Political Science Department
Midshipman in front of Bancroft

A Midshipman's Guideline

Political Science Honors Thesis Projects

The honors program is an opportunity to carry out a major research project under the direct supervision of a faculty member.  As an honors candidate, you will be responsible to your faculty advisor who guides the design, research, and analysis of your subject of interest.  The honors program offers an opportunity for Midshipmen to work as individuals and shape their own educational experience.  The instruction governing Honors Programs can be found on the Academic Deans website (ACDEANINST 5420.4D). 


  • In order to graduate with Honors in Political Science, a midshipman must meet the same standards in honor, conduct, military performance, physical education and summer training as required for all degrees at the Naval Academy. In addition, the midshipman must complete the honors matrix for that major and achieve the following standards of academic performance:
    • A minimum CQPR of 3.0 in all academic courses taken for credit at the Naval Academy.
    • A minimum CQPR of 3.5 in all courses that comprise the majors portion of the honors major. Where a midshipman completes a course in excess of that required in the matrix for that major and the course is interchangeable with another that appears in the matrix, the course that yields the higher major CQPR will be used. Core courses in the discipline will not be included in this computation.
    • No grade of "D" or "F" on the official transcript in any academic or professional course is permitted unless an equivalent or a more rigorous course is subsequently taken and a grade higher than "D" is earned. 
  • Midshipmen cannot be an honors student and a VGEP student.

Research Schedule

Second Class Year

First Semester (Applying for Honors):  After six week exams, midshipmen with competitive academic records (i.e., those meeting the requirements of ACDEANINST 5420.4D) are contacted by e-mail and invited to attend an information session with the director(s) of the honors program.  Midshipmen interested in participating in the program will begin to develop their thoughts on an area of research by talking to their professors and undertaking some preliminary research on topics in their courses.  This information will be compiled and presented in the midshipmen’s application to admission into the honors program. 

Second Semester (FP500, Honors Advanced Research Design, 2 credits):  Students admitted to the honors program will enroll in FP500. Students in this advanced research seminar will receive individual design guidance concerning statistical techniques, methodological approaches, and methods for conducting social science literature reviews.  The semester concludes with students selecting primary and secondary research advisers, writing a research prospectus, and orally defending their research prospectus to the Political Science faculty. At the end of the semester, a committee of Political Science faculty will chose which honors projects are accepted for continuation in the program. 

First Class Year

First Semester (FP505, Honors Senior Seminar, 3 credits):  An advanced individual research seminar designed to support a student’s senior honors thesis. This semester students meet regularly with their primary faculty adviser. By the end of the semester, students are required to complete their preliminary literature review, established their methodology for the study, and collected the bulk of their relevant information or data.  

Second Semester (FP510, Honors Senior Thesis, 4 credits):  An advanced research seminar allowing students to complete their senior honors thesis. This semester students will continue to meet regularly with their primary faculty adviser, complete their analysis, and write their honors thesis. The project culminates with acceptance of the written thesis (by the student’s research advisers and the director of the honors program) and the successful oral defense of the project to the Political Science faculty. 

Exiting the Honors Program

Once enrolled in an honors program, a midshipman may disenroll voluntarily only at the end of a semester. The chair of the Political Science Department may disenroll a midshipman who is failing to meet the specified requirements. A midshipman who successfully completes all requirements for a degree with honors except for one or more of the standards of performance specified for honors will graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in the regular major, but without the honors designation. Midshipmen who cannot maintain the higher standards required in an honors major will have a path to graduation via the regular major unobstructed by administrative pitfalls.

Recognition of Achievement

The diploma and transcript of a midshipman successfully completing an honors major will bear the notation "Bachelor of Science, Political Science, with Honors.

Honors Paper Guidelines

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