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Undergraduate Honors in Education

The Graduate School of Education (GSE) Honors program provides a small number of students each year with the opportunity to pursue independent inquiry under the close mentorship of Stanford GSE faculty.

Honors students pursue a wide range of thesis projects with intellectual tools from a variety of academic disciplines in the social sciences and humanities. They often engage directly with communities of practice, working alongside educators and reformers on and off campus.

Program Information

Students typically lay the groundwork for Stanford GSE Honors through coursework in the Graduate School of Education during the first three years of their time at Stanford.  They apply for the honors program during their junior year.  The summer following their acceptance into the program, students begin preparing for the thesis year in earnest, typically through the Bing Honors College.

Prospective students will have the option of beginning their program during Spring Quarter of their junior year (option #1), which facilitates data collection over the summer; or Autumn Quarter of their senior year (option #2).

To commence in the Spring Quarter of their junior year (option #1), students must be admitted during the program’s Autumn Quarter admission round during their junior year. Upon admission, students will discuss their research interests with the Program Director and be paired with a faculty advisor from among the GSE faculty. They will enroll in independent study units or EDUC 199C during Spring Quarter of their junior year, followed by EDUC 199A in the Fall and EDUC 199B in Winter of their senior year (in addition to Honors Thesis units with their thesis advisors during Autumn and Winter quarters.). Students defend their proposals orally at a public event in November. Students will be eligible, in terms of the Honors program, to apply for PSO during Spring Quarter of their senior year.

To commence in Autumn Quarter of their senior year (option #2), students must be admitted during either the program's Autumn or Winter Quarter admission rounds during their junior year. Upon admission, students will enroll in EDUC 199A: Undergraduate Honors Seminar (3 units) in which they develop a cogent proposal for their inquiries.  Students defend their proposals orally at a public event in November.  At that time, each student also is paired with an individual advisor from among the Graduate School of Education faculty. During Winter and Spring Quarters, students enroll in 199B and 199C, respectively.  Both are 1-unit courses providing continued support toward completion of their projects under the mentorship of the Honors Director.  Students also register for additional Honors Thesis units with their thesis advisors during Winter and Spring quarters.

For all students, the program concludes in May of the senior year with a public presentation and submission of the final thesis.  Upon successful completion and graduation, honors are noted on the student transcript/diploma and theses are posted in the Stanford Digital Repository.

Sample recent honors theses titles:

  • "Living the Dream: How Enrichment Program Minority Students Negotiate Ethnicity and Conceptualize Class"
  • "Seeding Survival: The Value of School Gardens in Under-Resourced Communities in Cape Town"
  • "Growing Up Girl: Literature in the Adolescent Journeys of Self and Identity"

Students will be required to complete a minimum of 9 units among 3 Education courses, taking those courses for a letter grade with a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher.

Coursework completed for the Honors program in Education should address varied topics in the field of education, and must be approved by the Honors Director and student's faculty adviser.

Note: Education Interdisciplinary Honors courses may overlap (double-count) towards major or minor requirements. The Major-Minor Course Approval form is not required for Interdisciplinary Honors programs.

The Graduate School of Education welcomes applications for projects that are reasonable and creative extensions of prior courses of study in any field.  Applicants from all fields are given equal and serious consideration.

Qualified applicants will be in good standing, normally with cumulative grade point averages of 3.5 or higher; will demonstrate exceptional initiative; and be comfortable working with a high degree of independence.

Students intending to apply to the program should schedule an informal meeting with Honors Director John Willinsky at some point during their junior year to discuss Stanford GSE honors and the potential project. Inquiries from potential applicants should include a brief description of academic background and the nature of a potential honors project.

During the 2015-16 academic year, applications for Honors in Education will be accepted in two rounds:

Fall Quarter Deadline: Monday, November 30 at noon
Winter Quarter Deadline: Friday, April 1 at noon

A complete application includes:

  • a one-page resume
  • a brief (1000 word maximum) narrative detailing:
    • the nature of the applicant’s interest in Graduate School of Education Honors (i.e., why pursue honors instead of conventional coursework? Why Graduate School of Education Honors instead of an honors degree in the major field of study?);
    • the nature of the proposed inquiry;
    • how the proposed inquiry extends the prior course of study and/or anticipates the applicant’s future ambitions
  • names of potential Honors Advisors from the Graduate School of Education faculty

A PDF version of the complete application should be sent electronically to Caroline Stasulat by the posted deadline. Please note that upon submission of the completed application, the Honors Director will review each candidate's most recent transcript in conjunction with the rest of their materials.

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