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Honors Program

In the spring semester of their junior year, eligible students may apply for the departmental honors program. This program is centered around producing a thesis, a publication-quality piece of original research in political science. To be eligible to apply, students should be on track to have completed all but 6 credit hours of the AXLE requirements before their senior year, should have an overall GPA of at least 3.6, and should have a political science GPA of at least 3.6.

Those who meet these criteria can apply to the program by completing the PSCI Honors Application form.

The form is due by email to the director of undergraduate studies by April 15 of the spring semester of junior year. Selected applicants will be notified in early May.

The application form provides the opportunity to demonstrate preparation to write a thesis through a description of the planned project and an accounting of the substantive and methodological courses that have provided the necessary skills to complete it. The application also requires that the student find a professor in the political science department who will commit to serve as the thesis adviser throughout the project if the application is successful.

Those admitted to the program will write the thesis over both semesters of their senior year. In the first semester, the student will enroll in a thesis-writing independent study course (PSCI 4998) with the advisor and will complete the first steps of the thesis, including securing the data/relevant resources, making a data analysis/resource-use plan, and completing a literature review. In the second semester, thesis writers who are on track will be invited to enroll in the thesis writing capstone course to complete and defend their projects.

Honors in political science will be awarded if, in addition to the requirements set by the College of Arts and Science, the political science major is completed, the GPA requirements are maintained, the thesis benchmarks are completed under PSCI 4998, the thesis writing capstone course is successfully completed, and the thesis is deemed to earn honors by the capstone course and the adviser. The honors designation will appear in the Commencement program as well as on the diploma.

Successful thesis writers tend to be students who:

  • Are deeply curious about a topic they have begun to study in political science classes;
  • Have at least the start of an idea for how that topic could be studied in greater depth;
  • Have taken classes in or out of the department that focus on research design and methods (such as statistics, data science, game theory, qualitative methods, etc.);
  • Like the idea of taking the lead on their own research project;
  • Have the time to devote to a big project (which usually means not writing a separate thesis in a different department);
  • Have use for a publication-quality piece of original research, perhaps for a graduate school application or other portfolio; and
  • Have developed a relationship with a professor in the department who has relevant expertise with whom they can work well to complete the project.

For additional information, contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Jon Hiskey.