Distinguished Majors

Mary Kuhn

Program Director


Distinguished Majors Program Guidebook

Do you have an idea for a research project that you would like to pursue in depth?  The Distinguished Majors Program gives you the opportunity to spend a year writing a scholarly essay of 40-50 pages under the individual supervision of a member of the English faculty.  The program is especially suited to those who want to work in a more self-directed fashion, over a longer period of time, than seminars generally allow.




Admission to the DMP is by application; no more than 18 students can be accepted.  Those who wish to be considered must have a GPA of 3.7 in the major and 3.6 overall by the spring of their third year.  The application itself consists of a cover form (see link above), a research proposal, a bibliography, and a reference from the faculty member who has agreed to supervise.

You should begin by sketching out some ideas for a project.  Take these to a professor you know or someone who works in the field you mean to explore; solicit recommendations for revision and ask the person if he or she would be willing to supervise your work.  Once you have hammered out a mutually satisfactory proposal, convert the cover form, the research proposal, and the bibliography to a single PDF with your last name as a title and send it as an attachment to the Director of the DMP with "DMP Application" in the subject line of the email.  Advisors should send an email to the Director confirming their involvement.  Admission decisions will be made within two weeks of the deadline.

The proposal normally consists of about 600 words.  It should include the title of the project, the primary text(s) under investigation, the central questions to be pursued, and an explanation of the project's importance.  The bibliography normally consists of a substantial reading list that makes clear the thoughtfulness and specificity of your planned course of study.

Applications for the 2021-2022 academic year are due by March 12, 2021.  Please contact the Director with any questions.



In addition to the standard requirements for the English major, members of the DMP must complete the following:

• A second 4000-level seminar in literature.

• The two-semester distinguished majors tutorial (ENGL 4998 and 4999), taken in the fourth year and resulting in an essay of 40-50 pages.

The mandatory fall seminar, ENGL 4998, gives you the tools and time to respond to your adviser's recommendations as you work to produce, in the company of your peers, the first 20+ pages of your project.  50% of your grade for ENGL 4998 is based on the classwork and writing you undertake in the seminar toward that goal.  The other 50% of your grade for ENGL 4998 will be determined by your individual adviser on the merits of your thesis draft at semester's end.  You will then complete ENGL 4999 during the spring semester by working independently toward an unblemished, final version of your thesis.  The grade for this course will be determined solely by your advisor.


The deadline for the thesis is Friday, April 9, 2021.  One copy is due to the Undergraduate Administrator by email; two further copies should be printed and bound, one of them placed in the Undergraduate Administrator's mailbox and one in the mailbox of the student's advisor.  The finished thesis will be read by the student's faculty supervisor, by a second reader from the English faculty, and, in some cases, by the Director of the DMP.  Performance in the program is then evaluated by members of an ad hoc Undergraduate Honors Committee, which will consider the quality of the thesis as assessed by its readers and the student's overall academic record.  If the committee decides that the student has achieved honors, it will recommend the designation of Distinction, High Distinction, or Highest Distinction.

The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only.  The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found at http://records.ureg.virginia.edu/index.php.