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Departmental Honors

Departmental Honors in Political Science is a flexible program of study culminating in enrollment in POL 496/Honors Thesis in Political Science and the completion of an honors thesis during the senior year. The purpose is to challenge the highly motivated Political Science major, enrich the student’s major program, and recognize extraordinary academic achievement.


Departmental Honors is open to Political Science majors who have:

  1. Completed 20 credit hours (5 units) in coursework in Political Science, including no less than 12 hours (3 units) at The College;
  2. Maintained an overall GPA of at least 3.5 at The College;
  3. Maintained a GPA of at least 3.5 in Political Science courses at The College;
  4. Successfully completed POL 390/Junior Tutorial.

Final selection requires the approval of a Honors Thesis Advisor and the Political Science faculty. The number of students accepted is limited; the Department will select a small number of students each year based on the thesis application, past coursework, and perceived likelihood of the student successfully completing the thesis. A strong performance in the Junior Tutorial will factor into the evaluation of the department’s honors theses applications.

Application Process

All junior political science majors will be notified about the option to pursue Department Honors in Political Science during their POL 390/Junior Tutorial course and/or by email from the Chair. Applications from eligible students are due by August 1st for projects beginning in the fall semester and January 1st if beginning in the spring semester. Applications must describe the proposed thesis topic and research design and include a preliminary bibliography and project timeline. The application should also describe which path the student plans on following to fulfill the Honors requirements (see “Program Options” below). The application must identify an Honors Thesis Advisor and two Department faculty members to serve as readers. These three faculty members form the student’s Honors Thesis Committee. It is expected that the student will work with their proposed Honors Thesis Advisor to prepare the application.

Review and Retention

Students must complete POL 496/Honors Thesis in Political Science with a grade of “B” or better and must complete POL 498 or POL 398 with a grade of “B” or better. Students must also maintain at least a 3.5 average in their Political Science courses and overall coursework at the College to earn Departmental Honors in Political Science. Final determination of Department Honors, if the above criteria are met, will be made by majority vote of the students’ Honors Thesis Committee.

Program Options

Students may choose among three possible paths to complete Department Honors:

  1. The student may enroll in POL 496 after POL 498/Senior Seminar, with the intent of significantly expanding upon the seminar paper. This is the preferred model.
  2. The student may complete POL 398/Independent Study in Political Science in the Fall Semester and POL 496 in the Spring Semester.
  3. POL 496 may be taken concurrently with POL 498/Senior Seminar, in which case the thesis shall be significantly longer and more rigorous than the standard seminar paper.

Option 1 is regarded as the norm; Options 2 and 3 are available to provide flexibility for students seeking to complete Department Honors. Students should clearly state which option they are using in their honors thesis application. If Option 1 is not chosen, the student should clearly describe in her/his application why the chosen option is preferred over Option 1.


Upon completion of the program, written certification will be presented to the student and communicated to the Registrar for inclusion on the student’s transcript.