International Relations offers an honors program for International Relations, International Relations/Global Business, and International Relations/Global Economy majors. This program offers outstanding seniors an opportunity to pursue scholarly empirical research in international relations through a senior honors thesis, thereby sharpening research, critical thinking, and writing skills while gaining expertise in a particular area of interest. Students in the honors program gain the experience and skills necessary for graduate education, both at the Masters and Ph.D. levels.

The honors program is a full year commitment. IR majors are admitted into the program in the spring of their junior year. Admitted students enroll in IR 494 Senior Honors Research Seminar described below (Fall Semester) and IR 490 Directed Research with their substantive advisor (Spring Semester). Admission to the program is based on a competitive application process. Students must have a minimum departmental GPA of 3.5 and an overall college GPA of 3.3.

The application form can be obtained from the IR undergraduate advisors. Honors applicants must obtain the support of an IR faculty member to advise them throughout the year on their substantive topic. Successful completion of the honors program leads to a B.A. degree with Honors in International Relations.

For more information please contact the IR undergraduate advisors, the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Professor Gibson, or the course instructor for IR 494, Professor Hymans.

  • Course Description

    This course introduces students to the practice of social scientific research in International Relations. It demystifies the process of doing original research and guides students step by step toward a successful senior honors thesis experience. During the first half of the semester, students are introduced to the basics of research design (reviewing the literature, identifying a research puzzle, developing theoretical hypotheses, and selecting empirical testing strategies) and produce a 1-2 page memorandum outlining their own research puzzle. During the second half of the semester, students are introduced to a variety of empirical research methods (historical documentary research, in-depth interviews, statistical data analysis, and field experiments) and develop their original research for a final paper of 20-30 pages in length.

    If the student receives a grade of B+ or above in both the overall class grade and final paper for IR 494, during the spring semester the student will take an IR 490 directed reading course under the guidance of a pre-selected faculty advisor, in which the student’s research paper produced in IR 494 will be revised and expanded into a larger senior honors thesis of 60-100 pages in length.

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