Two tracks to graduating with distinction in public policy: the honors seminar and the independent study route.
Option 1: Honors Seminar
The most common route to graduating with distinction in public policy is to take the honors seminar, which runs from junior spring through senior fall.
Option 2: Independent Study Senior Year
Less commonly, students can graduate with distinction by taking two independent study courses their senior year. This option is primarily designed for students who are abroad spring of their junior year.
Details on both options
Students complete a two-semester sequence to complete an honors thesis.
The two-course sequence runs from spring semester of junior year through fall semester of senior year.
The first semester course (PUBPOL 495S) is a research methodology course which will introduce the student to research principles. By the end of the spring semester, the student will have successfully completed a thesis proposal.
Pending successful completion of PUBPOL 495 (as designated by at least at B+ in the class), the student will then enroll in PUBPOL 496S in the fall semester. During that semester, the student will complete their thesis, based on the proposal finished in the spring.
Applications for the honors seminar are due in fall semester of the junior year.
Students complete two independent studies during their senior year to complete an honors thesis.
Students who are unable to complete the honors seminar route can take two independent studies during their senior year to complete the honors seminar.
Students who complete the independent study route must identify a knowledgeable faculty advisor who will oversee both semesters of the project. Faculty members in public policy are preferred.
During the first semester, the student will complete a proposal. At the conclusion of that semester, the student will turn the proposal into the honors directory, who, in consultation with the advisor, will provide feedback as to whether the proposal is likely to result in a successful honors thesis. The student then takes another independent study during their second semester of their senior year to complete their thesis.
The qualifications for, and the standards by which honors thesis are judged, are the same regardless of the route pursued.