The History Department’s Comps process occurs during WINTER TERM and is worth 12 credits. Seniors enroll in both History 400 and a section of History 398. In 2017-2018, two sections of HIST 398 are offered:

  • HIST 398-01 Professor Thabiti Willis, MW 1:50-3:00 pm, F 2:20-3:20 pm, Lei 202
    HIST 398-02 Professor Susannah Ottaway, MW 8:30-9:40 am, F 8:30-9:30 am 202
  • HIST 400.00 Integrative Exercise
    Required of all seniors majoring in history.


Fall 2017

  • Tuesday, September 19, 2017:   Required comps instructional session for all seniors. Seniors will confirm their content adviser(s).
  • Monday, October 16, 2017: Fall mid-term break
  • Friday, October 20, 2017: Final Comps proposals due in the History Department (210 Leighton) by 12 noon. 
    Seniors should submit a full draft to their content advisors two weeks before the deadline (or earlier).
  • Also on Friday, October 20, 2017: Application for David Parks Winter Break Research funding due by 12:00 noon in Leighton 210.
  • Monday, October 30, 2017, Registration begins: Seniors register for History 400 and the designated section of History 398

Winter 2018

  • First week of classes: 10-15  page section of comps draft due to Comps seminar adviser and content adviser.
  • Fourth-sixth week: Full draft due (specific due dates set by seminar leader)
  • Monday, February 5, 2018, Winter mid-term break
  • Friday, 2 March 2018: Final version due
  • Tenth week: Oral Defenses

Spring 2018

  • Receive notification on outcome. (Please note:  all Comps grades will be posted at the end of Spring term.)
  • Monday, April 30, 2018, Spring mid-term break
  • Thursday, May 10, 2018, 12:00-1:00 pm (Common Time), Library Athenaeum, Spring Comps Presentations and Lunch (voluntary participation)
  • Also on Thursday, May 10, 2018, 5:00-6:00 pm, Leighton 236, Juniors Mandatory Comps Pizza dinner meeting with Comp Directors Susannah Ottaway and Thabiti Willis.


The Comps Proposal is a ca. five-page document that should include the following elements:

  • The significance of your topic and an initial discussion of its relationship to current scholarship
  • Your key research questions
  • Discussion of the kinds of primary sources you anticipate using and how you will access them (if not obvious).

Note: Please remember that you need IRB approval before you can begin any oral history comps projects research: IRB APPROVAL FORM

·         Formal bibliography including primary sources and relevant scholarship (not counted in the 5 page limit)

  • List of relevant coursework (not included in the 5 page limit)

Please note: We will not accept projects for which you do not have sufficient background and coursework. If your project grows out of your research paper in a 300-level seminar, please state explicitly the ways in which the comps paper will differ from that earlier project.

  • Proposed class schedule for Winter term (not counted in the 5 page limit). This information is necessary in creating the 398-seminar groups.

Regarding each element, you should be as specific and concrete as possible at this point, even though you will refine your formulation considerably after further research and reflection.

Any seniors studying off-campus are required to observe the same deadlines for the comps proposal and should consult with the Comps seminar leaders and their content advisor before fall term begins to establish a timeline.

Once your proposals have been submitted, the Comps directors will review them, and you will be notified as to whether or not your proposal has been accepted. If it has not been accepted, you will be informed by e-mail about what needs to be done so it can be accepted. 

After comps proposals have been accepted, Comps directors will form seminars designed to around shared themes, regions, and problems to enhance peer-peer conversations. We will inform you which History 398 section you have been assigned to and need to register for winter term.

Please click here to visit a sample of a recent Senior Research Proposal, written by Tyler Spaeth, '16. Also click on the mp4 link at the bottom of this page to view our 2017 Voluntary Comps presentations by Ellie Durling and Elaine Sundberg.

Please direct questions to Comps Directors Susannah Ottaway and/or Thabiti Willis.


Dean's Office: The Office of Student Fellowships has added a new funding opportunity this year. We'll make up to 10 awards of up to $2,000 apiece for students to pursue ​comps research over Winter Break Applications (which draw directly on your comps proposal) are due October 17th. Decisions will be announced October 31st. See Dean's Fellowships for Comps Research  Please send any questions to Mary Ryan Van Zee, Director of Student Fellowships 

History department fellowships:
Edward H. (Ted) Mullin Fellowship
David Parks Memorial Fellowship