Honors Program

If you are looking for an exciting capstone experience in your senior year, think about writing a thesis in politics!

Writing a successful honors thesis can be one of the most challenging and rewarding projects an undergraduate major can choose to undertake. It provides students with an opportunity to dig deeply into topics of their choosing. It allows students to engage with important questions about the political world. It offers students a chance to build their research and writing skills.

What is a thesis?

A thesis is the result of an independent research project, entailing at least two semesters of reading, research, and writing. A thesis is designed and executed by the student on a topic of her/his choosing under the supervision of a politics department faculty member.

Who should write a thesis?
  • If you would like to build the most impressive record of achievement in preparation for graduate school in the social sciences or a professional graduate degree program – you should consider writing a thesis. 

  • If you have a question that you would really like to investigate independently in the context of original research – you should consider writing a thesis.

  • If you want to learn how political scientists and political theorists do their scholarly work – you should consider writing a thesis.

  • In addition, the politics department requires that students have at least a 3.5 GPA in politics courses to write a thesis, and each student must have taken a seminar in the politics department prior to the senior year. At the beginning of the senior year, each student is responsible for securing a dolitics faculty member to advise her/his thesis.

What are some past thesis titles?
  • "Cyberwar Norms? Lessons Learned from the Nuclear Case" by Tamar Levkovich

  • "How States Exist Well: Applying Virtue Ethics to Politics" by Michael K. Perloff

  • "Defining Politics, Defining Women: Does Gender Influence How Individuals Classify Activity as Political or Nonpolitical?" by Ilana M. Maier

  • "War, Peace, and Power Transition: Managing China's 'Peaceful Rise' by Galen J. Pardee

  • "Organizational Behavior and Humanitarian Assistance: International Humanitarian Organizations and the Choice to Intervene Amid Violence" by Benjamin A. Bechtolsheim

  • "Staying the Sword: The Influence of Senate Hearings on Executive War Making" by Ruth F. Bloch-Rubin

Plan Ahead

Consider the timeline as you make decisions about coursework and paper topics in your sophomore and junior years. Make sure that you take a politics department seminar before your senior year. Think about taking Politics 50b, Political Science Methods to learn about how to conduct your own empirical research project.

Remember, the more you do now in preparation for writing a thesis, the more rewarding the experience will be in your last year at Brandeis!