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Honors Program

General Information 

The Honors Program in the Department of Political Science provides the opportunity for especially qualified Political Science and International Studies majors to engage in research and course work more advanced than the normal undergraduate program.

Plan Ahead

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Students interested in participating in the POLS Honors Program should plan accordingly. Students applying to the Honors Program should take the following:

Eligibility Requirements

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Minimum Requirements

Students who meet the minimum requirements for consideration will receive an invitation in spring  of their junior year to submit application materials

  • An overall GPA of at least 3.7*
  • Major GPA of at least 3.7*
  • Graduation date of the following spring

*Students with a major or overall GPA between 3.45 and 3.7 may petition to participate in the program. 

Program Requirements

  • Passing with a grade of "B" or better Political Science 495, Honors Tutorial
  • Passing with a grade of "B" or better a Political Science graduate (or advanced undergraduate) seminar of the student's choice<
  • Researching and writing an Honors Thesis (Political Science 499)
  • Successful completion of an oral examination on the student's Honors Thesis

Application Materials

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The faculty of the Political Science Department will review these materials and select the participants for the Honors Program. Only students who submit materials will be considered.

In addition to these materials, the faculty will also take into consideration the applicants':

  • Overall GPA
  • Major GPA
  • Political Science Course Work (especially upper-level POLS courses taken at Emory or at Oxford prior to the Spring semester of the students' junior year)

Statement of Research Interest (1-2 pages)

In your statement, please indicate a possible topic or research question for your honors thesis. The statement should explain why you are interested in doing research on the topic and what courses you have taken that relate to your research topic. Please be as specific as possible in describing your research question or interests and plans.

Political Science Faculty Members

A list of 2-3 Political Science faculty members (main campus or Oxford) who may be asked to provide references (DO NOT solicit references). Please list the faculty in rank order, where #1 has the most knowledge of your academic work and #2 and/or #3 have at least some knowledge of your academic work.

Faculty Advisor and Mentor

A list of at least 1 (but no more than 3) Political Science faculty members you would like to work with as your primary honors thesis advisor and mentor.

Academic Writing Sample

A sample of your academic writing from a political science or related course (20 pages max). If possible, please submit a paper that indicates your ability to write an in-depth research paper.


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The following schedule assumes a May graduation.

Fall Semester

  1. Students will take Political Science 495 (4 semester hours).
  2. Students must write an acceptable research proposal covering the Honors Thesis topic. This research proposal must be submitted to the Honors Committee no later than the end of the semester.
  3. Each student must set up a thesis committee consisting of a primary advisor in the Department of Political Science, a second reader drawn from the faculty of the Emory or Oxford College Department of Political Science, and a third reader who is an Emory or Oxford College faculty member. The third reader is permitted to be from outside the Department of Political Science.
  4. A student may elect to take a Political Science graduate (or advanced undergraduate) seminar in the Fall or Spring Semester, although enrollment in the Fall semester is suggested.

Spring Semester

  1. Students will enroll in Political Science 499 Honors Research (variable credit, up to eight hours).
  2. Students must take a Political Science graduate (or advanced undergraduate) seminar if they have not taken one during the Fall Semester.
  3. Final draft of the thesis must be submitted to the student's thesis committee in early April.
  4. The thesis must be defended orally before the thesis committee and submitted to the College Honors Committee by the deadline established by that Committee.

College Honors Program

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Honors Programs for outstanding students are offered during the senior year in most areas of concentration. These involve work that extends beyond ordinary course requirements and standards of performance. These programs are administered by the College Honors Committee, which must approve each departmental program. For more information on College policies, click here.


All students with an overall average of at least 3.7 in the first three years and with at least a 3.7 average in the major subject will automatically be eligible for participation in the program. Final selection of those to participate, however, rests with the department concerned.


The program will normally be confined to the senior year. The program outlined below applies to those departments offering graduate degrees, with the exception of Liberal Studies in which arrangements can be made for fulfilling requirements by using the facilities of relevant departments. Departments not offering graduate work may devise their own programs, subject to approval of the Honors Committee. The same applies to multi-disciplinary or joint-major programs.

  • Each honors student will be enrolled in a graduate seminar or a graduate course or, in special cases approved by the Honors Committee, in a course providing individual supervision and instruction.
  • Each honors student will, as part of the graduate work, complete a research project or a paper that will be the equivalent of a B.A. thesis. 
  • Each honors student will do additional supervised reading or enroll in a special honors course or perform some additional special work.


An examination, written and/or oral, covering the honors work (thesis and allied field) will be given during the last semester of the student's senior year. One examiner will be chosen from outside the department concerned.

The names of the examiners will be reported to the Honors Committee along with the results of the examination.

The deadlines for reporting results are printed in the College catalog. Examiners will recommend the degree of honors (honors, high honors, highest honors) to the Honors Committee, which will certify the list to the Registrar for printing in the Commencement program and on the students' diplomas.

Degrees of Honors

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Honors (cum laude) is taken to mean satisfactory completion of the program, together with an overall average of 3.7.

High Honors (magna cum laude) is taken to mean completion of the program with outstanding performance, together with an overall average of 3.7. The thesis shall be of a quality sufficient for oral presentation to scholars in the candidate's field, or of a comparable standard appropriate to the discipline.

Highest Honors (summa cum laude) is taken to mean completion of the program with exceptional performance, together with an overall average of 3.7. The thesis shall be of a quality sufficient for submission for publication or of a comparable standard appropriate to the discipline. If the thesis meets this criterion, the 3.7 grade point average may be waived in exceptional cases.


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If you have any questions about the Political Science Honors Program, please feel free to contact the Honors Coordinator or the Undergraduate Program Coordinator.
Alexander Bolton Headshot

Honors Coordinator

Alexander Bolton
Associate Professor, Director of Experiential Learning & Honors Program Director
317 Tarbutton Hall
Rob La Terza
Undergraduate Program Coordinator
327 Tarbutton Hall