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The Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program

The mission of the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program is to enhance education throughout Yeshiva College by providing an exceptionally broad, deep, rigorous education for our most talented students.

To fulfill those aims, we emphasize research, intensive writing, and sophisticated thinking: critical, analytic, quantitative, scientific, interdisciplinary, and creative.

Students who take honors courses commit themselves to hard work, a challenging search for understanding, and intellectual excellence.

Students who pursue the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program will experience especially rewarding interactions with faculty members through honors courses, individual mentoring, advanced work, and senior honors theses.

Upon graduation, honors students should feel confident that they can fulfill their potential through advanced training, lifelong learning, and leadership within their various communities.

For questions or further information on the Schottenstein Honors Program:

Dr. Eliezer Schnall, Director
schnall@yu.edu

Benjamin Stein, Program Coordinator
benjamin.stein@yu.edu

Program Information

The Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program is an invaluable educational experience. Students engage with ideas, texts, and course material which come to constitute a lasting intellectual foundation and framework. Honors students may work in almost any field of their choosing or continue graduate research at the highest levels. While pursuing our curriculum they have special opportunities to benefit from many cultural activities in New York: important theater productions on Broadway and elsewhere, concerts at the most important musical venues, visits to the top art and historical museums of New York, and special lectures by visiting scholars and artists. They also have the opportunity to participate in special honors summer courses taking place overseas in which they move forward in their programs and general education while getting to know interesting places and cultures from all around the world.

In the first year of the program, honors students participate in specially designated sections of the Yeshiva College Core Curriculum and of the First Year Writing course (FYWH). In these courses, students develop intellectual sophistication through intensive writing, research, and analysis.

Besides the first year courses, students choose at least four additional honors electives, usually in areas of the Core Curriculum (including BIB, JHI, and HEB).

Most students who are part of the program are supported by generous merit scholarships. Those scholarships last for at least four years, as long as students are enrolled and remain in good standing in the program. Simultaneously, each student must maintain a comparable level of excellence in Judaic Studies.

The culmination of the honors program is a senior honors thesis, in which a student, over the course of several semesters, develops an independent research project and works directly with a faculty mentor. Honors theses explore a broad range of topics in the sciences, humanities, social sciences, Judaic studies and the arts, and in recent years, several have been devoted to creative writing and musical performance. It is not uncommon for students to present the fruits of their research at both academic conferences and in published form in respected scholarly journals.

The culmination of the honors program is a senior honors thesis, in which a student, over the course of several semesters, develops an independent research project and works directly with a faculty mentor. Honors theses explore a broad range of topics in the sciences, humanities, social sciences, Judaic studies and the arts, and in recent years, several have been devoted to creative writing and musical performance. It is not uncommon for students to present the fruits of their research at both academic conferences and in published form in respected scholarly journals.

Overall, students must spend at least three full years and complete at least 94 credits in residence.

Recommendations written for an honors student from administrators and faculty members are virtually guaranteed to be exceptionally strong, and the students' diplomas specifically confirm their graduation both from the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program and Yeshiva College..

Faculty Honors Committee

The Honors Committee ensures the day-to-day success and determines the long-term direction of the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program.

  • Sumanta Goswami, Science (Chair)
  • Graciela Bazet-Broitman, Humanities
  • Barbara Blatner, Humanities
  • Daniel Kimmel, Social Science
  • Jess Olson, Jewish Studies

Student Honors Council

This council serves as the main liaison between Honors Program students and the Program Director.

  • Raziel Siegman, President
  • Benjamin Gottesman, Vice President
  • Ari Englander, Vice President
  • Jonathan Crane

Fall 2022 Honors Program Courses

The curricular component of the Honors Program is distributed between the general education and the major: six required honors courses, typically in Core Curriculum areas, and the completion of a thesis, typically in the major field of study. Of the six required courses, two are completed in the students' first year of residence: a first-year-only, honors section of a Core Curriculum class in the fall term and Honors First-Year Writing (FYWH) in the spring. For the remaining four courses, students may choose from the variety of Honors sections of Core Curriculum courses, including HEB, JHI and BIB, offered every term. Students qualified to enroll in graduate-level courses may count these, too. 

Non-Honors students interested in taking an Honors course should complete the requisite Permission for Honors Course form and obtain the signature of the course instructor and approval of the director of the Honors Program. Forms should then be submitted to the Yeshiva College Dean's Office for the director's approval. Students will be informed by e-mail of the status of their request in a timely manner. NOTE: Successful completion of this process does not guarantee enrollment in a course that is already closed. 

 

Fall 2022 REGISTRATION GUIDELINES FOR YC HONORS STUDENTS

●   Students should generally enroll in at least one honors course per semester so as to fulfill the required 6 honors courses.

●   Graduate courses, such as those at Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, count as honors courses.

●   It is not recommended to take more than two honors courses per semester.

●   Students intending to graduate in January 2023: Should already have registered for Thesis Proposal and should submit the Proposal by the end of the current semester. You should then register for Thesis coursework credits for Fall (HON 4981H).

●   Students intending to graduate in June 2023: Must register for the 1 credit Thesis Proposal course for Fall (HON 4977H).

●   Students intending to graduate in January 2024: Should be on the lookout during the Fall for thesis topics/advisers as they take classes.

 

Honors Courses

Please also see the Registrar’s website, which is updated in case of time or other changes.

 

Evolution of the Skyscraper

ART 1635H CRN 84537

CUOT; WRIN

T 6:45-9:30

Instructor: Paul Glassman

Learn how skyscrapers are designed, developed, and built.  Since the tall office building flourished in Chicago as nowhere else at the close of the 19th century, we will explore its roots in that city.  New York City, with its unparalleled concentration of skyscrapers in lower and midtown Manhattan, will serve as our learning laboratory, and site visits will allow for close examination of materials, ornament, and public space. Practitioners with expertise in the development process and adaptive reuse will be guest speakers.

 Course topics:

▪       Early history of the tall office building: embracing the machine age

▪       Impact of zoning ordinances on urban form

▪       Role of the real estate developer

▪       Design process and the architect

▪       Systems synthesis: engineering and construction

▪       Making space comfortable: the role of the interior architect

 

Bible: Text, Context, and Jewish Interpretive Tradition

BIB 1000H, CRN 85038

WRIN

MW 3-4:15

Instructor: Moshe Bernstein

Text: books and sections of the Bible (Tenakh); authorship and canonization; text of the Bible from its earliest witnesses through the major Masoretic manuscripts; Ḥazal and the biblical text

Context: the ancient Near Eastern world in which the Bible came into being; how and why is it significant for our understanding of Tenakh?

Tradition: translations of the Bible; Jewish biblical interpretation through the ages, with a non-exclusive emphasis on the approach of peshat

All of the issues specified under the headings Text, Context and Tradition are fundamental to the study and understanding of Tenakh within the larger framework of talmud Torah.

The primary sources we shall study range from Tenakh itself through pre-rabbinic and rabbinic Jewish texts from antiquity and down to the Middle Ages. Selections from modern secondary literature will aid in framing our discussions.

Presentations will vary in approach, from informational to methodological. Bibliographical guidance will be offered.

All of this is intended to help you in developing your own interests, skills, and approaches as you join in the search for what Rashbam (Genesis 37:2) refers to as the פשטות המתחדשים בכל יום.

Midterm and final examinations.

There is no single research paper for the class; there will be several essay or review assignments correlated with the large units of the course.

 

BIOINFORMATICS 

CHE 1372 C, CRN 85088

Mon 5:50-10:05pm

Instructor: Raji Viswanathan

Modern Biology is data driven and bioinformatics is the combination of Biology and computing. With the data floods, analysis has become challenging. Bioinformatics has developed powerful tools to study problems that include large scale genetic sequencing and studies to understand how certain genes originate and change during evolution. This course will introduce students to some important tools in Bioinformatics that are necessary for the practice of modern biology and medicine.

 

The course will introduce students to basic web-based tools for searching for similar sequences in proteins and nucleotides, accessing databases for protein structures and genes, visualizing molecular structures, to name a few. The course will also train students to read and interpret primary literature articles, write research reports, and make oral presentations.

 

Face-to-Face

ENG 1026H, CRN 84307

MW 4:30-5:45

COWC; WRIN

Instructor: Elizabeth Stewart

The basis of identity is to a large extent visual, and images are the bricks and mortar of what we eventually come to think of as cultural identity. As Aristotle claimed, we learn to become ourselves by imitating what we see (on the stage) in front of us—for us, the film screen—and we become ourselves by imitating our cultural ideals. This course explores the role cinematic images play in creating narratives about a multiplicity of cultural identities. Aristotle also insisted that it is the “ideal” character created on the stage who will aid in creating “ideal” citizens. In other words, Aristotle knew that the visual/verbal arts—in his case, theater, in our case film—have not only a representative function, but an ideological one as well. But cinematic images, like images in the other arts, have also held the function of “naturalizing” certain structures of oppression and domination as well as challenging them. This course will explore how American and foreign film represents various racial, class, gender, ethnic, and national identities, and how they reproduce and challenge those representations at the same time. While the course pays attention to both cognition and affect in our reception of film, it will emphasize the study of affect in cinematic identification, projection, and enjoyment.

 

Jews in Western Literature

ENG 2453H, CRN 85069

TR 6:45-8:00

Instructor: Shaina Trapedo

From medieval blood libels to Ulysses’s Leopold Bloom, the figure of the Jew has loomed large in the Western literary imagination. This course will examine how authors through the ages have represented Jewishness in poetry and prose for their predominantly Christian readers. How are Jews positioned in relation to law, commerce, community, morality, sexuality, wisdom, and faith in the fictional worlds they inhabit? What technical or thematic purpose do Jewish characters serve in the construction of text as a whole? Through deep engagement with a variety of texts, we’ll consider to what extent these works reflect, reinforce, challenge, and/or change the existing archetypes and assumptions about Jews in their respective historical and cultural moments, and how these characterizations reverberate in the social history of anti-semitism (and philosemitism). We’ll also briefly consider the literary afterlives of these characters in the hands of Jewish writers, such as Will Eisner’s graphic novel Faygin and Philip Roth’s Operation Shylock.

Taught under the auspices of both the English department and the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought, this course will feature occasional guest lectures by affiliated humanities faculty. 

 

Schools of Aggadah

JST 1260H, CRN 85068

W 6:45-8:25

Instructor: Ari Bergmann

This course will examine in-depth several demonstrative aggadot through the lens of the major critical schools of the past century and contrast them with the interpretative approach of the various traditional schools throughout the ages. The course will start with an analysis of the definition of aggadah and its distinction from the legal content of the Talmud, moving on to analyzing narratives and evaluating chronologically how the various interpretative schools dealt with the text. The course will further investigate how these various schools dealt with the evolution of sugyot between the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmuds. All Texts will be read in the original, but translations will be provided. Basic knowledge or previous study of Talmud is required.

 

Ethics in Artificial Intelligence

JST 2665H, CRN 85042

TR 3-4:15

Instructor: Nathan Wiederblank

Artificial Intelligence is having an increasingly substantive impact on many aspects of our individual lives and on society, but is fraught with many ethical dilemmas (see, for example, the extensive coverage in recent months by the Wall Street Journal of various questionable behaviors within Facebook). This course is designed to sensitize our students to such dilemmas and arm them with the intellectual framework to analyze them and react accordingly.

 

Repentance and Forgiveness

PHI/JTP 4930H, CRN 85045

MW 3-4:15

Instructor: Shalom Carmy

One part of the course is to study major Jewish works on repentance and related topics, with focus on conceptual and textual analysis but also on the development of ideas and how later writers (e.g. R. Soloveitchik and R. Hutner) use earlier writers (e.g. Rambam, Likutei Torah, Maharal). We begin with Biblical period and go on to major medieval and modern writers. A long list includes (time and interest permitting) Saadia, R. Bahye ibn Pakuda, Rambam, R. Yona, R. Yosef Albo, RMH Luzzato, R. Shneur Zalman of Liady, R. Kook, R. Soloveitchik, R. Hutner and some Musar writers. 

 We will also examine classical philosophical writers from the Greeks through Kant, Nietzche, Scheler and Arendt and recent work in analytic philosophy dealing with forgiveness. 

 There will be several writing assignments, mostly reaction to articles, but also discussions of historical, literary and psychological material. 

 

Metaphysics

PHI 1550H, CRN 85034

TR 4:30-5:45

Instructor: Meir Itamar Rosensweig

Metaphysics is the study of ultimate reality. This course is an inquiry into the nature of the external world, time and space, the nature of rational beings, free will, God, physicalism and dualism, truth, and the identity of material objects. Special attention will be paid to the intersection of analytic metaphysics with Jewish thought and philosophy. 

 

 

FTOC: First year students must register for one of the following seminars:

 

Authorship: Plato to Wikipedia

ENG 1023H, CRN 84917

F 10-12:30

CUOT

Instructor: Lauren Fitzgerald

This course explores a topic that you might be surprised to learn will come up frequently in your work as a college student, representations of authorship over the last ~2500 years. From a historical perspective, and because depictions of this process have changed significantly over the centuries, we’ll consider how famous authors have described where ideas for writing come from: Is it divine inspiration? The world around them? Imitation of previous authors? Hard work and craftsmanship? An expression of who we are? Collaborations with others? We’ll also address more recent perspectives on who gets to be called an author: For instance, why is there a debate about whether Shakespeare authored his works? Are women writers part of the authorial tradition? What about college students? Most important, we’ll look at why this topic matters to you, right now. Ever wonder why, as a student, you must produce original writing, usually on your own, when the writing that people do on the job and/or the internet can be anonymous, collaborative, imitative, and even, strictly speaking, plagiarized? We’ll tackle this question too and raise many others about the far-reaching topic of authorship.

 

Music and World Wars

MUS 1013H, CRN 84373

F 10-12:30

COWC

Instructor: Daniel Beliavsky

Broadly, this course attempts to show how in the first half of the 20th century, European and American art music not only fell within the canonic continuum of past development and innovation, but simultaneously was an eclectic collection transformed and considerably influenced by the World Wars and by non-Western aesthetic techniques, philosophy, and practice.

 Specifically, by analyzing the influence of dictators Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin on musical expression within their respective countries and on composers such as Richard Strauss, Arnold Schoenberg, Dmitri Shostakovich, and Sergei Prokofiev, this course examines the connections among oppression, resistance, and aesthetic conservatism and iconoclasm. Further topics include narratives of specific imprisonments and emigrations that resulted from the wars.  

 

France and its Others

ENG 1009H, CRN 84204

F 10-12:30

CUOT

Instructor: Rachel Mesch

While the notion of a cultural “melting pot” is central to American society, French society has been structured around a distinctly French notion of universalism: the idea that there are core universal values that must supersede those of any minority subculture. Thus, although Americans regularly embrace multiple identifications--as African-Americans, or Jewish Americans, for example--in France that double alliance is largely experienced as a tension.

This class traces the roots of that tension by examining ways that otherness has inspired and troubled the French imagination through literary, historical and philosophical readings by major French writers from the 1500s to the present day. From Montaigne’s cannibals to the noble savages of Enlightenment texts, from Zola’s “J’accuse!” to the story of Babar, from the female other to the other as Jew to the other as Jewish female, we will explore the myriad ways through which France’s imagined others serve as manifestations of a cultural fascination with and anxiety about difference in its many forms. As we analyze the various intellectual conflicts that have arisen from the quest to understand what is deemed different, foreign, exotic or strange, we will also trace a struggle to define and circumscribe notions of French identity, selfhood and authority. Finally, at the semester’s end, we will use what we have synthesized from these thinkers to consider contemporary debates in French society about the place of religious and ethnic difference in the public sphere.

 

The Imperial Self

ENG 1010H, CRN 86222

F 10-12:30

INTC

Instructor: Frederic Sugarman

 A close reading of selected works of Jonathan Edwards, RW Emerson and Walt Whitman  to understand how the widely accepted notion of “American individualism” is in fact a cultural movement (embodied in the works of these authors) away from the authority and structure of collective life inherent in Church, State and Family towards a redefinition of individual agency and authority.  These three “prophets” working in diverse literary or social forms – sermons, autobiographies, essays and poems -- that actively undermine these institutions of communal activity and posit the “imperial self: as the sole source for human authority.  

The culmination of this discussion will be the lifelong and organic work of Walt Whitman.  Whitman produced multiple editions of his poems over his lifetime so we will be examining his development through the first edition of his poems in 1855, perhaps his finest edition in 1860 and the last edition published after his death in 1892.  We will also be placing Whitman in the context of New York City and its growth as an Imperial City by meeting on the Brooklyn Bridge (“Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”) and walking to various Whitman “shrines” in Brooklyn, NY.  The work of the architect/engineer for the Brooklyn Bridge, John Roebling, will expand our consideration of the Imperial Self into the actual physical/architectural life of New York and the American consciousness.

 

Epistemology of Judaism PHI/JTP 4932H, CRNs 86292/85035 (cross listed) F 10-12:30 Instructor: David Johnson, Meir Soloveichik Using the resources of analytic philosophy (especially: logic) and of traditional Jewish philosophy (especially: rabbinical writings), and the services of a logician and a rabbi, this course will explore in an exceedingly deep way the possible answers to two fundamentally important questions: How do you know that the God of Abraham exists? How do you know that Judaism is true? The course is entirely self-contained and has no prerequisites. Everything you need to know, for the purposes of the course, about technical matters (logic, probability, Hebrew, rabbinical writings, etc.) will be fully explained within the course.

 

Requirements

Students Admitted to the Program

To remain in good standing, students must:

  • Take 6 Honors Courses, typically 1 per semester
  • Maintain GPA 3.5 or Higher
  • Complete Honors Thesis
  • Complete at least 94 on-campus credits

Current Yeshiva College Students Applying for Admissions

Students currently attending Yeshiva College who wish to apply to enter the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program must fill out an application form.

Criteria for admission:

  • A 3.7 GPA while at the college
  • Competent writing: the grade of A or A- in two courses in Composition or Literature
  • At least two strong recommendations from your college instructors.
  • In addition, it is advantageous to have achieved at least a 1400 on the SATs or a 32 on the ACTs.
  • Interest in completing the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program

Criteria for All Types of Honors Courses

As one goal of virtually all honors courses, regardless of field, the Honors Committee welcomes especially articulate communication and self-expression in person and in writing. In addition, to receive approval from the Committee, you must design your Honors Course to meet some of the following criteria:

  • Sophisticated, challenging thinking: critical, analytic, quantitative, scientific, interdisciplinary, and/or creative. 
  • Active employment of current discourse, methods, techniques, and theories in the relevant field or fields of inquiry. 
  • Critical investigation of primary as well as secondary sources. 
  • Independent learning with opportunities to exercise intellectual initiative. 
  • Pursuit of one or more research projects. 
  • Experiences that take advantage of the rich cultural, intellectual, institutional, and environmental resources of the New York area. 
  • Synthesis of discourse, knowledge, methods, theories and/or modes of thinking from two or more disciplines. 
  • Intensive writing and revision which facilitate growth as a thinker and as a writer, with publishable writing as an ultimate goal. 
  • Substantive participation by students in relevant professional activities such as a conference. 

The Senior Honors Thesis is the capstone project at the end of every Honors scholar’s Yeshiva College career. It is an opportunity to find mentorship from a favorite professor, investigate a pet interest with one-to-one guidance, and improve upon an academic resume. Thesis students will push their writing and analytical skills to their limits as they explore a question that matters to them in a meaningful, satisfying, and hopefully exciting way.  

A well-written and original thesis of high quality may substantially improve your chances for admission to the top graduate and professional programs around the country and abroad. Students who have completed theses have been successful in winning high academic honors: 50% of the valedictorians of Yeshiva College are graduates of the program, and honors students have garnered a disproportionate number of the graduation awards each year. They also have become very competitive in applying for the most prestigious fellowships: the winners of Rhodes, Goldwater, NSF Graduate Fellowships, and most of Wexner Fellowships have all been graduates of the program. These have been published as scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals, chapters of books, or even books in their own right in the humanities and/or Jewish Studies.

The process of writing a thesis involves the following steps (described below)

The Thesis Writing Process
Steps Timeframe
Finding a Mentor Spring semester 3rd year
Drafting the Proposal Summer after your third year
Submitting the Proposal September 4th year
From Proposal to Thesis October-April 4th year
Thesis Submission May 4th year

This calendar is tentative and the specific circumstances of a student (field of research, post graduate plans), etc might require to move forward or backwards those deadlines, so please read the document carefully. 

For more information, please contact the Honors Program at ychonors@yu.edu.

Finding a Mentor: Academic Matchmaking

Writing a thesis should grow organically out of your regular academic program.  Specifically, while you are taking classes or working in a lab, keep mental notes about ideas you would want to explore further or people whose work interests you.   As you think, consider who might mentor you through the process. To find a mentor, you can:

  1. Choose your mentor first, and find out what he or she is working on. Ask the potential mentor if you can join his or her research team by contributing to one aspect of his or her project. Working with the mentor, you can find a topic for your project that fits within the mentor’s research.
  2. Choose a topic, and then find a mentor willing to work with you. Consider the topics that interest you and will help you further your intellectual, academic, and career goals. Then find a professor who has both the expertise and the inclination to help you conduct the research that interests you.

It is quite acceptable to tell a professor that you are interested in doing research in his/her field of expertise, but that you do not have a specific project in mind. This will give him/her the opportunity to suggest several research possibilities for you to consider. You can begin researching who might be a suitable mentor here, via our faculty webpages.

The Honors Program can help you with ideas for professors whose interests match yours. If no appropriate professor is on the YC faculty, the Honors Program can help you find a professor at another college.

Drafting the Proposal: Getting Your Feet Wet

In its written form, the honors thesis proposal is the crucial first step for every student who aspires to complete this final requirement of the honors program. It sets forth in a concrete way the student’s commitment to write a thesis, the topic to be studied, and the faculty member who will serve as mentor. There is no “one form fits all” in the case of the honors thesis proposal nor is there a set length. However, every thesis proposal must have the following several elements:

  • Cover Sheet. This sheet should be filled out and signed by both the student and the mentor. The faculty mentor must indicate his/her approval of the proposal. You can find that document here.
  • A Working Title. While the title may be modified as time moves on, in its initial form, it should clearly indicate the topic and scope of the thesis.
  • The Thesis Statement. The thesis statement should discuss what it is the student wishes to accomplish in the thesis and/or the question(s) he wishes to answer. Depth of discussion is not the objective here, i.e. the proposal should, in summary fashion, go over previous scholarship, provide a sense of the methodology to be pursued, e.g. a thesis in the social sciences might employ a questionnaire if statistical analysis is the goal, and clarify how the thesis will contribute to the current state of research in any field of academic/intellectual endeavor.
  • Bibliography. Finally, the proposal should have a bibliography of primary and secondary sources appended which indicates that the student has investigated published books and articles relevant to the thesis topic. This bibliography should follow the citation format of the particular academic field of the thesis and thesis writers should familiarize themselves with such prior to submitting their proposal.

Submitting the Proposal and Other Paperwork: Conscientiousness Rewarded

Once your proposal is finished you will need to submit it to the Honors Program, along with any other relevant paperwork. Upon submission of the proposal, you will need the following paperwork:

  • Paperwork signup sheet
  • Finished proposal with expected bibliography

Once your proposal has been reviewed and accepted, the Honors director will sign you up for the remaining thesis courses. While HON 4978H must be worth 1 credit, you may choose how many HON 4980H is worth. You will usually take HON 4980H in your penultimate semester and 4981H in your final semester. These two courses should add up to a total of 4 credits. You may decide on the credit value for each class once your proposal is accepted.

This means that if you sign up HON 4980H for 2 credits in your penultimate semester, you will sign up HON 4981H for 2 credits in the final semester. If, on the other hand, you sign up HON 4980H for 1 credit in the penultimate semester, you will need to sign up HON 4981H for 3 credits in the final semester. Note that in some cases, it is possible to assign all 4 credits to HON 4981H in the final semester.

From Proposal to Thesis: Writing the Thesis

During the thesis writing process, you should meet regularly with your mentor. While there is no formal requirement, in general, a schedule of more regular meetings leads to steadier progress on the thesis. The mentor should also help you to determine deadlines for individual pieces of the project.

As part of the thesis writing process, you will also participate in a series of seminars with your fellow thesis writers and a professor who will help you with some of the general aspects of thesis writing. Topics for these seminar sessions include time management, organization, introduction and conclusion writing, research documentation, revision and editing, and oral presentation skills.

Please note while you write what past graders have said about the thesis. When asked about the qualities of a successful thesis, they answered that a thesis should be an original, compelling, sustained argument, written effectively, lucidly, correctly and interestingly.

Thesis Submission: The Home Stretch

Theses must begin with a cover page and follow formatting guidelines available here. A signed publication consent form must accompany your submission. 

Once we receive your thesis, the evaluation process starts. Your thesis will have two different readers, each one of which will submit a review, and a grade for the work. One of them will be your thesis mentor, while the other will be designated by the program in consultation with you and your mentor. They might suggest some minor modifications. The final grade will be assigned by the program and it is arrived at by averaging the grades submitted by the readers. In the very unusual case of a discrepancy between the grades proposed by the two readers by more than a full letter grade, the program might request the opinion of a third reader.

There is a graduation dinner/luncheon to celebrate the achievement of the graduating honors students. It takes place at the end of the year usually the day before commencement so that parents and family members can attend, and students have the opportunity to give a short presentation of the highlights of their research.

The final version of the thesis is bound and kept in the honors library and also is stored electronically in the Yeshiva University Library. Since the electronic version is accessible from outside the University, students have to give a consent for this publication.

See past theses in the Honors Library, and the YU Library, and follow the link to see last year’s Honors Dinner Program with titles of all the theses.

Important FAQs

  • Does the thesis have to on a topic related to my major?
    For many students, the answer is yes. But, it is not unusual for a student to choose a topic from an academic field in which he is minoring, or one connected to some other interest of his, for example Jewish studies.
  • May I choose a mentor who is not a member of the YU faculty?
    Although most students find a mentor within the YU community, over the years some have chosen to work with someone from, for example, Columbia, NYU, Bar- Ilan University, and the University of Pittsburgh. You will need to identify who your external mentor is and get approval from the honors program before beginning your thesis research and writing. The honors program will be in regular contact with the external mentor to make sure that the process goes smoothly and that we share the same expectations from the thesis. And, in many cases, it will designate an internal mentor as a liaison between the external mentor and the program.
  • May a collection of short stories, a novella, a portfolio of artwork, or the making of a film, for example, fulfill the requirements for completion of an honors thesis?
    Several recent thesis writers have submitted works of fiction, a photographic essay, or musical piece as part of the thesis, always under the mentorship of a faculty member, and as part of an academic project. We encourage these types of submissions, and can help explain the specific requirements.
  • May I begin my thesis work before the beginning of my fourth year on campus?
    By all means, we strongly encourage it. At the beginning of your third year on campus, you should start to think about possible topics and mentors.
  • By when must a thesis be submitted?
    Students should submit the thesis during the last week of classes, prior to reading week, in the semester in which they plan to graduate.
  • May I finish writing the thesis during the summer?
    If you are in no hurry to get your diploma in May, then you may continue your writing over the summer. If you wish to receive a September diploma, then your thesis should be completed and submitted by mid-August.

All forms below are PDFs.

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