Writing a Senior Thesis can be a rewarding culmination to the Wellesley academic experience for Political Science and International Relations-Political Science majors.

For both majors, the Honors Program involves the writing of a thesis. Each honors student works closely throughout a full academic year with the faculty member(s) best able to advise her on the topic of her thesis. Honor theses average around 70 pages in length, though this varies considerably depending on the subject matter and the methods. The deadline for juniors submitting an honors’ thesis proposal is the second Monday in April, if this date falls on a Monday holiday the due date will be the following day on Tuesday. All students will normally be expected to submit their proposals by this date. All seniors must submit their final honors’ thesis to the Registrar's Office. The thesis process and deadlines are listed on the Office of the Registrar Web page.


College legislation sets an eligibility requirement of a minimum 3.5 grade point average in work in the major above the 100-level. The Department will consider proposals from students who demonstrate preparation and excellence in Political Science courses related to their proposed thesis. These courses should normally be distributed across both the 200 and 300 levels. Students who fall slightly below the minimum GPA requirement may petition the Department for an exemption from the GPA minimum. Exemptions are granted only for strong proposals supported by a potential thesis advisor.


Proposals include an application form; a two- to three-page prospectus with a preliminary bibliography developed in consultion with your proposed adviser(s); a statement of your academic background on your topic; a transcript (official or unofficial); and a writing sample, preferably a research paper for a political science class. The research prospectus is the key component to the proposal. For hints on writing the prospectus, see the resources below.


First and foremost, you will need a topic that seriously interests you -- enough to carry you through a year of research and writing.  You should develop an answerable research question that you can address in the time and space of a senior thesis. 

There are different ways in which to prepare for the thesis:

  1. Course background matters. You should make sure you have the course background to write on the topic. Substantively, you need to take, if not exhaust, courses in your specific research area. You may also want to consider taking the political science research methods course, 199, to learn how to construct a research design. You should note that the department will evaluate your course background when we evaluate your course proposal.
  2. For a list of honors theses written in political science from 1940 to the present, click here. For a list of International Relations-Political Science honors theses written in 2014-15, click here. Bound copies of these theses are available to look at in the Stettner Political Science Library (PNE 251). Please do not remove the copies from the room.
  3. Researching "how to write a thesis." As a guide to writing the proposal, we have prepared a brief overview. You might also want to consult the following texts on research design and thesis writing:
  • Charles Lipson, How to Write a BA Thesis: A Practical Guide from Your First Ideas to Your Finished Paper . Arco, 2003
  • Stephen Van Evera, Guide to Methods for Students of Political Science . Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997.

Barnette Miller Grants to Support Honors Thesis Research

Through its Barnette Miller Foundation, the Political Science Department makes available funds to support thesis research by Political Science and International Relations-Political Science majors. The maximum amount for an individual award is normally $1500. Funds are limited and not every honors student is guaranteed a grant. The application form can be found here. Applications must be submitted by November 1st of each academic year. Honors students are also encouraged to apply for a Jerome A. Schiff Fellowship, which is administered by Committee on Curriculum and Academic Policy. Students who receive a Schiff Fellowship are not eligible for a Barnette Miller Grant.

Paper Prizes

The Political Science department annually awards Woodrow Wilson Prizse for the best papers written in American Politics and Political Theory and a Barnette Miller Prize for the best papers written in Comparative Politics and International Relations. Only Political Science and IR-Political Science majors are eligible for these prizes. Directions for the submission of papers to be considered for the prizes will be announced in the late spring. Senior winners are listed in the commencement program; winners from other classes are listed in the convocation program.

Pi Sigma Alpha Honor Society

In February 2000 Wellesley inaugurated a chapter (Psi Alpha) of the national political science honor society, Pi Sigma Alpha.  More information about the national society, which was founded in 1920, can be found at the Pi Sigma Alpha website. Senior majors with a 3.5 average in the major a eligible to become members

Class of 2015 Political Science Honor Society Members

Elidia Grace Berg
Kendall Leigh Bianchi
Catherine Elise Binder
Julie Chen
Wenyan Deng
WenLi Fei
Elizabeth Sessions Feldstein
Lavanya Ganesh
Siqi Gao
Brooke Suzanne Gier
AnnaJoy Michelle Gillis
Melodie Vivian Ha
Katharine Anne Harper
Diana Thank Nguyet Huynh
Elizabeth Yvonne Kapnick
Emily Alyse Kremer-McNeil
Brianna Deneve Krong
Meaghan Graham Leech
Sara Libby Lewenstein
Margaret Makepeace McClure
Paulina R. Perlin
Saraswati Praqdipsinh Rathod

Elena Scott-Kakures 
Jillian Nicole Seymoure
Maria Adriana Smith-Lachman
Claire Jun Tam
Chia-ning Yao
Sophie Wang Zhang
Kathleen Lee Zhu

Class of 2014 Political Science Honor Society Members

Emily Bary
Victoria Bledsoe
Campbell Curry-Ledbetter
Safaya A. Fawzi
Kristen Green
Jennifer Gu
Shyaan Zahra Hasnain
Charlotte Hulme
Justyna Jakubaszek
Katherine Joh
Kaitlyn Frances Marie Kirkaldy
Jordan E. Lee
Ana Lomtadze
Meagan Lotze
Rebecca Paine Lucas
Sarah Mahmood
Crystal Myung
Elizabeth R. Pytka
Sara Sassone
Connie Shen
Poppy Yang Tian
Anna Katrina Tupper-Bridges

Class of 2013 Political Science Honor Society Members

Calin Brown
Jessica Choi
Hye Koo
Cristina Lucas
Eun Park
Sarah Rabourn
Kim Quarantello
Dielai Yang

Class of 2012 Political Science Honor Society Members

Briana M. Calleros
Christine M. Choudri
Brianna G. Fitch
Senta M. Knuth
Lydia M. Krooss
Sarah P. Miller
Meagan M. Moody
Kelsey A. Pfleger
Michelle G. Rosin
Khahilia Y. Shaw
Rachel E. Smith
Grace N. Tien
Sarah E. Weinberg
Cat Zhang

Class of 2011 Political Science Honor Society Members

Emily Chan
Joy A. Clarke
Katie Doherty
Hillary A. Fenton
Yaffa S. Fredrick
Hyesung Kim
Taylor L. Miller
Aditi G. Patel
Jayni A. Shah
Diana R. Stroud
Sarah K. Turrin
Michaela S. Wilkes Klein

Class of 2010 Political Science Honor Society Members

Danielle Tiffany Odonna Brown
Monica Colunga Calderon
Stephanie Chang
Cynthia Chen
Erin Goyo Choi
Han Jenny Ding
Nora Johanna Keller
Nola Kosowsky
Yukti Malhotra
Betsy Lynn Raymond
Lily A. Saffer
Sowdamini Saraswati
Kathleen E. Scott
Diane C. Seol
Elizabeth Anne Shirey
June Wang
Yifei Zheng