Pi Sigma Alpha is the national political science honor society, and we have a chapter here at Connecticut College. Admission into the society requires a high GPA in political science courses that count toward the GOV or IRL major. The GPA requirement is 3.70.

The Thesis

A government or international relations thesis is a sustained, scholarly investigation of a problem, puzzle, or other important question. In many instances there is original research and often there is a contribution to the literature. Generally a thesis has 20,000 to 30,000 words of text. At 250 words per page, these figures translate into a typical length of 80-120 pages.

A thesis differs from normal course work in a number of respects. The most obvious difference is in the sheer magnitude of the undertaking. In addition to being a large number of pages, a thesis represents a significant time commitment. Whatever your thesis topic, it has to be something about which you care enough to devote a year of your life.

Download the informational Honors Study in Government brochure and Honors Study application. Also, look at titles of past theses and independent studies in the Government/IR section of the College's digital repository of intellectual work, http://digitalcommons.conncoll.edu/govhp/.

Independent Study

The typical form for an Independent Study - associated with undergraduate research - is a one-semester research project on a special topic. The other form of independent study, not associated with undergraduate research, amounts to an individualized course with a specialized reading list on a topic not covered by a regularly offered course.

Independent study courses are numbered 291, 292; 391, 392, and 491, 492.

Students considering an independent study must begin consultation with a member of the department the semester prior to taking the course so that they may begin work promptly at the beginning of the next term.

Independent studies supervised by government faculty count for both GOV and IRL majors, if the studies are in the appropriate fields of government. Independent studies supervised by faculty from other departments may count toward one of the non-government courses that are part of the IRL major; consult with your major adviser on this issue.

An independent study associated with undergraduate research resembles on Honors Thesis, insofar as they too typically involve original analysis and/or research. They provide students with the opportunity to explore a topic systematically, to establish their own reading list, and to work over a semester with guidance from the supervisor. Most resulting papers are 25-40 pages in length. Your supervisor can also write you a letter of recommendation in which he or she elaborates on your work and accomplishments. However, independent studies are unaccompanied by the stresses associated with preparing approximately 100 pages of written work that meet honors standards.

Students seeking to do a one-semester research project should consult with the member of the department who may supervise the individual study, and meet the following requirements:

(1) Prepare a formal proposal describing the subject of the project, the research materials and methods to be used, and your preparation/ background to do the research. For ideas that may help you prepare your proposal, you may wish to read selections from the Government Department Honors Thesis Brochure located under Courses/Course Brochure.

(2) Check the Honors Thesis Brochure or the Government Department Course Brochure for dates to submit the formal proposal to the faculty member with whom you would like to study. Future proposals are due two weeks before the spring semester's last day of class.

(3) The formal proposal must be approved and signed by the member of the department who will supervise the work. No proposal can be considered without the approval of the supervisor.

Future independent study proposals are due two weeks before the last class of the semester before the work would be done.