Honors Guidelines for Political Science Major

Honors Guidelines


To attempt an honors project in Political Science, a candidate must:
  1. Be a declared Political Science major who is on track to graduate in the coming Spring.
  2. Possess a GPA of at least 3.5 in all Political Science coursework and an overall GPA of 3.25 or above.
  3. Have taken the course in Research Methods, or other suitable coursework to prepare the candidate for pursuing honors research.
  4. Have contacted at least one member of the Department, preferably two, who have agreed to advise the student on the project, to read the completed thesis, and to determine whether the completed project merits honors consideration.

If all of these requirements are met, the following timeline should help you to ensure consideration of the proposed honors project.


Fall Semester Senior Year

  1. Select a topic for the thesis. The topic should permit the honors candidate to complete all necessary research and writing within one semester.
  2. Speak with a thesis advisor. You should contact a proposed primary reader who will serve as the principal advisor for the thesis. Your thesis advisor should, wherever possible, concentrate in the sub-field of the proposed thesis topic (American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, or Political Theory). To serve as a thesis advisor, the faculty member must be a full-time member of the Political Science Department (tenured, tenure-track, or visiting). If a student has any questions about which members of the Department would be appropriate readers of a proposed thesis, the student should consult the Department Chair.
  3. Speak with a second reader. Wherever possible, in addition to the thesis advisor, students should ask another faculty member to serve as a second reader of the thesis. As with the primary reader, the second reader should have some background and interest in the topic of the thesis. The second reader may, as appropriate, be a member of the Political Science Department, or a member of a discipline or department related to the thesis topic (e.g., History or Philosophy), and may be a full-time or adjunct faculty member. The student should confirm the appropriateness of a possible second reader with the thesis advisor or Department Chair prior to contacting the prospective second reader.
  4. Formulate a thesis proposal. Once your thesis advisor has agreed to work with you on your project, you should draft a proposal. The proposal should briefly (1-2 pages) describe the subject of the thesis and provide a short annotated bibliography of relevant research sources.
  5. Enroll in POSC 550. During course selection for the Spring semester, you should enroll in POSC 550 (Independent Research) on Banner. To enroll in POSC 550, you will need your thesis advisor to sign an enrollment form and then you need to submit that form to the Registrar’s Office. If you receive honors, this will be converted to an honors notation on your transcript. If you decide, for any reason, not to pursue an honors project, or if your project is not awarded honors, you will receive a grade for an Independent Research project from your thesis advisor.
  6. Complete and submit an Intent to Pursue Honors form. After enrolling in POSC 550, the student should download, complete, and submit the Intent to Pursue Honors form available here: *LINK*. This form should be signed by the student, the thesis advisor, the secondary reader (if applicable), and the Department Chair. The form should then be submitted to the Department Chair.
  7. Submit your thesis proposal no later than December 15. Once your proposal is complete, you should submit the final version to your primary and secondary reader.

Spring Semester Senior Year

  1. Meet with your thesis advisor. You should meet with your primary reader at the start of the semester and develop a plan for regular meetings and submission of drafts of your thesis.
  2. Provide drafts of your thesis. You should plan to give your thesis advisor and second reader drafts of your thesis as you are working. This will allow them to give you feedback on your writing, suggestions for your research, and guidance on your approach and performance.
  3. Submit the final draft. No later than April 10, you should provide a final draft of your thesis to your thesis advisor and second reader. Your final draft may not exceed 50 pages of 12-point text with standard margins (approximately 10,000-12,000 words). The page limit does not include any notes, appendices, or bibliography.
  4. Post-submission faculty review. Your thesis advisor and second reader will carefully review your final thesis draft. If they believe that it should be considered further for honors, a committee of 4-5 Political Science faculty members (including your advisor and second reader) will be created by the Department Chair. This thesis committee will then review your thesis. If the thesis committee concludes that your thesis should be sent to the full Department for honors consideration, an oral defense of your thesis will be scheduled.
  5. Oral defense.  During the week following the end of classes, a date will be scheduled for your oral defense. All members of the Political Science Department will be invited to attend. The defense will take approximately one hour. At the conclusion of your defense, the members of the Department who are present will vote on awarding honors for your thesis. If a majority of the faculty members who are present (including your thesis advisor, second reader, and members of your thesis committee) vote to award honors, then you will receive honors for your thesis. If a majority of the faculty members who are present vote not to award honors, then honors will not be awarded, and you will receive a grade from your thesis advisor for your POSC 550 Independent Research project.