Department Honors - Politics and International Relations

Department Honors for Politics and International Relations Majors

With approval by program faculty, Messiah University offers an opportunity for upper division students interested in Department Honors, to engage in an extended original research project. Messiah University requires a minimum GPA of 3.5 on all courses completed at the University by the middle of the junior year.  Eligible students, with a university-required minimum 3.5 GPA by the middle of their junior year, may propose a project in conjunction with a faculty advisor.  The full faculty of the program act on the proposal. 

 Essential Elements for POLI Majors Interested in Department Honors 


Students with scholarly initiative and advanced research skills may consider the opportunity to pursue Department Honors Projects. Students may qualify for an honors course by 

  1. earning a GPA of 3.50 for all courses completed at the University to the middle of their junior year,
  2. developing a proposal, including the completion of the syllabus template, and securing a faculty advisor, which must be approved by the program and 
  3. completing the appropriate paperwork for the Registrar’s office. 

NOTE: The university limits faculty assignments for honors projects and directed studies.  Because of caps on the number of projects that faculty may supervise, the program cannot guarantee a particular project advisor to a student.  Students are encouraged to begin conversation with faculty early in the process and consider how faculty with differing areas of expertise may also serve in this role. 


  1. Most students begin approved projects in the Fall semester of their senior year.  However, in consultation with their academic advisor and potential faculty advisor, students may start in the second semester of their junior year. 
  2. Students should begin investigating topics at least one semester prior to the planned start of the project.  Work in major courses may serve as a launching point of deeper investigation into a specific topic for which the project allows. 
  3. The deadline for submission of Honors Project Proposal is December 1 in Fall and April 1 in Spring. If those dates fall on a weekend, submissions will be accepted the next business day. Honors projects in Politics and International relations require 4 credits of project-related work, with 1 credit of preparatory work in the first semester and 3 credits in the second semester. The proposal, including completion of syllabus template, must propose an agenda for research, writing, and contact times with the faculty supervisor, which may be updated by mutual agreement for the second semester. The faculty advisor and student will meet at mutually agreed times during the two semesters. 
  4. At the end of the first semester, student will submit written assessment of the relevant literature and an essay map. Students must obtain the project supervisor’s permission to proceed with their second semester of honors project related work. 
  5. Students writing an honors project are required to make a scheduled public presentation of their work during the last weeks of the second semester, typically in association with Undergraduate Research Week. The date and time for this scheduled public presentation must be determined at the beginning of the second semester of honors project work.  
  6. The final revised version of the honors project, approximately 25-35 pages in length, must be submitted by the last day of classes. 
  7. The honors project Supervisor will then sign off on the project. If the honors work is of such high quality as to merit the grade A, the student will graduate with honors in her / his major field, provided (s)he has completed 4 credit hours.  
  8. Students wishing to archive their work for future may provide a final copy to Murray Library.    
  9. Graduation with honors in a discipline is recognized at commencement and is noted on the student’s diploma. 

Sample honors project proposal are available from the Politics and International Relations Program upon request. 

Syllabus for POLI 497 (1 credit)/498 (3 credits) Politics and International Relations Major Honors