department of political science
Note: The University will be converting from a course-based system to a credit-based system, beginning with the Class of 2014. Therefore, for students in the Class of 2014 and beyond, special information on course requirements is included in (parentheses).
The department of Political Science has established its own Honors program to encourage and reward high academic achievement among its majors. Admission to the program is by invitation from the department. Each year 15-20 Political Science majors who have completed their Sophomore year are invited to join the Honors program. Selection is based on their academic records within the major and overall. The Honors program seeks to provide additional opportunities for intellectual exchange and friendship, among students as well as with the faculty. The department hopes that the spirit of the Honors program will in turn extend to all our classes and our students.
The department offers special Honors Seminars on a variety of topics to members of the program. These are topics not ordinarily available in our course offerings, and they frequently focus on the special interests of faculty in important policy questions or intellectual puzzles. Members of the Honors program must take at least two Honors Seminars during their Junior and Senior years, in addition to the ten courses (30 credits) otherwise required for the major. Students seeking to complete the Honors program and graduate with Honors must, therefore, take at least twelve Political Science courses (36 credits) in all.
The department also makes a special effort to include members of the Honors program in unusual opportunities not customarily available, such as dinners with visiting scholars, internship placements, funding to attend national conferences, and access to advanced electives.
One Honors seminar is given each semester. The seminars are scheduled a year in advance so that students can plan their programs (especially important for Honors students who will be studying abroad for one or two semesters). These seminars are considered electives in the major; therefore they do not exempt the student from the requirement of taking one course (three credits) in each of four sub-fields in Political Science. The intention of these seminars is to provide a setting in which students who have shown their lively and nimble engagement with politics can come together with others who share their enthusiasm for the enjoyment and rewards of shared scholarly exploration.
As a culmination of the Honors program, members are strongly encouraged to write an Honors Thesis during their Senior year, and in recent years almost all Seniors in the Honors program have done so. An Honors Thesis is generally a two-semester project for which students earn credit for two elective courses (six credits) in the major. The Honors Thesis I and II are done in addition to the ten courses (30 credits) required for the major and in addition to the two required Honors Seminar courses. Although the challenges of a Senior thesis can seem daunting at the outset, the rewards upon completion are satisfying and enduring.
Honors Designations and Distinctions
Students participating in the Honors program are eligible for one of three Honors designations when they graduate: Honors, High Honors, and Highest Honors in Political Science. All members of the program who complete at least twelve courses (36 credits) in Political Science, including two Honors Seminars, are eligible to graduate with Honors, if they have sustained a record of academic excellence in the major. Members of the program who have achieved particular distinction within the major are eligible to graduate with High or Highest Honors. In awarding High or Highest Honors, the department takes into consideration such additional signs of academic merit as the completion of an Honors Thesis.
In addition, each year at the University's Awards Ceremony, the department presents its Donald S. Carlisle Award to the graduating Senior in the Honors program who has attained the highest distinction.
The department celebrates the success of its graduating Honors students with a special Honors dinner and program each Spring, featuring a guest speaker who is prominent in public service.
For further information on the Political Science Honors Program, contact Professor Timothy Crawford.