Honors Program

The Department of Political Science offers an enrichment program to members of the Honors College who are majoring in Political Science. Honors College students who wish to graduate with Honors College notation must take at least eight honors courses. To graduate with Honors in Political Science, at least four of these courses must be in Political Science, and at least one of those courses must be PLS 481H or an approved equivalent. Honors courses include Honors sections, Honors options, and graduate seminars.

The Department offers Honors option opportunities in most courses. Honors options must be arranged by agreement with the faculty instructor in the course early in the semester, formalized by completing an Honors Option Agreement Form. If a student seeks to complete an Honors option in a course taught by an instructor who is a graduate student, approval of the PLS Honors advisor is required, by both university and department policy. In order to achieve an Honors option in any Political Science course, a grade of at least 3.0 in the course is required. For more information about earning an Honors Option, see http://honorscollege.msu.edu/honors-option.

Students may also enroll in graduate courses (at the 800 and 900-level) for honors credit, upon approval of the course instructor. The PLS Honors advisor can assist students in identifying appropriate graduate courses. In order to achieve Honors credit in a graduate course, a grade of at least 3.0 in the course is required.

To satisfy the Department’s Honors capstone project requirement, Honors students must complete a section of PLS 481H, “Undergraduate Research Seminar,” (offered every Fall and Spring) or an approved equivalent. The Department encourages students to enroll in this course during their junior or senior year. This course also satisfies the Tier II Writing requirement.

The Honors Thesis

The Department offers Honors students the opportunity to complete an Honors Thesis. The Honors Thesis is a substantial work of independent research or scholarship, to be supervised by a faculty member in the Department and evaluated by an Honors Thesis Committee. The Honors Thesis Committee will consist of the faculty supervisor plus at least one additional faculty reader, both of whom must be from the Department of Political Science. The Chair of the Honors Thesis Committee will be the faculty supervisor of the Honors Thesis. Graduate students from the Department may serve on an Honors Thesis Committee with the approval of the PLS Honors advisor. Faculty from outside the Department may serve on an Honors Thesis Committee as a third member with the approval of the PLS Honors advisor.

The Honors student intending to write an Honors Thesis will normally take the following two courses:

1. PLS 481H, “Undergraduate Research Seminar.” This seminar involves in-depth study of a specific topic in political science research. Students will be responsible for producing an original research project during the course. Topics will vary each semester, and students are encouraged to enroll in a section that most closely matches their interests.

2. PLS 491H, “Honors Thesis.” Students enrolling in this course will be expected to expand upon their projects completed in PLS 481H to produce a more substantial work of independent scholarship. Students may enroll for 3-6 credits of PLS 491H.

After completion of the Honors Thesis, the student is required to arrange, in consultation with the Chair of the Honors Thesis Committee, an oral presentation and defense of the Thesis. The Honors Thesis Committee will confer Honors as follows:

HONORS: Completion of a substantial work of independent research or scholarship that would earn at least a 3.0 on a final paper in one of the Department’s Tier II Writing courses.

HIGH HONORS: Completion of a substantial work of independent research or scholarship that would earn a 4.0 on a final paper in one of the Department’s Tier II Writing courses.

HIGHEST HONORS: Completion of a substantial work of independent research or scholarship that would, with modest revisions, be of a quality sufficient for presentation at a professional conference, or that would meet a comparable standard appropriate to the project.

Honors students are encouraged to present their research projects at the University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (usually in April).