Please direct questions to Comps Directors Annette Igra and/or Thabiti Willis! Thank you.


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 2019-2020, two sections of HIST 398 are offered:

  • HIST 398-01 Professor Thabiti Willis, 3a: MW 11:10 am-12:20 pm, F 12:00-1:00 pm, Lei 202 (room needs to be confirmed)
    HIST 398-02 Professor Annette Igra, 5,6c: TTh  3:30-4:55 pm, Lei 202 (room needs to be confirmed)
  • HIST 400.00 Integrative Exercise
    Required of all seniors majoring in history.


Fall 2019

  • Monday, September 16, 2019: Classes begin.
  • Tuesday, September 17, 2019: Required comps instructional Common Time session for all seniors. Seniors will confirm their content adviser(s) choices. 12:00 pm–1:00 pm/Leighton 236 (room needs to be confirmed). This meeting will be hosted by Comps Tsarina Annette Igra and Tsar Thabiti Willis.
  • Monday, October 21, 2019: Fall mid-term break
  • Monday, October 21, 2019 (date to be confirmed): Office of Student Fellowships: Senior Comps Fellowship applications
  • Seniors should submit a full draft to their content advisors two weeks before the deadline (or earlier). Your proposal needs to be approved and initialed by your Comps Content adviser to be accepted.
  • Friday, October 25, 2019: Final copy of your (roughly) 5-page comps proposal (initialed by your Comps Content Adviser) is due in the History Department (210 Leighton) by or before 12:00 pm (noon). Your electronic copy needs to be e-mailed as an attachment to Nikki Lamberty, History Administrative Assistant. See description and example below.
  • Please include your expected winter term class schedule when you submit your proposal.
  • You will receive an e-mail from the History Department about whether or not your Comps Proposal is approved, if any changes need to be made, and which section of Hist 398 you have been assigned by the Comps Committee by the end of the week of October 28th.

  • Monday, October 28, 2019: Applications for History's Parks Winter Break Comps travel/research funds are due by 12:00 noon in Leighton 210.
  • Monday, November 4, 2019: Registration begins: Seniors register for History 400 and their assigned sections of History 398.

Winter 2019

  • 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 are set by seminar leaders)
  • Monday, February 10, 2020, Winter mid-term break
  • Friday, March 6, 2020: Final version due

  • Tenth Week: History 400 Oral Defenses
  • Hist 398 grades (S/NC) are posted Winter term.

Spring 2020

  • During the first two weeks of Spring term, all Comps students receive an e-mail notice of their outcome.
  • The actual Hist 400 grades (Satisfactory/Distinction/No Credit) are posted at the end of Spring term. (Early graduating seniors' grades are required to be posted at the end of Winter term.) All seniors receive a "Continued" (CI) grade on the Winter term grade sheet for Hist 400.
  • Monday, May 4, 2020, Spring mid-term break
  • Thursday, May 7, 2020, 12:00-1:00 pm (Common Time), Library Athenaeum (room needs to be confirmed), Spring Comps Presentations and Lunch (voluntary participation).
    Click on the mp4 link at the bottom of this page to view our 2017 Voluntary Comps presentations by Ellie Durling and Elaine Sundberg.
  • Also on Thursday, May 7, 2020, 5:00-6:00 pm, Leighton 236 (room needs to be confirmed), the Juniors Mandatory Comps Pizza dinner meeting with Comp Tsarina Annette Igra and Tsar Thabiti Willis will take place.
  • Again: Hist 398 grades are posted at the end of Winter term, and Hist 400 grades are posted at the end of Spring term.


Please click here to visit a sample of a recent Senior Research Proposal, written by Tyler Spaeth, '16.

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.

HIST 400: Oral Defenses

At the end of winter term, you will have a c. 30 minute comps defense, in which you will:

  • Give a 5-minute presentation introducing you topic and explaining your most important conclusions
  • Respond to questions from your content adviser, 398 section leader, and your reading group.

You may invite family and friends to attend your defense, but please let them know that they may not ask questions unless they have read the final draft of your comps paper.


History Department David Parks Winter Break Research funds. Applications are due Monday, October 28th, 2020. Questions: Bill North, Parks Committee Chair.

 Senior Comps Fellowships. Office of Student Fellowships will 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 18, 2019 and decisions will be announced later in Fall term. Questions: Marynel Ryan Van Zee, Director of Student Fellowships.

PLEASE NOTE: There is a change to the process for applications for funding available to support student research and research-related travel available through the Dean of the College Office and the STEM Board. Instead of applying for the "Parents Fund for Academic Excellence" or for conference travel support from the STEM Board, students will now apply for Student Academic Grants ( using a revised application form.

Decisions about the amount and source of any funding awarded will be made by the DOC office staff and the STEM Board Director. Available amounts per student have been increased (up to $500 per academic year) and there is a new procedure in place to provide additional assistance to students with demonstrated financial need. Students are still encouraged to seek funding through CSA, their departments, and any other sources available to them. Feel free to direct any questions to Marynel Ryan Van Zee, Gretchen Hofmeister, or Jennifer Wolff (Director of the STEM Board).