Course Requirements

Upper-Division Honors Scholar Requirements in POLS:

The Political Science (POLS) Department follows all University Honors Program requirements for graduation as an Honors Scholar. The University Honors Program has the following requirements:

  1. Complete a minimum of 12 credits of upper-division honors coursework in the major, with no grade lower than a “B-”,
  2. Complete and submit a senior thesis to the Honors Program Office (which is usually part of the 12 credits) that meets departmental standards for creativity and rigor,
  3. Earn a TGPA of at least 3.4 by graduation
  4. Meet any specific and/or additional departmental Honors requirements
  5. If following the 2012-13 catalog or later (and graduating in Dec 2015 or later), take a “breadth” course (additional 3 credits) in another major.

In order to meet University requirements as a political science major, you must complete the 12 upper-division honors credits (4 POLS courses) and meet the senior thesis/graduation requirement.

The senior thesis/graduation requirement satisfies 6 of the 12 upper-level honors credits in the major (2 of the 4 courses). The requirement involves a two-semester commitment during your senior year which can be met in one of two ways. You can either write a thesis by taking a two-semester course sequence of POLS 4997W/H & POLS 4994 in the fall and POLS 4997W/H in the spring. Or you can take two POLS graduate-level courses, one in the fall and another in the spring. Both options require POLS Honors Director approval and the graduate course option requires permission from the course instructors.

POLS 4997W, POLS 4994, and graduate-level courses can be counted on the major plan of study in Section C — the non-distribution part of the major requirements. POLS 4997W can be used to satisfy the writing in the major requirements. POLS 4994 counts as POLS credit and is required as part of the thesis sequence, but students do not receive honors credit for it. Additional information on the thesis/graduation options are provided on the “Thesis/Graduation Requirements” page.

The remaining 6 upper-level honors credits required in the major must be satisfied outside the thesis/graduation process. Students may do so by enrolling in honors sections, completing honors conversions, taking graduate courses, or any combination of these three. For additional information on these options, see below.

Honors courses should be in political science unless approved in advance by the POLS Honors Director. Graduate courses that count toward the honors degree may not be used toward a graduate degree. Courses used to attain Sophomore Honors cannot be used to fulfill these honors requirements.

For the required honors “breadth” course outside the major, it may be possible to count it on the POLS plan of study as a related course for the major. Please consult with your POLS Honors Adviser about this possibility in advance of doing course work.

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Honors Classes & Conversions

Students can earn honors credits in POLS by enrolling in sections designated as honors sections, converting a non-honors class to an honors class, or completing a graduate seminar. Students must earn at least a B- in the class in order to earn honors credit.

The Political Science Department makes an effort to offer honors sections or courses at the 1000 level each year and honors-designated courses at the 2000 or higher level each semester. A listing of honors-designated courses by major is provided by the University Honors program during course registration. Students enrolled in a designated honors section or a graduate-level course do not need to complete a conversion form as these automatically count as honors credit.

For conversions, students should contact individual professors at the start of the semester to discuss whether they are open to allowing a conversion of a class for honors credit and their expectations for a conversion. POLS faculty are usually open to helping individual students or groups of students convert a class, although faculty are not obligated to agree to a conversion. Whenever possible, students should seek to convert classes with members of the full-time faculty rather than graduate students or adjunct professors. Once a student has arranged an honors conversion with an individual instructor, the student needs to complete an online honors conversion form. Please see the University Honors website for instructions and forms.

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Study Abroad & Conversions

Using the conversion option, it is possible to obtain POLS honors credit for a relevant study abroad course not already designated as honors credit. It requires advanced preparation on the part of the student and approval from the POLS Honors Director who must approve the course as appropriate for UConn POLS honors credit.

Students who wish to pursue this option must decide which study abroad course(s) would be appropriate for conversion and discuss a conversion project with the course instructor and POLS Honors Director. Students should make an effort to contact (via email) the course instructor AND the POLS Honors Director prior to the start of class, though this is not always possible.

Once the course instructor and POLS Honors Director agree to the conversion, the student must complete the online honors conversion form available at the University Honors website. The POLS Honors Director is considered the instructor of record for the conversion project and would consult with the course instructor on site to confirm its successful completion.

An alternative, but less common, method for obtaining POLS honors credit while studying abroad is to work under the supervision of one of the POLS Honors Advisers (Jennifer Sterling-Folker, Virginia Hettinger, Mark Boyer)—from a distance– to complete a conversion project for a study abroad course taken while abroad. This option is typically only available in POLS when the research projects of an Honors Adviser and a student coincide. The POLS Honors Advisers are not obligated to provide such supervision or approval.

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Sequence of Course Work, Requirements, & Suggested Schedule

Graduating with honors takes a significant amount of planning which should begin as early as the sophomore year. Students who intend to graduate as POLS Honors Scholars need to make sure they carefully plan for their last two years. This planning includes:

  • Earning enough honors credits to avoid dismissal for non-participation.
  • Ensuring they will be able to enroll in the POLS classes necessary to meet the Honors Scholar requirements for POLS.
  • Being aware of all the upper-division honors requirements and consulting the suggested schedule for completing those requirements.
  • Planning in advance for how to satisfy the Honors Scholar requirements while studying abroad, completing internships, or graduating early.
  • Knowing the expectations for the Thesis/Graduation Requirement.

Early preparation includes enrolling in sections taught by full-time faculty whenever possible, thinking about substantive political issues that interest you, meeting with your Honors Adviser on a regular basis, and meeting with potential Thesis Advisers.

A number of decisions and forms are required during a student’s junior year which make early planning necessary. Preliminary Plans of Study for Honors Scholars are due the first semester of junior year. Applications for the POLS Honors Thesis/Graduation Requirement are due the second semester of junior year. The latter application requires the approval of the POLS Honors Director and the signature of either a Thesis Adviser or faculty instructors for intended graduate-level course work.

The following is a suggested schedule for POLS Honors Scholars in their final two years:

Junior Year:

  • Take one or two upper-division POLS classes with honors credit
  • In fall, complete Preliminary Plan of Study for fulfilling Honors in the Major
  • In spring, complete applications for POLS Thesis/Graduation Requirement

Senior Year

  • Take one more upper division POLS class with honors credit (if needed)
  • In fall if thesis option, complete POLS 4997W(H), POLS 4994 & 1st draft of thesis
  • In fall if graduate course option, complete a graduate-level seminar
  • In spring if thesis option, complete POLS 4997W(H), orally defend thesis, & submit final draft of thesis to University Honors program
  • In spring if graduate course option, complete a graduate-level seminar & submit final drafts of graduate papers to University Honors program

Students wishing to graduate in less than four years need to be particularly careful in planning course work for their final year. The thesis option requires a specific course sequence involving two sections of POLS 4997W & one section of POLS 4994. This sequence begins in the fall semester, continues in the spring semester, and cannot be taken out of sequence. Thus students who wish to graduate early or in December must take care in planning how they will complete the thesis sequence or graduate-level courses and should discuss this with their POLS Honors Adviser as early as possible.

Please see the “Thesis/Graduation Requirement” page for more information.
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