Seniors interested in writing a senior honors thesis:
If you are interested in writing a senior thesis, we will provide both individual supervision and a community of like-minded students to support you. Some examples of theses written by students in the concentration include:
- “On Lawrence Summers, Women, and Science: Changing Debates About the Biology of Sex Differences at Harvard Since 1969”
- “The Uncivilized Camera: Television Technology and the Vietnam War”
- “Faith Displayed as Science: The Role of the ‘Creation Museum’ in the Modern American Creationist Movement”
- “From Whaling to Whale Watching: Human Interaction With Whales in Coastal Massachusetts, 1820-1992”
- “Population as Discourse: Medicine in Late Colonial Kenya
- “Ministering to Dixie: Medicine and Distinctiveness in the American South, 1840-1870”
- “Wild Goose Chase: The Communal Science of Waterfowl Migration Study in North America, 1880-1940”
Many of our theses go on to win College awards, and some have even been published in professional journals. Students are welcome to look through the collection of past and present senior theses that are located in the Department of the History of Science, or to visit the Harvard Archives for archived copies of past theses.
Seniors interested in a non-thesis honors track:
Non-thesis writing students may be able to graduate with honors from the concentration (but not “high honors” or “highest honors”). To graduate “with honors,” you are required to do two things:
(1) maintain a GPA in concentration work equivalent to the College-wide cut-off for degrees magna cum laude in field; the 2019 cutoff was 3.846.
(2) Successfully complete (with a minimum B+ grade) at least one graduate-level (i.e., 200 level) course in the history of science or in an appropriate other department (e.g., History). This requirement can also be met by completing a graduate-level track of work, as determined by the faculty instructor, offered within a 100-level course. The course is normally taken in the senior year, and is in addition to the minimum number of courses required to graduate from the concentration without honors.
Seniors who choose not to write a senior thesis:
There are many good reasons why a senior in our concentration may decide not to write a senior thesis, and we know that. We are interested in ensuring that your final year with us is as rewarding as possible. Some of our seniors who choose not to write a senior thesis take courses for concentration credit at one of the professional schools (Medical School, School of Public Health, Law School). Others pursue an independent study project or guided reading and research with a faculty member for one semester. A for-credit internship helping design an exhibition and learning curatorial skills could be an exciting option for still others (see "Opportunities for Concentrators"). Still others concentrate on medical school applications, varsity athletics or other priorities while completing their requirements with us. Come talk to us and let us help you find the best path forward for you.