The Department of Political Science has established the Political Science Scholar Program to recognize the achievements and potential of a small number of our best students (approximately 20 per year). The program provides each scholar with opportunities to enhance his or her undergraduate education including:
- Assignment to a faculty mentor who will provide expert advice on courses and the discipline of political science. In addition, mentors can provide advice to matching coursework with long-term goals, opportunities for post-graduate studies in political science and law, and possible job opportunities available to talented undergraduate students. This advice will be over and above that offered by the Department’s regular advisor and (if applicable) the Honors advisor.
- Opportunities to compete for paid positions to develop undergraduate research projects with faculty members with a view to presenting the research at the University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF) at Michigan State.
- Access by competitive application to funding support for enhancement activities, including especially research support, travel to professional conferences, and other research-related purposes.
- Opportunities to serve as paid Undergraduate Learning Assistants (ULA) in political science classes.
- Opportunities to meet in small group settings with distinguished alums of the department and university and to participate in activities sponsored by the Governor Jim Blanchard Public Service Forum.
- Invitation (and expectation) to participate in a Day at the Capital program, organized in collaboration with alumni supporters. This will be an opportunity to meet legislators, lobbyists, and policy professionals in the State Capital for career and professional advice.
- Eligibility to compete for attractive internships, in Lansing, Detroit, and Washington, D.C., identified by internship coordinators and alumni supporters.
- Access in informal settings to visiting scholars who come to MSU by invitation of the Department and by invitation of the Symposium on Science, Reason, & Modern Democracy, the Workshop on Conflict, and other institutions in the Department.
- Guaranteed admission to honors sections and study abroad programs offered by the Department, including PLS 481H, “Undergraduate Research Seminar.”
We encourage students currently in their sophomore year to apply, although students at other stages will also be considered. Students who are interested in becoming a Political Science Scholar should submit the following materials to Cory Smidt by April 1:
- PLS Scholars Application
- An essay
- A current resume
- PLS Scholars Faculty Nomination Form
- PLS ULA Application Form
- PLS Research Assistant Application Form
Funding Support for Political Science Scholars
PLS Scholars are eligible to compete for paid research assistantships with PLS faculty members. These typically span one semester. Interested students and faculty members should complete an application form and attach a research abstract (to be prepared by the faculty sponsor), statement (to be prepared by the student researcher), and PLS faculty nomination form. Applications are due March 1 for summer, May 1 for fall semester, and November 1 for spring semester research.
Undergraduate Learning Assistants (ULAs)
PLS scholars are eligible to compete for paid positions as Undergraduate Learning Assistants (ULAs) in Political Science courses. Students interested in being considered for positions should complete an application form and statement and ask a PLS faculty member to submit a nomination form on their behalf. Applications are accepted November 1 or May 1. Admitted students will be placed on a list of potential ULAs and will be contacted as positions become available.
Other Research-Related Funding
The Department of Political Science considers requests for other funding related to research activities, such as travel to academic conferences and costs associated with printing posters. Interested PLS Scholars should submit a statement detailing the nature of their requests, their qualifications for selection, and a proposed budget. Students should also ask a PLS faculty member to submit a nomination form on their behalf. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
All Applications should be submitted in hard copy or email to PLS Department of Undergraduate Studies Director Cory Smidt.