The Department of Political Science Honors Program

OVERVIEW OF THE PROGRAM

The Departmental Honors Program is a yearlong process. It commences in the spring of a student’s Junior Year and culminates the following winter in the production of an honors thesis. Outstanding undergraduates majoring in political science are invited to apply in the winter of their Junior Year to participate in the program.  Each student admitted to the program will conduct original research on a question of their own choosing, under the guidance of a faculty mentor.  A successful thesis will be roughly 50 pages in length. In addition, it must be judged to do justice to its topic and meet the standards of the student’s faculty mentor.

Each completed thesis will be assigned a letter grade, the determination of which will be made by the mentoring professor, acting in conjunction with the Honors Program Director.  The level of honors to be awarded (“Honors,” “Highest Honors”) will be determined on the basis of 1) the strength of a student’s honors thesis and 2) that student’s overall academic performance in the major.  Level of honors will be noted on the student’s official transcript and diploma.  In the case that “No Honors” is awarded, there will be no such designation on the transcript or diploma.

GRADUATING WITH DEPARTMENTAL HONORS OR HIGHEST HONORS

To graduate with “Honors” in the major, a student must meet each of the following requirements:

  • A GPA in the major of at least 3.5
  • An overall UCLA GPA of at least 3.5
  • Completion of Political Science 191H with a letter grade of at least A-
  • Completion the Honors Thesis with a minimum letter grade of “B+”

 To graduate with “Highest Honors” in the major, a student must additionally: 

  • Graduate with a final GPA in the major of at least 3.85
  • Complete the Senior Honors Thesis with a letter grade of “A+”

ADMISSION INTO THE DEPARTMENTAL HONORS PROGRAM

An application for preliminary admission to the honors program is available here. Applications must be submitted in the winter of a student’s Junior Year.  The application submission deadline for the next honors cycle is Friday of 8th week, Winter Quarter (March 3, 2023).  Late submissions will not be accepted. Admission to the honors program is competitive (we aim for a target of 20-22 students each cohort-year) and all decisions are final. Successful applicants will receive a PTE number to enroll in 191H.  Final decisions regarding admission to the departmental honors program will be made at the conclusion of PS 191H.

Submission: Click HERE to submit your departmental honors application.

To complete the application process, students must submit the follow materials:

  1. A typed, one-page statement explaining why you wish to participate in the honors program and why you possess the qualifications necessary to complete a large research project.
  2. A typed, one-page description of your research topic and preliminary research question.
  3. A completed copy of the departmental honors application signed by the student’s faculty mentor. Please note: Your mentor must be a member of the Department of Political Science permanent ladder faculty or hold a joint/courtesy appointment with our department.  A list of eligible faculty is available on the Political Science website or at the Undergraduate Counseling Office in 4269 Bunche Hall.
  4. Most recent UCLA transcript (including winter course enrollments)

THE DEPARTMENTAL HONORS SEQUENCE

A. SPRING QUARTER. The yearlong honors sequence begins with PS191H, a four-unit course that eligible students will take in the spring of their Junior Year.  PS191H is a prerequisite for final entry into the honors program. No student will be admitted to the research and writing phase of the honors sequence without having first completed 191H with a grade of A- or better.

  • 191H culminates with each student designing their own research prospectus—i.e., a detailed plan of action for asking and answering an original research question of interest to political scientists.
  • During the quarter, 191H students will learn to craft effective literature reviews, develop productive research questions, propose preliminary hypotheses to answer these questions, select suitable research methods, and determine appropriate sources of information. In weeks 9 and 10, each student will give a well-organized, in-class oral presentation based on their research prospectus. Other weekly sessions will introduce students to topics, methods, and problems in social science research.

B. SUMMER. Immediately upon the completion of 191H, students will begin the research process.  In conjunction with their faculty mentor, students will develop a detailed plan of action covering the summer period.  This may include additional reading, data collection, or any other activity recommended by the faculty mentor to facilitate the start of empirical investigation. Students will submit a progress report both to their faculty mentor and to the program director by the start of the fall quarter.  (There is no summer-class enrollment requirement).

C. FALL AND WINTER QUARTERS. The Senior Year component of the honors program will consist of PS 198A (Fall Quarter) and PS 198B (Winter Quarter). PS 198A/B are contract courses to be taken with your faculty mentors.

  • In PS 198A, students will continue researching their thesis projects and, at some point in the quarter, begin the process of writing up their results.
  • In PS 198B, (Winter Quarter) students will complete their thesis under the supervision of their faculty mentor.
  • Honors students will also meet as a group with the Honors Program Director once or twice during the fall and winter quarters, to report progress, solve problems, and exchange ideas. These meetings are mandatory.

D. THE COMPLETED THESIS is due at the end of Winter Quarter. Students will submit printed copies of their thesis both to their faculty mentor and to the program director.

  • The Distinguished Undergraduate Scholar Award. This award will be given annually to one or more outstanding honors students judged to have produced the most scholarly contributions to the discipline of political science.