsilon Delta chapter of PAT sponsors public lectures, history trivia contests, film viewings, field trips to museums and historical sites, picnics, and lots of other exciting history-related activities. In addition, PAT regularly organizes events to help students connect the study of history with their life after graduation, including career networking dinners, alumni panel discussions, and résumé writing workshops for history students.

Each year the Rhodes chapter of Phi Alpha Theta publishes the Rhodes Historical Review, which includes the best student papers on history-related subjects. Phi Alpha Theta also encourages its members to present their research at regional and national PAT conferences.

Every year, the Rhodes chapter of Phi Alpha Theta invites outstanding students from across the College who have excelled in the study of history.

Any student—not just history majors or minors—who has completed twelve credits of history coursework at Rhodes and who has earned at least a 3.3 GPA in history and at least a 3.2 GPA overall can become a member. Every year during the spring semester, PAT inducts its new members.

Officers of the Rhodes chapter of PAT are elected each spring from among the current members and serve during the following academic year. The President oversees the activities and administration of the chapter; the Vice-President assists the President and acts as the chapter’s official treasurer. The Secretary keeps minutes at all meetings and communicates with the members when necessary; the Historian maintains the chapter’s scrapbook which serves as its official archive.

General membership meetings are called by the officers throughout the semester.

For more information, contact the Phi Alpha Theta faculty advisor Prof. Seok-Won Lee or visit the national Phi Alpha Theta website.

Academic Awards

The John Henry Davis Award is named for the late Professor of History who taught at the College from 1926 through 1969. He was a founder of the College’s tutorial system and he created the interdisciplinary course, “Man in the Light of History and Religion,” later renamed “The Search for Values.” He was the first president of the British Studies at Oxford program. This award is given annually to the outstanding senior history major. 

The Douglas W. Hatfield Award is named for the J.J. McComb professor of history (1989-2001) who joined the faculty in 1965. Dr. Hatfield was also Chair of the Department of History from 1970 to 1980 and Director of the Search for Values Program from 1985-2000. Prof. Hatfield, who retired in 2004, continues to teach in the Department on a part-time basis. This award is given to the senior history major who has distinguished her/himself in the area of undergraduate research in history.

The Phi Alpha Theta Award is presented annually to a senior for outstanding service to the history honor society. 

The First Year Award in History is given to a first-year student who has done exceptional work in a history course, demonstrated commitment to the discipline of history, and achieved a record of overall academic excellence at the College.