Political Science majors who have demonstrated superior competence in the field have the opportunity to graduate with departmental honors. There are three grades of honors: cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude. Honors are awarded by the University Honors Council on the basis of overall academic record, performance in the writing of an honors thesis, and performance in an oral exam.

Candidates for honors in Political Science must have an overall cumulative grade point average of 3.3 and a 3.5 grade point average in Political Science courses. Students meeting these qualifications must contact the department’s Honors Council representative in the spring semester of their junior year. The Honors Council representative can help students identify a faculty advisor in the department who would be suited to supervise the honors thesis project. The Honors Program application must be completed and a short letter of recommendation from the advisor must be submitted prior to enrollment in the program. Students who are considering departmental honors are strongly encouraged, but not required, to complete their upper-division methods requirement prior to their senior year. These courses provide students with a valuable background in the systematic study of political science and help students prepare to conduct original research using social science research methods.

Students who pursue honors are required to complete the honors seminar PSCI 4715, which is taught during the fall semester by the Honors Council representative. This course is designed to aid candidates in appropriately defining their thesis topic, refining the research question, developing hypotheses, designing the study, and implementing the research. The class is highly collaborative (mutually supportive) and demands active participation. Students then take PSCI 4725 (formerly PSCI 4008) in the spring semester. During this semester, students revise, complete, and defend their theses.

Students planning to graduate in December are advised to take the fall honors seminar and the thesis writing seminar the year before graduation. It is not possible for students to start, finish, and defend their thesis in one semester.

Students must choose and work closely with a faculty honors thesis advisor. This professor must be someone other than the Honors Council representative teaching the honors seminars. Only faculty who are rostered in the political science department may serve as honors thesis advisors. Students should consult with the department’s Honors Council representative in the spring of the junior year to identify a suitable advisor. The advisor need not be someone from whom the student has taken a class but should be someone who works in the subfield or general area identified for the thesis topic.
Students also must pass an oral defense of their thesis before a three-member faculty committee consisting of their thesis advisor, a member of the Political Science committee on honors, and at least one other professor who is rostered outside of political science. The defense typically occurs in March or April of the senior year.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) funds undergraduate research, scholarly and creative work with several types of grants. Apply early!

The CU Honors Program office is located in Norlin Library. The program may be reached at 303-492-6617. This office will provide information about the application form and schedule of activities for the semester in which you plan to apply for honors. Check the Honors Program website for a list of deadlines for graduate with honors.

Contact the Director of the Political Science Honors Program, who is currently Dr. Janet Donavan with your GPA, your general topic area, and any faculty you have identified as a potential advisor. The program director will review this information and potentially offer additional suggestions for your advisor. Students should then set up meetings with PSCI faculty who have expertise in the identified thesis area and ask one of them if they would be willing to work with you on your thesis next year. Here are the faculty web pages: https://www.colorado.edu/polisci/faculty 

Email the following information to the Honors Program director, Dr. Janet Donavan:
1. GPA to date (both overall and PSCI)
2. Paragraph summarizing the project as you conceptualize it now
3. Name of advisor (PSCI faculty) who has agreed to work with you (Please be sure to cc your advisor on the email you send.)

The program director will contact your advisor for a recommendation. This information will serve as your application for PSCI honors. For students interested in completing an honors thesis in AY 2021-2022, the priority deadline for applications is April 15. You will be notified of your acceptance by April 30 and then be registered for PSCI 4715 for the Fall 2021 semester. After April 15, applications will be considered on a rolling basis and subject to availability of space in the program and advisor availability.

If you have more questions, email Dr. Ken Bickers (kenneth.bickers@colorado.edu) in the PSCI department.