The Honors Process

An honors thesis is a substantial piece of scholarship contributing to an existing literature in the study of politics.

The honors process entails four evaluative stages:

  1. Applying for an invitation in Winter Semester of junior year
  2. If invited, submitting a formal thesis proposal at the start of Fall Semester of senior year
  3. Submitting and defending a literature review and outline by the middle of Fall Semester, successful completion of which means admission to the college’s honors process
  4. Submitting and defending the thesis late in Winter Semester

Further details about the Bates College Honors Program may be found on the Honors Committee website.

The department’s honors program for Politics majors is as follows:

  • In order to be considered for an invitation to the honors process, you must have completed or be enrolled in at least six courses taught by Bates Politics faculty by the end of your junior year, or at least four courses in the case of transfer students. At least one of those courses must be a 300-level seminar.
  • To be considered for an invitation, you must consult with at least one Politics faculty member about your idea and submit the following by Monday, March 25, 2024:
    • A research question whose answer would add to our understanding of politics. The contribution may be theoretical, empirical, and/or applied.
    • A list of courses you have taken or are taking that are relevant in some way to your research question.
    • A two-page explanation of your choice of research question. Specifically, explain why this question is important to answer and what we will learn from a theoretical, empirical, and/or applied perspective from answering it.
    • An annotated bibliography with ten scholarly sources (peer-reviewed journal articles, scholarly books, or book chapters published in scholarly edited volumes) that you might use to frame or to answer this question. Your annotations should provide brief summaries of the sources in no more than two sentences each.
  • The department will consider these materials as well as your GPA within the major and will extend an invitation if at least two Politics faculty members agree to it. You will hear whether you receive an invitation by Monday, April 8, 2024.
  • If you receive and accept the invitation, you  must enroll in 457 in the Fall of senior year. You must also have found and contacted an advisor prior to the start of the Fall Semester.
  • To begin the honors process, you must submit a copy of a 6-8pp research proposal (about 1500 words) with a bibliography of no less than 15 peer-reviewed sources to your advisor by 5pm on Monday, September 9, 2024.  Failure to submit a proposal by then will mean that you have opted for a one-semester, non-honors thesis.
  • The Department will review your proposal by Monday September 16, 2024 to determine if the extra semester is necessary and beneficial for the completion of the project. If the Department decides that your proposal does not meet the above criteria, you will continue with a one-semester Fall thesis.
  • If you remain eligible for a two-semester senior thesis, and you want to pursue honors, the department requires you to submit a first draft of a literature review chapter and an outline for the rest of the thesis, which should discuss question, evidence gathering, and proposed method of analysis, to the full department faculty by Monday, October 21, 2024. The department will develop a workshop or other format for presentation and evaluation to take place before Friday, November 1, 2024, where students should be prepared to discuss these materials with multiple members of the department. Based on that presentation and your answers to department faculty questions about your work thus far completed, the Politics faculty will nominate you for honors consideration. Candidates who move forward in the process are formally nominated to the College Honors Committee.
  • Students who are not nominated for honors consideration can continue their thesis as a non-honors one-semester project, with the deadline for completion being 4pm on last Friday of classes of the Fall Semester.
  • After turning in the thesis, candidates will defend their thesis in front of a panel of examiners, as per the college’s guidelines.  The panel consists of a member of the Politics Department (not your advisor), a non-departmental Bates faculty member, and a scholar from another institution.  You may consult with your advisor on the selection of honors examination panel members.
  • The thesis is graded by your advisor, but honors is granted by the examination committee.