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Honors Thesis Requirements (for honors students only)

The 7 Steps to Earn Honors Research Distinction:

  1. At least two semesters before graduating (i.e., by the Spring semester of one’s junior year), the student finds a Political Science department faculty member to serve as the Project Advisor

    The Faculty Project Advisor helps guide the research and the writing of the thesis. The faculty member must be tenure-track (holds the rank of Assistant, Associate, or Full professor) and have an appointment in Political Science. We find that most successful thesis writers work with Faculty Project Advisors with whom they have a strong prior relationship. In most cases, students have taken a class from the professor they ask to serve as a project advisor, though this is not required. Ideally, the faculty advisor’s research interests overlap with the student’s research interests, and, if not, the faculty member will advise the student on other faculty members in the department who might be better suited to serve as the Project Advisor. 

    The most important first step is to talk to a faculty member as soon as possible if you are interested in exploring the possibility of writing an Honors Thesis. A full list of our faculty is available on our website.


  2. The student files a formal application with the Honors College in 3180 Smith Lab.

    Note: The student must complete the application and turn it in in person. It is solely the student’s responsibility to ensure that all paperwork is complete ahead of posted deadlines.


  3. The Faculty Project Advisor notifies the department’s Honors Advisor that the student is eligible to enroll in Political Science 4999H.

    The number of credit hours can be negotiated between the faculty advisor and the student. A minimum of four hours, however, generally crossing over two semesters, is required. The maximum number of hours is nine. Students generally need written permission to enroll in 4999H EACH semester, not just the first time. 


  4. The student completes the research and writes the thesis.

    Generally, but not always, the project takes place over the final summer prior to one’s senior year and the two semesters of the undergraduate career. It is often useful to see previous theses to gain a better understanding of departmental expectations. Recent theses are available through the OSU Knowledge Bank.


  5. The student defends the thesis in a one-hour oral examination.

    The requirements for the oral defense committee for Honors Students are as follows:

    1. There must be a minimum of three OSU faculty members
    2. There must be at least two tenured or tenure-track faculty members
    3. There must be at least two Arts and Sciences faculty members
    4. There must be at least one faculty member who does NOT have any appointment in the department of distinction.


  6. The student submits the approved thesis to OSU's Knowledge Bank.


  7. The student graduates with honors research distinction.

    The honors research distinction is printed on the student's diploma and on the student's official undergraduate transcripts.


To graduate with honors research distinction, students must complete all the above, plus:

  1. They must be enrolled in the ASC Honors Program, which requires completion of the honors course work requirement.
  2. They must graduate with a minimum 3.4 cumulative grade point average on at least 60 graded Ohio State semester hours.

Visit the College of Arts and Sciences Honors Program site to view the Honors Thesis Application, Honors Thesis Instructions, and Instructions for the Oral Exam.


Please Note:

While students must be in the Honors Program and complete the Honors Contract (and graduate with a 3.4 GPA and a 3.5 in major Poli Sci GPA) to graduate “with Honors Research Distinction”, you do NOT have to be in Honors to write a thesis. Non-Honors students can see guidelines for writing a thesis here. Students who successfully meet these requirements graduate with a "research distinction."