The only route to honors in the major is writing a thesis and passing an oral examination. To be admitted to the thesis program, a student must have a grade point average of at least 3.5 in all work related to the major field above the 100 level; the department may petition on her behalf if her GPA in the major is between 3.0 and 3.5. To see some topics on which past American Studies majors have written honors theses, please see the section on Student Research.

Ethel L. Hersey Prize

The Hersey Prize is awarded annually to the best essay written for an American Studies course. The prize considers exceptional essays written in any of the many contributory disciplines of American studies, with a preference for an interdisciplinary approach. Winning essays embody superlative research, analysis, argumentation, and style in their exploration and illumination of American topics.

Read the most recent essays to receive this award:

2015 Winner: “From the Simplest Upward”: White American Identity at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition and Olympic Anthropology Days by Maya Brownstein '15

2015 Honorable Mentions: "Faith, Let Me Not Play a Woman: The Wellesley College Shakespeare Society, 1877-1906​" by Carrington OBrion '15 and "The New Faces of Assimilation." by Rayna Rampalli '18

2014: God's Classroom: The Gablers' Textbook Crusade by Anna Diamond '15

2013: Maya Thompson '13

2012: Kerry Knerr '12

2011:  The 1978 “A Lesbian Show” Exhibition: The Politics of Queer Organizing around the Arts and the Fight for Visibility in American Cultural Memory by Anna Weick '12

2010:  Eminem: Minstrel, White Negro, or American Hero? by Emily Zia '10