Program honors are awarded for outstanding performance in writing a senior thesis.

Discussions about pursuing honors should be held with a faculty member associated with the IA Program well in advance of the senior year (i.e. typically in the spring or summer prior to fall of senior year). Students who hope to become candidates for program honors must register for the two courses in Thesis (IA 495 and IA 496) during the senior year. Work in these courses will be supervised by a faculty member and will be graded in the usual way.
Candidates for honors in International Affairs must have and maintain minimum cumulative averages of 3.60 overall and 3.60 in International Affairs.
The transcripts of students who receive honors bear the legend “Honors in International Affairs with Thesis.”

IA Honors Thesis Flowchart

Getting Started:

As the College catalog states, “Discussions about pursuing honors should be held with faculty well in advance of the senior year.” In order to register for IA 495 you must have the agreement of one of the faculty members associated with the in International Affairs program to be your thesis advisor. That agreement should be reflected in a written statement of your proposed research. This preliminary proposal should clearly identify the topic, the question you are attempting to answer, and the methodology you will employ. We do not expect that you will have written this before your first meeting with a potential thesis advisor in the spring. You must, however, have written this preliminary proposal in a form that the advisor finds acceptable before you can register for IA 495 (typically done with an Add form during the first week of classes in the fall semester).<
If you are interested in writing an honors thesis in your senior year, then junior spring or earlier is the time when you should be speaking with potential thesis advisors and developing a preliminary proposal. You do not need a detailed topic in order to begin this conversation.

The Courses and Process

Students undertaking Honors work in this program register for IA 495 in the first semester of senior year and IA 496 in the second semester of senior year. Both courses count toward the minimum number of courses required for the degree (32), but neither counts toward the 12 courses required for the IA major. Honors in International Affairs is above and beyond the major. IA 496 does count as one of the writing (W) courses required by the Common Course of Study.

Students writing a joint thesis will register for 495 in one of the departments/programs in the first semester and for 496 in the other departments/programs in the second semester. Often, the order in which you register for the two departments/programs does not matter.  Remember, however, that IA 496 counts as a writing (W) course, and IA 495 does not. Therefore, if you need to have the thesis count as a W for your other major (for the new common course of study), register for the IA 495 in the first semester and then register for 496 in the other department/program in the second.

In IA 495 and IA 496, the student works one-on-one with his/her thesis supervisor. In the first course, the student completes a substantial portion of the thesis and identifies work to be completed in the second semester.  The first semester culminates with a formal written paper that establishes the first semester’s progress and a provides a description of the work to be completed in the second semester. The student makes an oral presentation of the paper to the thesis advisor and to the International Affairs program members at the end of the semester, typically in December. If the proposal is accepted, the student receives a grade of “A” for IA 495 and approval to register for IA 496. If the proposal is not accepted, IA 495 is converted to an independent study, with a grade assigned by the supervising faculty member.

In the second semester, the student completes the analysis described in the proposal and completes the writing of the thesis. At the end of the semester, the student defends his/her thesis before his/her thesis committee, and the defense is open to all members of the College. A successful defense of the thesis earns a grade of “A” in IA 496 and the graduation designation of Honors in International Affairs.

The thesis committee consists of the thesis supervisor, another member of the International Affairs program, and a faculty member from outside the program. The latter two members of the committee are selected during the first semester by the student in consultation with the thesis supervisor. There may be additional committee members if the thesis supervisor considers it appropriate.

The International Affairs program encourages students writing honors theses in International Affairs to apply to The National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) or some other venue where they can present their work.