Undergraduate Honors

Students at Western Michigan University can add a distinguishing mark to their undergraduate record by graduating with Department of Political Science honors. Completing honors communicates to graduate programs and future employers that a student not only has an excellent overall academic record, but is also capable of sustaining a demanding research project to conclusion. A student's official transcript will indicate if a student graduates with department honors.

Hega with 2019 Honors Award recipientsTo graduate with honors from the Department of Political Science a student must:

  • Graduate with an overall cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above, and a PSCI GPA of 3.5 or above
  • Complete the baccalaureate writing requirement with a Department of Political Science baccalaureate writing course.
  • Complete a thesis and thesis defense

One good way to approach the honors thesis is to further develop a topic on which you have already gained some expertise through a baccalaureate writing class or other upper division political science course. Students may register for PSCI 4920, Political Science Honors Research, to receive course credit for doing the thesis, but this is not required.

The department honors program is not the same as the program offered through the Lee Honors College. It is possible to complete department honors without being affiliated with the Lee Honors College. Many students complete both programs using their single thesis to meet both department honors and honors college requirements.

There is no formal admission process for department honors. A student must simply meet the requirements stated above. It is recommended that a student interested in honors discuss this with a department faculty member and the chair of the Political Science Honors Committee.

Hega with Jack Levy, 2019 Honors

An honors student, after consultation with a department faculty member, defines the thesis project. A three-person committee participates in the thesis project with the student: a principal advisor and two readers. It is suggested that once the thesis topic has been determined, the three-member committee meet with the student to make sure that everyone is clear about the project and how it is to be done. The principal advisor will be a member of the political science faculty; the other committee members need not be. Once the principal advisor is satisfied that a thesis project is close enough to conclusion, the full committee will conduct a thesis defense (oral examination on the thesis). Generally, one final revision of the thesis following the defense will bring the project to conclusion. When the principal advisor is satisfied that the thesis is complete, the advisor will notify the department Honors Committee Chair, who will in turn notify the registrar’s office by email.

A thesis may be done on any topic acceptable to the thesis committee. Actual research topics pursued by previous students range widely


Turn the application into the Department of Political Science in 3308 Friedmann Hall. The deadline is the first semester of the senior year, preferably early in the semester.