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Undergraduate Research


The Political Science Department offers a variety of opportunities for undergraduate students to engage in research activities. Students have the ability to work with faculty and advanced graduate students on their research activities or conduct independent research.

Contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies or the Undergraduate Program Coordinator to decide which course option best matches your research goals.

Please note: none of the courses listed on this page will satisfy the RSCH requirement for the major(s). Please visit your major page for a current list of approved RSCH courses.

CLSS Fellowship – POLS 387: Directed Research (CLSS)

Each year the Center for Law and Social Science hosts a small number of undergraduate fellows who are active participants in Emory’s vital research environment. Fellows are given the opportunity to participate in a faculty or Ph.D. student research project. The privileges of being a fellow include: 

  • The opportunity to participate in ongoing faculty research as a research assistant
  • Independent study course credit
  • Participation in the Center's seminars and conferences
  • The opportunity to meet with leading scholars from around the globe and talk to them about their research and careers

The fellowship requires 6 credit hours of POLS 387: Directed Research (3 credits in the Fall and 3 credits in the Spring). It may be repeated up to four times, for a total of 12 credit hours over four semesters, but only one 3 credit hour POLS 387 course (or one POLS 399R: Directed Research) may be used as an elective towards the Political Science major or minor, or towards the International Studies major. POLS 387 does not fulfill the RSCH requirement.

The Center's research fellows are a small group of motivated students with a strong interest in collaborating with faculty and Ph.D. candidates on law and social science research. Students are matched with affiliated and visiting scholars who are drawn from all social science fields, but also include scholars working in truly interdisciplinary fields. Thus, students are exposed to a wide range of scholarly fields and approaches. 

Accepting a fellowship is a commitment to participate in all of these activities for the duration of a school year. Participation will entail approximately 8-10 hours per week.

Questions about the fellowship should be directed to Prof. Jonathan Nash at jnash4@emory.edu.

Admission to the CLSS Fellowship program is selective. Students must have completed POLS 208 (or an equivalent) and have a cumulative and major GPA of at least 3.5, unless waived by the director. 

Applications open in the Spring semester for participation in the following academic year. Application materials should be emailed (in PDF format) to Amanda Hutson (amanda.hutson@emory.edu) by no later than Monday, April 13th, 2020 and should include:

  • An unofficial transcript
  • A personal statement (maximum 2 single-spaced pages) describing the applicant’s research interests and career goals
  • A faculty reference (Note: applicants do not need a letter of recommendation – just a faculty who can serve as a reference). 

Accepted students will be notified of their admission to the program and enrolled in POLS 387 before the close of add/drop.

POLS 399: Directed Research in Political Science

Students enrolled in this course are paired with a member of the Emory faculty, or an advanced graduate student, to conduct independent research under his or her supervision. Typically, the student will carry out research tasks related to faculty projects. This course offers a unique opportunity to learn about the research process, meet with leading scholars from around the globe, and talk to them about their research careers. Students are also encouraged to attend research presentations hosted by the Department of Political Science.

This course offers 3 credit hours of independent research study credit. It may be repeated up to four times, for a total of 12 credit hours over four semesters, but only one 3 credit hour POLS 399 course (or one POLS 387R: Directed Research CLSS) may be used as an elective toward a Political Science major or minor, or toward the International Studies major. POLS 399 does not fulfill the RSCH requirement.

Students should expect to offer 8-10 hours of independent research assistance per week. Faculty and student pairs are encouraged to discuss and develop clear research expectations. 

Students will be assessed on:

  • The faculty mentor’s evaluation of the student’s performance,
  • A summary of the student’s research activities, and
  • The student’s self-evaluation

Participation in POLS 399 is by permission only. Students must complete the following before the conclusion of the Emory College add/drop period for the semester:

  1. Identify a faculty member or advanced graduate student to work with. Students are responsible for approaching the faculty mentor and submitting all enrollment requests.
  2. The student and faculty mentor must complete the POLS 399 Enrollment Request Form and submit it to the Course Director (name and email located on the Course Atlas) before add/drop closes.

Once the student receives permission from the Course Director, the Undergraduate Program Coordinator will enroll the student.

POLS 497: Directed Study

This permission-only course is available for independent reading and research under the direction of a faculty member. Variable credit is available (1-12 credits) based on the number of hours of instruction/interaction per week.

Students may receive elective credit for Political Science or International Studies majors for one semester of POLS 497, but only if the course is 3 credit hours or more. Enrollment in 1-2 credit hours of POLS 497 can only be applied as credits toward graduation. POLS 497 does not fulfill the RSCH requirement.

Students are responsible for approaching faculty about directed study requests. Students will work with their faculty mentor to create a topic and evaluation criteria. Once permission is confirmed, students will be enrolled in POLS 497 during the add/drop period.

POLS 499: Honors Research

Visit the Honors Program page for information on eligibility and application requirements for the Political Science Department Honors Program.