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Honors Program in Political Science

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Political Science Honors Program

The Honors Program is a program of advanced study in political science for undergraduates who wish to pursue a challenging course of study in their junior and senior year. Students get the opportunity to design and conduct their own research project under the supervision of a faculty adviser. Students gain in-depth knowledge and an understanding of key theoretical and empirical debates in the field of political science. Students acquire research design skills and the ability to work independently on a major research project. The honors thesis program also gives students the opportunity to work closely with faculty, similar to a graduate school experience.

Students completing this program will earn 'Honors in Political Science' at graduation. Students who are in the University Honors Program as well as in the Political Science Honors Program will earn 'College Honors in Political Science' at graduation.

Honors Program Requirements

  • Pol S 487, Political Science Honors Seminar (5 credits), spring quarter, minimum grade of 3.3.
  • Pol S 488, Honors Thesis Design Seminar (5 credits), autumn quarter, minimum grade of 3.3.
  • Pol S 489, Honors Thesis Writing (5 credits), winter quarter, minimum grade of 3.3.

Honors Seminars

The Honors program starts in spring quarter and ends the following winter quarter. Students accepted into the program take Pol S 487 in spring then Pol S 488 in autumn. Students earn 5 credits for each seminar (a total of 10 credits) and must earn a minimum grade of 3.3 in each course. Both seminars will count toward major requirements as a field or an elective course. 

Honors Thesis 

Students write an honors thesis in winter quarter (Pol S 489) under the supervision of a faculty member in Political Science or an approved faculty member from another program. Students must earn a minimum grade of 3.3 in the course in order to graduate with honors. While this course does not count toward the political science major, it will count as writing credit.  

Honors Program Eligibility Requirements

To be considered for admission to the Political Science Honors Program, students must meet the
following requirements:

  • major in Political Science
  • five courses in political science (may have four courses completed with the fifth in progress when applying to the program)
  • minimum 3.5 GPA in the Political Science major
  • minimum 3.3 overall GPA
  • completion of 90 credits minimum (i.e. junior standing) by the start of the program in Spring Quarter (sophomores may apply for their junior year)

Honors Program Application Information

Pol S Honors Application
Applications for the 2025-26 program will be available in late fall 2024.

Supporting Materials

The application includes supporting materials you can upload to the online form. The supporting materials are listed below for your reference.

1) Essay
Your essay should be double spaced and no more than two pages. Explain why you are applying to the Political Science Honors Program and what you hope to achieve by pursuing honors. Include the areas of research that interest you and how your past courses have contributed to those interests along with your preparedness to do independent research. If you have ideas for your thesis, you may include that information as well. At this point, you do not need to have a prepared thesis topic.

2) Resume
Attach your resume and include at least two and up to three instructors and/or TAs who can provide the selection committee with information about your coursework and contributions to class. This is a list of references only. They do not need to write letters of recommendation.

For assistance with writing or feedback about your resume, refer to the following resources:

3) Paper written for a class
Attach a copy of a paper that you wrote for a class (may include instructor comments and your grade, but this is not required). A paper written for a Political Science course is preferred but not required. Submit one paper only. Choose the paper that best demonstrates your research and writing skills. Do not submit answers to essay questions from an exam.

4) Unofficial UW Transcript
Access your unofficial transcript in your MyUW account and attach it as a pdf document in the email.

Some applicants may be contacted to schedule an interview with the Honors Committee. All applicants will be notified by email regarding their acceptance into the program by the end of winter quarter.

If you have any questions about the application, please contact the Pol S Advising Office at

Lev Award for Best Honors Thesis

Students participating in the honors program are eligible to compete for the Lev Award, which recognizes the best honors thesis written each year. It is named after Daniel Lev, a longtime political science professor at UW and founder of the department’s honors program. 

Submission deadline: Honors students wanting to compete for it must submit an electronic copy of their thesis to the honors program advisor no later than 4:00pm sharp on the first Friday of May. Late submissions will not be considered.