Department Honors

The department offers an honors program for a small number of seniors who are interested in writing an honors thesis. The honors thesis is expected to be approximately 60–75 pages in length and of exceptional quality. Honors students conduct research as part of a full-year Honors Seminar (POLS UN3998-UN3999, 8 points total) during their senior year, in place of the subfield seminars for undergraduates. (Honors students may also take subfield 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.

A member of the faculty directs and teaches the Honors Seminar. A graduate teaching assistant supports the faculty instructor and provides advises students in developing research design and carrying out research for the thesis. Each student is further supported by a faculty member who serves as sponsor of the thesis.

The Honors Seminar meets weekly for part of the year. These meetings address 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. Seminar meetings are also used for group discussions of students’ research and student presentations of their theses. In addition to participating in seminar meetings, each student is expected to meet periodically with the seminar instructor and with the teaching assistant supervising the thesis.

Application procedure

To apply for the seminar, please complete this application by 11:59 PM on March 30, 2018.

Please note that the application requires the submission of a writing sample.

Students are encouraged (though not required) to identify an honors thesis adviser at the time of application to the program. Honors thesis advisers should normally be full-time professors in the Department of Political Science. At the discretion of the Honors Seminar instructor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Barnard Political Science faculty, faculty in other departments, or adjunct professors may be approved as advisers or co-advisers. Normally, faculty will advise only one honors thesis per year because of the substantial investment of time and instruction required. The instructor of the Honors Seminar approves all adviser assignments and will assign advisers for students unable to identify an adviser independently.

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 Program Coordinator or the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Independent honors thesis option

Students who are not accepted into the Honors Seminar and students who for any reason do not apply to the Honors Seminar but would like to qualify for departmental honors may take one or two semesters of Independent Reading and Research (POLS UN3901x and POLS UN3902y) with a faculty member willing to supervise a thesis to be submitted for honors consideration.

Students writing theses outside the Honors Seminar should inform the Director of Undergraduate Studies and the instructor of the Honors Seminar of their intention to submit a thesis for honors consideration. The DUS must approve the proposed adviser.

Students may also submit a paper written for a class.

Students who choose this path must also complete all the requirements for the major and maintain a minimum major GPA of 3.6.

To be considered for departmental honors, all theses must be submitted along with a confidential assessment of the paper by the supervising instructor by 11:59 p.m. on April 1, 2018.

PLEASE NOTE: The department can recommend only ten percent of its graduating seniors for honors, with priority given to students enrolled in the Honors Seminar. Students not enrolled in the Honors Seminar who apply for honors will have a reduced chance of receiving honors.

For more details about this process and for registration information, please contact the Undergraduate Program Coordinator.