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Honors in the Department of International Affairs is awarded on the basis of the senior thesis. Students meeting the College requirements – at least a 3.5 GPA in the major and at least a 3.5 GPA overall at the time of graduation – are invited to have their senior thesis be considered for honors.
This process commences with students who wish to be considered for honors emailing their thesis advisor to make the faculty aware of their candidacy by February 12, 2019 at noon.
After the thesis proposal has been approved, those students will provide a hard copy of their thesis proposal to Professor Lascurettes, Professor Mandel, or Professor Vinson, whomever is their second reader, or an electronic copy to Professor Bennett or Professor Smith-Cannoy if they are their second reader within one week. Department faculty will send feedback directly to the student via email and copied to the thesis instructor within a week of receiving the proposal. Honors candidates have until April 9th to make a final decision and inform their thesis advisor about whether they are going up for honors.
The role of the second reader for an IA thesis includes the following: offer feedback on the proposal via email or in an in-person meeting, evaluate the final thesis and vote on whether the thesis is honors-worthy. Please be aware that second readers are not co-thesis instructors—they will not read drafts of sections or drafts of the thesis and students should only seek out 2nd readers after they have attempted to clear up any confusion with their thesis instructor first.
The completed thesis must be submitted (in both electronic and hard copy format) for consideration by 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 2nd to the second reader. The hard copy should be delivered to the faculty mailboxes on the 3rd floor of John R. Howard Hall.
A thesis submitted for honors will follow a standard format for citations and will adhere to page length expectations (no more than 35 pages of text excluding full bibliographic endnotes). An honors-worthy thesis will pay careful attention to spelling and grammar and will be coherently organized. An honors thesis will embody excellence and be characterized by the following traits:
- First, the thesis will provide an explanation for a theoretically-derived research puzzle, or an explanation for an empirical issue in world politics that is relevant (has real-world consequences) or puzzling (its appearance or resolution was unexpected given other longstanding patterns).
- Second, the thesis will demonstrate a strong understanding of the international relations literature relevant to your particular research question, and that literature will inform and guide the explanation advanced.
- Third, the explanation provided will reflect a clear understanding of the phenomena under investigation and the explanation advanced will cogently delineate the logic of the causal argument advanced.
- Fourth, the data you select and the way in which you design your test will demonstrate a strong grasp of the appropriate methodology given your research question and the relevant literature.
- Fifth, the data presented will validate the argument advanced and persuade the reader that you have identified the most plausible answer to your research question and that other explanations are not applicable.
- Sixth, the thesis will recognize any significant conceptual, methodological, and empirical limitations.
- Seventh, the thesis will offer findings of value to those interested in the relevant theoretical literature or issue area. For example, the thesis will seek to draw some implications for understanding the larger class of behavior it investigates, including but not limited to a well developed discussion of the explanation’s external validity.
- Eighth, the thesis will demonstrate independent thinking and expand the reader’s understanding of the subject covered.
For more information about opportunities for current students and recent graduates, please see the “opportunities” page.