Community & Visitors Parents & Families Future Students Current Students Alumni & Friends Faculty & Staff
Department of Political Science
Political Science header photo

Undergraduate Research

The Political Science Department encourages and welcomes undergraduate students studying Political Science, or graduate students pursuing degrees in related fields, to work with a Political Science faculty member on his/her research and to earn academic credit as a part of this effort. Undergraduate Political Science majors who wish to pursue a graduate degree in Political Science, Public Administration or related field are especially encouraged to do undergraduate research with a faculty member.

Students may receive one hour of academic credit for PLSC 501; two hours of academic credit for PLSC 502 and three hours of academic credit for PLSC 503. Students may not earn more than six hours academic credit for PLSC 501, 502 and 503 (total) and no more than nine hours for PLSC 498, 501, 502 and 503 (total). Unless they specify and S/U grade when they register for the course, students will receive a letter grade for their research course.

Prerequisites: There are no official pre-requisites for these courses. However, PLSC 350 or a comparable social sciences methods course is strongly recommended for undergraduates.

Compensation: Students may or may not be compensated for the research they conduct. Students are also welcome to work with a member of the faculty on their research projects without receiving academic credit, if they wish.

Political Science Majors Pursuing an Honors Degree: Political Science majors pursuing an Honors Degree may combine the research they do with a faculty member for academic credit, with the research requirements for their Senior Honors thesis. These students are limited to a total of three credit hours for PLSC 501, 502, 503 and an additional three credit hours for PLSC 450H or HONR 450, and no more than nine hours for PLSC 501, 502, 503, 450H, 498 and HONR 450. The final product must be at least of the same scope as the requirements to receive six hours of academic credit in PLSC 501, 502 and 503 listed above, and must be of sufficient academic quality to merit receiving Honors credit.

Political Science majors pursuing an Honors Degree who wish to receive academic credit for research conducted on a project completely separate from their Senior Honors thesis may receive up to six hours of academic credit as described above.

Graduate Students: Graduate students may also enroll in PLSC 501, 502 and 503 as permitted by their respective graduate programs. In every case, the graduate students will be expected to complete longer and/or more sophisticated research projects that will be graded more stringently, as befits their advanced academic status.

Basis of the Grade: In any case, students’ work will be evaluated on the basis of organization, insight, intellectual merit, and the fluency of their written product and their oral presentation. Students are strongly encouraged to submit drafts and/or consult the Writing Center. Poorly written paper, no matter how insightful, will receive a poor grade.

Major/Minor Program Credit

Political Science research credit hours may count as major/minor elective hours, and toward the Social Science minor for students who are not Political Science majors.

Arranging Academic Research Opportunities

All full-time members (and some part-time members) of the Political Science Department are actively engaged in research projects of widely varying natures. Students interested in pursuing research should first discuss their interests with their advisor or another faculty member who can then refer them to the appropriate faculty member. If a faculty member is interested in working with students on their academic research may use the Political Science web page and/or listserv to advertise their opportunities.

Faculty members have complete discretion in selecting students with whom they wish and how many students they will supervise. Faculty, of course, may choose not to collaborate with any students as well.

In selecting student research assistants, faculty members are encouraged to give first priority to advanced students who are interested in pursuing graduate work in Political Science or related field.

Find out more about Undergraduate Research in the College of Arts and Sciences.