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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 Monday, March 6th, 2017. On Friday, March 17 students who wish to be considered for honors are asked to submit a short overview of their projects to Professors Bennett, Lascurettes, Mandel, and Smith-Cannoy for the purpose of getting feedback on the project. Honors thesis overviews should be no more than 4 double-spaced pages, excluding citations. On this date, students should also submit their final exam schedules for 5/3 and availability on 5/4 to the department administrative assistant, Katie Sholian, via email. The overview should be two- to four-pages (four page maximum not including full-citation end notes). This overview should include details about the student’s thesis including: the research question and its relevance, the dependent variable, the relevant theoretical literature as it relates to the theories being tested, the test and its method, and the project’s theoretical relevance including but not limited to its potential for external validity. The overview should be submitted both electronically and as a hard copy to all professors named above. An electronic copy should be sent to the student’s own thesis instructor, although this professor will not provide feedback on the overview. Department faculty will send feedback directly to the student via email and copied to the thesis instructor. Honors candidates have until April 3rd to make a final decision and inform their thesis advisor about whether they are going up for honors.
The completed thesis must be submitted (in both electronic and hard copy format) for consideration by 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 27th to Professors Bennett, Lascurettes, Mandel, and Smith-Cannoy. The hard copy should be delivered to the faculty mailboxes on the 3rd floor of John R. Howard Hall. The department will meet soon after to go over the theses. The department will meet with the candidates on Tuesday, May 2nd between 4:00-6:00 p.m. in Howard 254.
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.