Political Science departmental honors and the designation of Paul Robeson Scholar are awarded to senior Political Science (790) majors who enroll in the Political Science courses, Honors Thesis 790:495/496, and successfully complete a Political Science honors thesis. In order to be eligible for departmental honors, a Political Science (790) major will have successfully completed at least 15 credits in Political Science courses with a grade point average 3.4 or better in these courses and have an overall grade point average of 3.0 or better at the beginning of the Fall semester of senior year. Information about the Paul Robeson Scholars program is available on the SAS Senior Honors Thesis website.
Students enrolled in Honors Thesis 790:495/496 are expected to conduct research and prepare an original piece of scholarship as their honors thesis. Individual students are responsible for recruiting an appropriate Political Science faculty member to supervise their research and read their thesis. The faculty thesis advisor will indicate specific requirements for the completion of the thesis. Also, the thesis advisor and one other member of the Political Science Department's faculty will conduct an oral examination at which the honors candidate will defend his or her findings. Both the faculty thesis advisor and the second faculty member must be from the faculty of the Rutgers-New Brunswick Political Science Department.
Upon completion of the thesis and oral examination, a letter grade and a level of honors will be awarded by the thesis advisor. All students receiving departmental honors are designated as Paul Robeson Scholars by the university.
Finally, Political Science (790) majors who are interested in doing an honors thesis that spans Political Science and another discipline or is entirely in another discipline can do so through the SAS Interdisciplinary Honors Thesis program. For more information regarding this program, go to the the SAS Senior Honors Thesis website.
NOTE: No more than six credits of independent study, internship or thesis work or any combination of these can be counted toward the eleven 3-credit Political Science courses required for the Political Science (790) major. Also, 790:495/496 cannot be substituted for the Political Science Seminar 790:395.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- Is there a required length for the thesis? Is there a primary research requirement? Are there any other requirements?
The length requirement is generally up to the individual faculty supervisor though the six-credit department honors theses usually run 50 to 70 pages. The department does not require primary research since such a requirement would not be appropriate in all subfields or for all topics. Your faculty supervisor will determine if your research interests are best served by primary research. You are also required to do an oral defense of your thesis in front of your faculty supervisor and a second faculty reader.
- What is the norm in terms of number of times I meet with faculty supervisor throughout the semester?
Once every two or three weeks, and/or as your research demands, would be satisfactory.
- What is the basis for grading for the fall semester and what are grading standards in general?
- No substantive grade is given for the Fall semester. A "TH" grade is submitted. This is not factored into your GPA. When the final paper is completed and a grade submitted in the Spring semester, your faculty advisor should indicate whether to assign the same grade for the Fall semester as well or submit a different grade. At the same time, your faculty supervisor and your second faculty reader will decide on the level of honors to be awarded. The levels are "NO HONORS", "HONORS", "HIGH HONORS", AND "HIGHEST HONORS".
- Is there any standard timeline or deadline for completion?
You should plan to have a final oral defense no later than the first week of April. The School of Arts & Sciences requires notification by mid-April in order for your name and honors designation to appear in the graduation program. Therefore, you would need to be finished with your written thesis a couple of weeks before that so that the committee (your faculty supervisor and your second faculty reader) would have a chance to read it before your oral defense. This would probably mean that you need to have a close to a completed draft for your faculty supervisor to review even earlier - roughly mid-February or early March.
Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society, was founded in 1920 at the University of Texas. Its members include both undergraduate and graduate students in chapters across the United States. Beta Omicron is the Rutgers University chapter. New members are inducted only in May of each academic year. Only juniors and seniors who have declared Political Science (790) as their major by the end of the Fall semester and meet the criteria listed below will be considered for induction. The criteria are as follows:
- at least six graded Political Science courses at Rutgers-New Brunswick
- 3.25 or better - overall GPA
- 3.5 or better - GPA in ALL Political Science courses attempted including cross-listed courses (e.g. 988:355 Women & Public Policy) and courses from other departments that can be used to satisfy requirements for the eleven Political Science courses for the major (e.g. 840:343 Religion and Politics). "ALL Political Science courses attempted" means, if you took twelve Political Science courses, all twelve will be used to compute your Political Science GPA regardless of whether or not they were used to complete the major.
- at least five graded Political Science courses at Rutgers-New Brunswick
- 3.5 or better - overall GPA
- 3.7 or better - GPA in ALL Political Science courses attempted including cross-listed courses (e.g. 988:355 Women & Public Policy) and courses from other departments that can be used to satisfy requirements for the eleven Political Science courses for the major (e.g. 840:343 Religion and Politics). "ALL Political Science courses attempted" means, if you took twelve Political Science courses, cross-listed courses, or courses from other departments that can be used to satisfy requirements, all twelve will be used to compute your Political Science GPA regardless of whether or not they were used to complete the major.
NOTE: The Political Science Department does allow for rounding up in calculating the GPA. For example, if the overall cumulative GPA was 3.49, it was rounded up to 3.5. There will be no rounding up of a second decimal less than nine. The department does not consider the third decimal place except in the case of the senior overall GPA where the required 3.25 GPA must allow for rounding up from 3.249.