Honors & Distinction
In this section, you will find information about Music Department honors projects, graduating with Music Department honors, and the College Honors Program.
Students wishing to be considered in the Departmental Honors Program, who have maintained at least a 3.5 average in their Music courses, should contact the Music Department chairperson during the spring semester of the sophomore year.
An Honors Project represents artistic, creative, or scholarly achievement beyond standard undergraduate Senior Project expectations. An honors senior recital will include music of exceptional technical and interpretive challenge for an undergraduate student, as well as an analytical paper (~15 pages) prepared as part of enrollment in the Recital Preparation course. An honors composition recital or an honors senior thesis likewise would be designed with exceptional challenge in mind.
A preliminary proposal for an honors senior recital or honors senior thesis must be submitted to the Music Faculty by the tenth week of the spring semester of the junior year. The proposal must be prepared in consultation with a music faculty member with experience in the area of emphasis (performance, composition, music history, or music theory), the faculty advisor, and (if a recital proposal) the applied music teacher. The proposal must be submitted to the Music Faculty, and must include a description of the project (recital repertoire, composition portfolio and recital intentions, or paper topic) and the factors that make the proposed project qualify as an honors project. The Music Faculty will either approve the proposal, or will provide the student with suggestions to strengthen the proposal. A revised proposal may be resubmitted to the Music Faculty by the beginning of the thirteenth week of the spring semester of the junior year.
You are expected to consult with your honors project supervisor during the summer before your senior year as you continue to develop the project. The final proposal for the honors project must be completed by the second week of the fall semester of your senior year. It should include a final description of the project and the factors that make the proposal qualify as an honors project. Following a review of the final proposal, the Music Faculty will give final approval or denial. If the proposal is denied approval, you may appeal this decision within one week of being informed of the Music Faculty’s decision.
Please note that acceptance of an honors project proposal does not guarantee departmental honors at graduation. In order to receive departmental honors at graduation, you must fulfill the expectations outlined in the project proposal, and must fulfill all of the honors requirements with respect to GPA (3.25 average in Music courses) and successful completion of the project outlined above. It also is important to note that you must maintain the GPA requirements (overall and departmental) throughout your senior year.
Graduation with departmental honors will be awarded on the following criteria:
- A grade of High Pass on all components of the Senior Recital or Senior Thesis that is designated by the Music Department as an Honors Project.
- Grade point average (GPA) of 3.25 in all Occidental College coursework together with a GPA of 3.5 in all Music coursework (including applied lesson grades).
- If you are qualified and intend to participate in the Departmental Honors Program, you should plan your junior year to use Independent Study or Recital Preparation courses to prepare honors-quality recital repertoire or paper topics.
Departmental distinction will be awarded on the following criteria:
- Grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 in all Occidental College coursework together with a GPA of 3.25 in all Music coursework (including applied lesson grades).
- A grade of High Pass on all components of the Senior Recital or Senior Project. Please note that Departmental Distinction is not represented on your diploma or your official transcript, but is a Music Department honor. Recipients of Departmental Distinction receive a certificate from the Music Department.
The Honors Program at Occidental College is designed to allow a superior student’s attention to be focused on an independent investigation for a sustained period of time. It is expected that students admitted to the College Honors Program will have established themselves as outstanding prospects for individualized work in the department of their major and will also have established themselves as doing work of very high quality in all that they have undertaken at Occidental. Students accepted for the College Honors Program are exempt from the eight-unit limit in Independent Study and may take Advanced Research (499) courses on an independent study basis. The purpose of such research is to prepare a special project to be submitted to the major department for evaluation. Evaluation of the completed project will be made by a committee of department faculty and may include readers from outside the department or College. Students wishing to be considered for participation in the Honors Program should contact the chair of the appropriate department during the spring semester of their sophomore year.
- Contact: Wendy Clifford, senior administrative assistant, (323) 259-2785, Booth 205
- Contact: Irene Girton, department chair, (323) 259-2590, Booth 205