Honors Projects


Students interested in taking on a significant, expansive, and rewarding project in their final semesters as majors may wish to apply for an Honors Project. The Honors Project (Theater H195A/B) is the culmination of an outstanding career in the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS). Projects are approved each year in recognition of excellent work within the major and strong, engaging proposals that seek to answer a research question.

Almost all UC departments offer Honors Thesis/Project opportunities, which, if completed successfully, allow a student to graduate “with honors” in their chosen major. Honors Projects in TDPS are intensive critical studies of some aspect of theater, dance, or performance studies. These projects are 2-semester endeavors—an input semester and an output semester—earning 4 units each semester. 

Honors Projects can take one of two forms:

  • Research & Thesis, for which the first/input semester (Fall) is spent doing research and the second/output semester (Spring) is spent writing a 40–60 page thesis. A 10-page precis, detailing the research process, sources consulted, and other essential elements of the project, is submitted at the end of the Fall Semester for approval by the Honors Project Committee. (4 units per semester)

  • Research & Performance, a project with a practice component, for which the first/input semester (Fall) is spent researching and the second/output semester (Spring) focuses on a performance project tied to or shaped by the first semester of work. A 10-page precis, detailing the research process, sources consulted, and other essential elements of the project, is submitted at the end of the Fall Semester for approval by the Honors Project Committee. (4 units per semester)

The overall Honors Project, whether written only or a combination of writing and practice, explores and analyzes a significant problem or research question. For all projects, students will work with a Faculty Advisor.

Basic Prerequisites:

  • Declared TDPS major by time of application.

  • Minimum UC Berkeley GPA of 3.3

  • The commitment covers a full academic year, with each semester carrying 4 units of credit. Credit cannot be awarded for one semester without the other.

  • Before beginning the Honors Project, students must have completed at least 2 of the 3 required upper-division Performance Studies and/or History of Performance courses. The third course may be finished concurrently in the first semester of the Honors Project.

  • To be eligible for a Research & Performance project, you must have completed the following courses, or take them concurrently with your application process:

    • Theater 60: Introduction to Technical Theater & Production

    • At least one of the following courses related to the content/nature of your project:

      • Theater 162 for Directing

      • Theater 146A or 146B for Choreography

      • Theater 139A or 139B for Playwriting

      • Theater 111 or 142 for Performance

    • Specific disciplines (such as design, directing, choreography, etc.) carry with them certain expectations as to coursework completed or to be completed.

Honors Project Guidance:

If you are interested in applying for an Honors Project, please read the application guidelines and complete the interest form below. For further guidance, contact the Undergraduate Academic Advisor, Laxmi Kumaran, who will help you through the process: laxmik@berkeley.edu

Guidelines & Application

First Step: Your Topic

The key to an Honors Project is finding a strong topic: something you care about that warrants two semesters of research, writing, and possibly performance; something that you are eager to devote significant time and effort to. Some students will have a clear topic in mind from the beginning, and some will start with an area of interest and develop their topics over time. We strongly encourage you to start thinking about your topics as early as possible. Conversations should begin with the Undergraduate Advisor and a member or members of the faculty or staff. If you don’t know a faculty member well enough to begin the conversation, someone will be recommended by the Undergaduate Advisor or the Honors Project Committee.

Faculty Advisor

Students select a Faculty Advisor to mentor their work throughout the year of their Honors Project. This advisor may be a member of the senate faculty or a lecturer, depending on their interest and availability. If you are pursuing a project with a performance/practice component and wish to have two advisors during the year—one for the research semester and one for the performance/practice semester—you may choose two different faculty members. The actual course content and format of the H195A/B sequence depend upon the student's proposed topic as overseen by the Faculty Advisor(s). In the past, Honors Projects have encompassed directing, choreography, design, performance, acting, research, and playwriting.

Students are encouraged to start discussing projects and topics with faculty members and/or potential Faculty Advisors as early as possible, preferably in the Fall Semester of the year before the project will take place. If students are having trouble identifying faculty members to speak with, the Undergraduate Advisor can assist you. We encourage as much discussion with faculty as possible to help focus and establish parameters for your project, whether they end up advising you or not.

Honors Projects cannot move forward without a Faculty Advisor. They will oversee the entire project, monitoring the student's progress on a regular basis throughout the course. Make your best effort to find an advisor, but if you are unable to do so, you may submit an application without a designated advisor and the Honors Committee will make every effort to recommend one.

Application Requirements & Timeline

Below are the required and recommended steps to complete a competitive application. Please recognize that the standard and strongly preferred timeframe for an Honors Project is one academic year—with the first half of the project completed in the Fall, and the second half in the Spring of the same academic year. Only in unusual circumstances can projects begin in the Spring and be completed in the Fall.

Application Requirements

Completed applications must include:

  • The application form
  • A 1–2 page proposal describing the project in detail, including the area of inquiry, the questions the project is working to answer, and a clear explanation of the student's interest in the project and subject matter. Projects combining research and performance must include a description of both components.
  • A preliminary bibliography of sources the student intends to consult
  • A writing sample of at least 5 pages, demonstrating the student's writing skills. This can be a paper the student has completed for a class, or something written expressly for the application.

Application Timeline

For Honors Projects taking place during the 2024–2025 Academic Year

Fall 2023

  • Begin conversations with the Undergraduate Advisor and your potential Faculty Advisor(s).
  • Conduct research on areas of interest and possible topics.
  • Complete or have completed 1 upper-division Performance Studies course with a grade of B or higher.

Spring 2023

  • Students should spend the first nine weeks of the semester developing and researching their topic, staying in touch with the Undergraduate Advisor about their progress, and working with their Faculty Advisor(s) on their applications, if they have already been secured.
  • Completed applications for Honors Projects are due to the Undergraduate Advisor at the beginning of the sixth week of the semester: Tuesday, February 20, 2024 by 9pm (Pacific Time). Any applications submitted after the deadline may be rejected.
  • Once the Honors Project Committee has had a chance to review and evaluate applications, they will reach out to individual applicants to inform them of the status of their applications, and also help finalize the assignment of a Faculty Advisor, if one is not already officially tied to the project.
  • Final decisions will be made no later than the day before Spring Break: Friday, March 22, 2024