The Political Science Department encourages students with major project interests and who meet the GPA requirements to consult with faculty members and upon that advice possibly apply to the Honors Coordinator to enter the senior Honors Program. This includes students who are majors and, in exceptional cases, students who are majoring in other programs but for whom a thesis supervised by a Political Science faculty member might be appropriate. Ideally, consultation with one or more faculty members should take place in the students’ fifth semester during the fall of the junior year.

All juniors, including those who are studying away in the spring term, must indicate their interest in pursuing a senior Honors project by filing an “Intent to Pursue an Honors Project” with the Honors Coordinator. This form should be submitted no later than March 31st of Junior year (
see form
). The department will meet in April to match up prospective Honors thesis writers with an appropriate faculty supervisor. Thus, it is important that you list more than one possible faculty supervisor, in case your first-choice supervisor is not available or has too many projects to reasonably supervise.

We highly recommend that students studying away during spring of the junior year complete the “Intent to Pursue an Honors Project” before leaving for study away.

We also recommend that students do advanced planning for entering the Honors Program in the form of earlier independent studies or research projects, research designs, reviews of the literature in advanced courses, or data gathering during study away where appropriate and possible. Macalester College defines an Honors Project as a year-long independent research project. Thus, students should expect to do considerable work on their project during the summer months between the junior and senior year. This includes, but is not limited to reading broadly on the topic, improving methodological skills, staying in contact with one or more faculty members, preparing a final draft of the research proposal, and receiving directions and encouragement from the Honors Coordinator.

The Department encourages qualified students to consider this unique research opportunity, noting that rigorous academic preparation is required and that successful projects demand a substantial intellectual and time commitment. The Honors Program is open to all qualified students, though it is particularly well suited for students who intend to go to graduate school.

The Honors Program provides an experience quite distinct from the normal capstone, Senior Research Seminar. While students in the Research Seminar are expected to complete a piece of disciplined scholarly work, an Honors Project is held to higher standards of scholarly quality and represents a much more substantial effort and final product.

Patrick Schmidt will be the Honors Coordinator for AY 2017-2018.

Honors Projects

Some of our students’ honors projects are available to read on Digital Commons.

  • Luke Allen ’14 (Iowa City, IA), “Constituting the Entrepreneurial Poor: Social Capital, Development, and the Contemporary Microfinance Industry”
  • Mary Kennedy ’14 (Stilwell, KS), “Like Building a Human Being: The Construction of Democracy in Contemporary Russia”
  • Samuel Stuewe ’14 (Salina, KS), “On the Nature of Political Interaction as Conversation”
  • Selja Vassnes ’14 (Tromso, Norway), “Biting the Bullet: Assessing the Genuine Advancement of Human Security in the UN Arms Trade Treaty”
  • Jacob Waxman ’14 (Westo, MA), No More 9/11s: The Desire to Mitigate Political Risk and the Creation of an American Garrison State”
  • Kai Wilson’14 (West Hartford, CT), “Touchline Democracy: How Soccer’s Civil Society Shaped Democratization in Egypt and Turkey”