Senior Thesis & Departmental Honors

Students with a 3.55 cumulative grade point average are strongly encouraged to consider writing a senior thesis, which makes them eligible for departmental honors at graduation.  Students also have the option of writing a senior thesis without pursuing departmental honors.

The two-semester thesis writing course takes the place of one  Writing Seminar and is an excellent opportunity to perform independent research. At the end of the academic year, the department presents awards for the outstanding thesis in each field.

Recommendations for getting started...

a) Think about your area of interest and start developing  a research question. Begin planning your thesis during the fall semester of your junior year.

b) Take a methodology course such as Research Design or Quantitative Political Analysis during your junior year to understand the research process and plan your work. Students who will be abroad should begin planning their thesis  before they leave.

c) Talk to several faculty members with whom you might want to work. Present your ideas and ask if they would consider serving as your thesis director or if they can recommend someone.

To register for the thesis:

You cannot register until you have a thesis director.

1.Fill out a Senior Thesis Contract (available in the Department).  In it, you will summarize your proposal and specify the arrangements for the nature and amount of work you will do,  how often you will meet with your reader, and your grade criteria.

2. Return the signed Contract to one of the advisors in the department no later than the last day to add classes.

3. Upon receipt of the Contract, permission to register into POLS 58901/58902 will be entered, allowing you to register into the corresponding thesis section.

If you plan to conduct research during the summer before your senior year or during your senior year, apply for a Strake Grant. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.


Awards are given for the best senior thesis in each of the four fields in Political Science.

Thesis Due Dates

If you would like your thesis to be considered for an award, the due date normally falls on April 1.

The final due date is always the last day of classes of the spring semester.

Departmental Honors

To graduate with departmental honors a student must write a thesis and take a cluster of four recommended enrichment courses in consultation with their advisor, including:

1. a methodology course such as Research Design, Quantitative Methods, or How to Do Political Research,

2. Principles of Microeconomics,

3. Principles of Macroeconomics,

4. an upper level course related to the student's senior thesis, such as a graduate course in Political Science, language proficiency beyond the A&L language requirement, or another course in the department or in another department chosen in conjunction with the student's advisor,

5. complete the senior thesis with a grade of B+ or higher,

6. graduate with a cumulative grade point average of 3.55 or higher.