Department Honors Thesis

The political science department offers an honors thesis program for those students who have done distinguished work in their political science classes. This program should be of particular interest to students who are considering graduate studies in political science or related fields.

Application to the political science honors program IS BY INVITATION ONLY. Specific requirements related to GPA and coursework determine qualification to the program. Qualified students will have completed at least one upper level course in the department

Students admitted to the honors thesis program will take two thesis supervision courses in their senior year and write a substantial thesis under the guidance of a POLS faculty.  Only one of these courses may count toward the POLS major.  Students writing an honors thesis must complete 10 POLS courses required for the major, plus one thesis course (a total of 11 courses in the major at the time of graduation). 

In order to help prepare candidates to submit their thesis prospectus, the department requires attendance to a research design/methods course during the applicant’s junior year.  At the conclusion of their senior year, students present and defend their thesis in an open forum.

    Study Abroad

    student sitting on a fence overlooking the water, with arms outstretched

    Political Science majors are encouraged to study abroad. Most programs abroad will offer courses that can be used to complete Political Science major requirements, but students should review the information below before considering this opportunity.

    • The Study Abroad Advisor for Political Science is Prof. Ward Thomas.
    • The Political Science Department will grant up to three units of course credit toward the major for political science courses taken during a full year of study abroad. For students who study abroad for just one semester, the department will grant up to two units of credit toward the major.
    • Students may not use courses taken abroad to fulfill any of the four introductory course requirements. Also, the department will not grant credit toward the major for courses of the type "Introduction to Political Science."
    • Courses taken abroad may be used as appropriate to fulfill upper-division requirements within the major.
    • Courses taken abroad may only count toward the political science major if they are actually political science courses. Courses in the fields of history, law, sociology, philosophy, etc., will not be approved for credit toward the major.
    • To count toward the major, all political science courses taken abroad must be approved by the Political Science Study Abroad Advisor. Students will ordinarily be expected to submit a full course syllabus or reading list before approval will be granted.
    • The fact that a course was approved for credit toward the major in a previous year does not guarantee that it will be approved in the current year or in future years.

    Washington Semester Program

    Holy Cross students during the Washington Semester Program visiting the Supreme Court

    Many political science majors spend a semester working, studying, and conducting research in Washington, D.C., although this program is open to majors in other disciplines as well. Each student obtains an internship in a government office or in organizations dealing with politics, communications, business, education, law, social service, health, and other public policy issues. Besides the internship, students participate in a weekly public-policy seminar and write a thesis under the guidance of College faculty.

    Learn more about the Washington Semester Program.

    Charles Carroll Program


    Yochai Benkler, the Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard Law School, and faculty co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, gives a keynote address on "The Idea of the Commons and the Future of Capitalism." The conference was sponsored in part by the Charles Carroll Program. 

    The Charles Carroll program, named after the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, enriches the department’s curriculum through its focus on the major themes of the American political tradition and the tradition of political philosophy — themes intimately connected to the College’s broader commitment to the liberal arts and the Jesuit educational mission.

    The program brings distinguished guest lecturers on these subjects from a variety of perspectives each year; funds a sophomore seminar, to which admission is competitive; supports two postdoctoral students, who enrich our course offerings; and also provides students with opportunities for paid summer research internships.

    Learn more about the Charles Carroll Program.

    Political Science Honor Society

    The political science department sponsors a chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honorary society. Admission (in either the junior or senior year) is based on the student’s grades.