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 early in the summer after their junior year. The Honors Program application must be completed and a short letter of recommendation must be submitted prior to enrollment in the program. (Students who are considering departmental honors are strongly encouraged, but not required, to take “PSCI 3105: Designing Social Inquiry” in their sophomore or junior years. This course provides students a valuable background in the systematic study of political science, as it surveys the wide range of research designs and methods that one will use in writing a thesis.)

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 political science professor whom they have chosen as their thesis advisor. This professor must be someone other than the Honors Council representative teaching the honors seminars. Students who decide to pursue honors in Political Science are strongly advised to plan ahead by identifying a general topic and a departmental faculty member who is qualified, available and willing to supervise the thesis writing process.

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. The defense typically occurs in March or April.

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.

Set up some meetings with PSCI faculty who have expertise in an area you find interesting. Ask 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 Then, contact Dr. Janet Donavan, who will be the Director of the Political Science Honors Program for AY 2019-20, and submit the following materials in one email:

  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.)

This information will serve as your application for PSCI honors.

If you have more questions, email Dr. Janet Donavan in the PSCI department.