Columbia College and General Studies
The department offers an honors program for a limited number of seniors who are interested in doing substantial research projects and in writing honors theses. The honors thesis is expected to be approximately 60–75 pages in length and of exceptional quality. Honors students perform research as part of a full-year honors seminar (POLS C3998 - C3999 , 8 points total) during their senior year, in place of the seminar requirement for majors. Honors students may, however, take regular seminars as electives toward the major. Theses are due in late March. To be awarded departmental honors, the student must satisfy all the requirements for the major, maintain a 3.6 GPA in the major (the calculation of which includes non-POLS courses required for economics-political science or political science-statistics majors); and complete a thesis of sufficiently high quality to merit honors.
The honors seminar is under the overall direction of the honors seminar director, who is assisted by several preceptors. The honors seminar director supervises all students; each student also works with a faculty member in his or her major subfield (American politics, comparative politics, international relations, or political theory) and with a preceptor with an appropriate specialization. The honors seminar meets weekly for part of the year. These meetings cover general issues involved in research and thesis writing, such as how to develop research questions and projects; methodology; sources of evidence; and outlining and drafting long papers. The sessions are also used for group discussions of students’ research and student presentations of their theses. In addition, each student is expected to meet periodically with the professor and with the preceptor supervising the thesis.
Students who wish to apply to the honors program must notify the department in writing by Friday, April 26, 2013.
Applications must include
the student’s CUID number, e-mail address, and school (Columbia College or General Studies);
the name of a faculty member whom you have consulted who could be interested in supervising your thesis;
a writing sample, preferably a paper written for a political science course (no more than 20 pages);
a brief description (no more than one page) of a possible thesis topic. For guidelines for writing your proposal, please see here.
Honors thesis advisers should normally be full-time faculty in the Columbia Political Science Department. For students in the honors seminar, the instructor of the seminar approves or, when necessary, assigns advisers. At the discretion of the instructor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS), Barnard Political Science faculty, faculty in other departments, or adjunct professors might be approved as advisers or co-advisers. Normally faculty will advise only one honors thesis because of the substantial work this requires.
These items should be sent to:
Department of Political Science
Attn: Departmental Honors
420 West 118th Street
Mail Code 3320
New York, NY 10027
Students who are on campus should submit hard copies of these materials. Students studying abroad this semester may email their applications to email@example.com with the subject "2013-2014 Honors Seminar Application"
Students will be notified by email of the decision taken on their applications before fall registration (usually mid- to late-summer). Questions about the honors program should be directed to the undergraduate coordinator or the director of undergraduate studies.
Students who are not accepted into the Honors Seminar, or students who decide after the application deadline that they would like to write an honors thesis, may take one or two semesters of Special Reading and Research (Columbia College students) or Independent Study (General Studies students) with a faculty member in order to write a thesis to submit for honors consideration. For students who are preparing theses outside the honors seminar, the DUS and the instructor of the honors seminar should be informed of this intention, and the DUS must approve the proposed adviser. The department staff will coordinate submission deadlines and verify grade eligibility for these students.
For more details about this process and for registration information, please contact the undergraduate coordinator. Students may also submit a paper written for a class. All theses must be submitted along with a confidential assessment of the paper by the supervising instructor in order to be considered for departmental honors. Students who choose this path must also complete all the requirements for the major and maintain a minimum major GPA of 3.6. The thesis would be due in late March, and decisions about departmental honors are announced in May.