Departmental Honors

Departmental Distinction recognizes exceptional achievement within your Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures (MLLC) major(s).

These honors are awarded at graduation, and—under the tutelage of our faculty members, Butler’s Career and Professional Success office (CaPS), and the Engaged Learning Center (ELC), as well as participation in our FL 499, Senior Keystone and various Honors Thesis courses—they illustrate the depth of your liberal arts education on post-Commencement applications for grad schools and service organizations, as well as on résumés in the pursuit of professional or governmental employment.

Download our Departmental Distinction packet.

Honors Levels Obtainable

Departmental Distinction

  • 3.6 or above GPA within MLLC major
  • These are awarded automatically and require no further work on your part

Departmental High Distinction

Departmental Highest Distinction

* = The STAMP Assessment examines four proficiencies in the target language. You must score at least one “Advanced Low” and nothing below “Intermediate High.” Full information can be found below.

Where to Begin

Calculate the GPA Within Your Major

  1. Download and use the Individualized Major’s Excel “Application Form” workbook (found on the webpage at that link).
  2. On the bottom row of tabs in the Excel file, click on “Courses.”
  3. Enter as much information as you can about the courses you’ve completed—with a “C-” or better—that count toward your MLLC major. Don’t forget “FL” courses (up to three credits; Foreign Language classes taught in a language other than Chinese, French, German, or Spanish) or “RX” courses (up to six credits of eligible Medical Spanish courses at the 300 level). As a reminder of the courses you’ve completed, view your unofficial transcript via my.butler.
  4. Placement credits and pass/fail courses—including those transferred into Butler from other institutions both stateside and study abroad—are not included in your GPA calculation.
  5. Compare your calculated GPA with the minimums listed atop this webpage.

Note: Be sure to include in-progress and anticipated, future courses.

Acquire an Honors Advisor

As with Internships, you must approach and secure a full-time, MLLC faculty member (at the “Instructor” or various “Professor” levels) to be your Departmental Distinction advisor.

Those completing the examination process (including the MLLC Departmental Distinction ePortfolio and STAMP Proficiency Assessment) typically acquire a Departmental Distinction advisor during their second-to-last semester (and no later than the beginning weeks of their last).  The absolute deadline to secure an advisor is February 28th.  At this point, STAMP exam results have been returned and students will know whether they have met the requirements to continue.

However, those completing a Departmental Honors Thesis typically must acquire a Departmental Distinction advisor (and thesis readers) no later than the first semester of their third year.

Establish a Plan

Decide if You Will Complete a Thesis, the Examination Process, or Both

If you’ll be completing the process of researching and writing an Honors Thesis—whether for Departmental High or Highest Distinction—please carefully read through and follow the instructions on the University-wide Honors Program’s Thesis webpage. Pay special attention to the timeline, which starts early in your Butler career!

Note: Your Honors Thesis can be written in English. However, you must submit an abstract for your Honors Thesis in the target language. Also, a significant portion of the primary sources and/or data collection and quotes should be in the target language.

If you’ll be completing the examination process (which includes the MLLC Departmental Distinction ePortfolio and STAMP Proficiency Assessment)—whether for Departmental High or Highest Distinction—please carefully read through and follow all of the instructions below.

Consider Enrolling in CN/FR/GR/SP 499, Honors Thesis

If you’ll be writing an Honors Thesis for Departmental High or Highest Distinction, you may find this course helpful. It is best taken in your second-to-last semester.

The objective is to equip you with research techniques, terminology, methodology, and other language-specific knowledge that you’ll need in order to successfully complete a thesis proposal and undertake the thesis.

Again, your Honors Thesis can be written in English. However, you must submit an abstract for your Honors Thesis in the target language. Also, a significant portion of the primary sources and/or data collection and quotes should be in the target language.

Note: Your Instructor will be the Modern Languages faculty member that you approached and secured to be your Departmental Distinction Advisor.

Consider Enrolling in FL 499, Senior Keystone

It is strongly suggested that you enroll in our FL 499, Senior Keystone course during your final year—an experience supplementing and supporting the final days of your Departmental Distinction process (in addition to life Day One, post-Commencement).

Note: The course is pass/fail, one credit, in English, and does not count toward your MLLC major.

Prepare for Your Presentation(s)

Whether you complete the examination process (including the MLLC Departmental Distinction ePortfolio and STAMP Proficiency Assessment) and/or an Honors Thesis, all completed works must be presented in-person.

The completed Honors Thesis—after receiving approval from the MLLC department chair and acquiring the required signatures on the Certification Page (primary and secondary readers, as well as the Honors Program coordinator)—requires an oral/public presentation at Butler’s Undergraduate Research Conference (URC) or other regional conference, in front of MLLC faculty and students, or at an alternative venue approved by the Honors Program office.

The examination process culminates in a roughly 30-minute oral examination and Q&A (in the target language and including materials from the Departmental Distinction ePortfolio) conducted by an Departmental-Distinction-Advisor-chosen panel of faculty during your final year.

Prepare for the STAMP Proficiency Assessment (if applicable)

If you’re completing the examination process, it includes the STAMP Proficiency Assessment.

The Standards-Based Measurement of Proficiency (STAMP) assessment is an internationally-recognized exam that determines your language proficiency in four domains (Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking). STAMP is web-based and computer-adaptive, with real-world questions on topics selected to be level-appropriate based on research into topics taught at each level. The questions will engage you and, because it is adaptive, you’ll be able to demonstrate your actual proficiency levels without pre-set upper limits. The exam was originally developed by the Center for Applied Second Language Studies, a National Foreign Language Resource Center at the University of Oregon, and funded by the US Department of Education. The exam has been validated by field testing and expert panels. The STAMP Assessment Exam is a secure test that will be taken on Butler’s campus, proctored by a Modern Languages faculty member.

For each of the exam’s four sections, you’ll receive a STAMP Benchmark Level score. The scores are grouped by major levels (Novice, Intermediate, and Advanced). Within each major level are three sub-levels, aligned to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages’ (ACTFL) low, mid, and high designations.

You must score:

  1. at least one “Advanced Low” or higher, AND
  2. nothing below “Intermediate High”

For specific questions about the STAMP Proficiency Assessment or ACTFL standards, please contact our student Modern Language Center’s faculty director.

Examination Process Required Materials

In addition to earning the required Benchmark Level scores (immediately above) on your STAMP Proficiency Assessment, your MLLC Departmental Distinction ePortfolio, its contents, and its presentation (in the target language) will feature prominently in the examination process.

Materials that should be included in the Departmental Distinction ePortfolio are written narratives, audio samples, and other “artifact” collections (i.e., videos, artwork, websites, PowerPoint presentations, etc.).

This process complies with the following five standards as laid out by the University-wide Honors Program:

  1. Be developed and administered by the departments or programs;
  2. Be relevant to the student’s coursework in the department;
  3. Include a written component;
  4. Include a component that is common to all students, and that tests their understanding of core knowledge in the discipline; and
  5. Include questions that require synthesis of ideas and comprehensive reflection about a substantial portion of the student’s departmental coursework.

Each section below lists the criteria required as part of the examination process. (Example topics are provided.)

You should, through your presentation and examples provided, offer evidence of the ability to conduct a sophisticated oral argument on abstract and concrete topics in the target language.

  • How have you improved your skills in this area over time?
  • Mention specific situational examples (presentations, trips, meetings with native speakers) which demonstrate this improvement.
  • Is there a recent oral presentation of which you are particularly proud?
  • How did in-class and study abroad experiences help in this area?
  • Narrative examples of positive growth or improvement: “After first-year French I could not order wine in a restaurant, but after 300-level I was joking with the waiter about different kinds of caviar.” Or, “After 300-level French I had this amazing discussion about communism in Paris with a guy named Jacques.”
  • Audio/video recording of a 300- or 400-level class presentation.
  • Note cards, visuals, and summaries of discussion from presentations.
  • Accounts of participation/discussions/contributions in upper-level seminar classes.

Your should show evidence of your ability to read extensive and authentic texts with a high degree of understanding in the target language.

  • What have you read? Which texts have had deeper meaning for you?
  • How has your progression in ability been reflected in the types of texts you read in the 200 level to present level?
  • How did in-class and study abroad experiences help in this area?
  • Offer texts you have read, novels, poetry, newspaper clippings, advertisements, letters, etc.
  • Offer summaries of texts you have dealt with and how they have influenced you. For example, after reading Goethe’s Werther, what was your reaction? Emotional? Rational? Intellectual?
  • Comment especially on the intellectual influence these texts have had on you.

You should be able to structure coherent and sophisticated arguments in the target language. Writing should display sound acquisition of grammatical structures and vocabulary with competent linguistic accuracy.

  • How have you improved your skills in this area over time?
  • What examples of papers, compositions, essays, and homework assignments could you provide?
  • What authentic writing experiences have you been able to accumulate (pen pal, applications, email, web-chat)?
  • Compare a composition from SP 204 and a film review of the latest Almodóvar film for your 400-level Spanish Films class. How has your writing changed? Show evidence of improvement and expansion.
  • Synthesize your writing experience in a brief narrative. Are you satisfied today with the level attained? How might you continue to improve?

You should demonstrate your ability to comprehend spoken utterances of native speakers—in the target language—with little-to-no difficulty.

  • What contact have you had with real native speakers? Describe the experiences and how your comfort level has changed over time.
  • Can you now watch a French movie without subtitles? Do you find yourself irritated by those subtitles or hate the dubbed voices of American productions?
  • Describe your comprehension level of sophisticated auditory samples: i.e., news, DJ talk, songs, university lectures, etc.
  • A narrative of your comprehension of Spanish news reports about recent elections in Mexico.
  • Evaluate your development in understanding from beginning Spanish courses to later upper-division work. (“In Spanish 102 I could fill in the missing verb, today I can complete ideas for my teachers before they finish the sentences.”)

You should demonstrate your knowledge of formal and informal aspects of international cultures, as well as the ability to think effectively about social, political, ethical, and moral issues—all in the target language.

  • What impressions do you have of cultural differences and similarities?
  • What particular literary, artistic, historic, cinematic movement/genre have you investigated in greater depth over the course of your career?
  • What political, social, economic, religious issues have you encountered, studied, dealt with, discussed at parties or been moved to argue over at any length?
  • Give a concrete description of a moment in which you felt culturally sophisticated in your field, or in which you felt truly “at home” in the target language.
  • What did you not know as a freshman that is in your back pocket today?
  • Bring in the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and compare it to your understanding of your own identity or idea of citizenship.
  • Tell which German stereotypes are, after your closer inspection, completely untrue or unjustified.

You must synthesize your experiences and comment on your own intellectual growth during your studies, in the target language.

  • How has your study of language, literature, and culture enhanced your life and your global appreciation?
  • In the film Dances with Wolves, the Kevin Costner character experiences a gradual transformation from understanding virtually nothing of the language and the culture of Native Americans, to slowly understanding some things, and finally becoming culturally and linguistically fluent. Would you describe your experience with your language of study in these terms, or would you propose a different analogy which better fits your “transformation”?
  • Have you had experiences throughout this language-learning process which you would describe as emblematic (Symbolic? Metaphoric?) for your development? Why?
  • What were some of your motivations in learning this foreign language? Did these change over time? Which things helped you most along the way, and which impeded your progress? Were there things you would have done differently, if you were to go through the program again? Why?