The BA Project in English

About the BA Project - Honors - Janel Mueller Undergraduate Thesis Prize

BA Project Proposals for Spring 2020 will be due May 1, 2020.

The BA Project is an optional component of the English major, but students who wish to be considered for departmental honors must submit a critical BA Project. These projects typically take the form of a critical essay. The student is required to work on an approved topic over the course of the fourth year of study and to submit a final version to the Director of Undergraduate Studies that has been critiqued by both a faculty advisor and a preceptor and has gone through revisions based on this feedback and guidance.

Students who wish to use the BA project in English to meet the same requirement in another major should discuss their proposals with both program chairs no later than the end of third year. Certain requirements must be met. A consent form, to be signed by both departments, is available from the College Advising office. It must be completed and returned to the College advisor by the end of Autumn Quarter of the student's year of graduation.

A list of recent BA Projects is available here.

About the BA Project

The BA Project may develop from a paper written in an earlier course or from independent research. Students who wish to complete a Critical BA Project must submit a proposal (available under Department Forms) by the spring of their third year. On this form, they identify a faculty member who will serve as their project advisor. All students who wish to complete a BA Project must also attend a mandatory library research session in the spring quarter before their fourth year (the session is generally held in week 9). BA writers also complete a brief summer research worksheet that must be turned in by the Monday of week two of the Autumn Quarter of the student's fourth year.

Students work on their BA Project over three quarters. Prior to the Autumn Quarter of their fourth year, students will be assigned a graduate student preceptor who will help them develop pieces of their project and suggest revisions. Over Autumn Quarter, students will attend a series of mandatory colloquia led by the preceptors to prepare them for the upcoming quarter when the bulk of the writing occurs. In Winter and Spring Quarters, students will continue to meet with their preceptors and will also consult with their individual faculty advisor.

In consultation with the faculty advisor and graduate preceptor, students submit a near-final draft of their paper by the end of week two of Spring Quarter. By the beginning of the fifth week, students submit the final version of their project to their preceptor, faculty advisor, and the Student Affairs Assistant.

Students may elect to register for the senior project preparation course (ENGL 29900 Independent BA Paper Preparation) for one-quarter credit. Note that the grade for this course is on work toward the BA Project and is normally submitted in Spring Quarter even when the course has been taken in an earlier quarter.


Completion of a BA Project does not guarantee a recommendation for departmental honors. For honors candidacy, a student must have at least a 3.25 grade point average overall and a 3.6 GPA in the major (grades received for transfer credit courses are not included into this calculation).

To be eligible for honors, a student's BA Project must be judged to be of the highest quality by the graduate student preceptor, faculty advisor, and Director of Undergraduate Studies. Honors recommendations are made to the Master of the Humanities Collegiate Division by the department and it is the Master of the Humanities Collegiate Division who makes the final decision.

The Janel Mueller Undergraduate Thesis Prize

The Janel Mueller Undergraduate Thesis Prize in English and American Literature (formerly known as the Napier Wilt Prize) recognizes Critical BA Projects that represent outstanding examples of bachelor’s-level research and writing. Nominations are made by advisors and preceptors, and winners are then selected by the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Janel Mueller is the William Rainey Harper Distinguished Service Professor Emerita in the College and Professor Emerita in English Language & Literature. She also served as the Dean of the Division of the Humanities from 1999 to 2004. She is the author of The Native Tongue and the Word: Developments in English Prose Style, 1380-1580, the coeditor of four volumes of the writings of Elizabeth I; and the editor of the 2012 volume Katherine Parr: Complete Works and Correspondence.

Professor Mueller’s dedication to undergraduate teaching makes her an especially fitting representative for the best undergraduate writing in our department. She won the Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 1982 and spent decades guiding English majors in the classroom and as a BA advisor. If you are interested in learning more, please see this profile of Professor Mueller from 1996.

A list of recent winners is available here.

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