Senior Honors Thesis

A Senior Year Experience (SYE) Honors Thesis is the highest level of scholarship to which a major in the Government Department can aspire, and we strongly encourage those who qualify to consider undertaking one.  In order to participate in the senior honors thesis program, juniors must have a GPA of at least 3.5 in the Government major and at least 3.25 in the GOVT 290 course.  Students interested in undertaking an honors thesis should discuss the process with their departmental advisor.  Below is a timeline of the steps required to successfully complete the thesis. Full details of the requirements and procedures for the SYE Honors Thesis can be found in the information packet.

In the spring semester of your junior year:

  • Talk to faculty members in the department about possible project/thesis ideas and topics.
  • Do some preliminary investigations of areas of interest.
  • Pick a potential thesis advisor (one of the department faculty) and topic.
  • Submit a Preliminary Thesis Proposal to the department chair at no later than Sunday, April 7, 2024. The Government faculty will then meet to approve Preliminary Thesis Proposals.
  • When registering for courses, register for GOVT 489- SYE: Independent Study with your chosen thesis advisor using the add/drop system, as the SYE class is by permission only.

In the fall semester of your senior year:

  • In consultation with your thesis advisor, select the remaining two professors for your committee.
  • Submit a Formal Thesis Proposal to the department chair, approved by the thesis committee, no later than the date mid-semester grades are due. Details on the requirements of the Formal Thesis Proposal can be found in the above linked information packet.
  • Approval of the Formal Proposal is not automatic, and without it the students may not advance to the senior thesis status. If the student has not prepared a satisfactory proposal by the mid-term deadline date, or decides, for whatever reason, not to pursue the senior thesis, the paper retains its status as an Independent Project.
  • Once the committee has approved a student’s formal proposal, the Department will change the course registration to Senior Year Thesis status (GOVT 497 - SYE: Senior Thesis). The students will receive an X grade for the fall semester. The final grade for the SYE will be determined at the end of the spring semester, and the X grade from the fall will be adjusted accordingly. 

In the spring semester of your senior year:

  • The final draft of the thesis should be submitted to the committee no later than final week of classes in the spring semester.
  • The committee will meet with the student during exam week for an oral defense of the thesis. After this presentation, the committee deliberates and makes the decision regarding to final grade, and whether to award the completed thesis Honors. 
  • If it is decided to award the paper Honors, the thesis formally receives that designation only upon actual completion of the project. Actual completion includes any and all revisions students are asked to make at their end of year meeting with the thesis committee, and those edits must be submitted to the committee for approval.  Formal University Honors can only be awarded to students who have a minimum GPA of 3.5 in all courses in the major. 
  • Every year the Government Department sponsors a Senior Year Forum at which all students who have written a thesis present their research and findings at the Senior Year Forum to government majors and to the Government Department faculty.