Honors

The International Relations Honors Program offers qualified IR majors the opportunity to conduct a substantial independent research project under faculty guidance. You may choose a faculty thesis advisor from throughout the university. The Program will equip you with the professional "tools" to conduct independent research, analyze the findings, and write a final research thesis. The successful completion of an IR Honors thesis project requires a high degree of initiative and dedication and a significant investment of your time and energy.

The Program is interdisciplinary and enables you to undertake a wide variety of research projects. Previous students have written theses on topics such as: international political economy, international security, regional integration, human rights, domestic issues in foreign countries, international education and regional Issues (this list is by no means exhaustive). The IR Honors Program Thesis Prize is awarded annually to a thesis that stands out as exceptional. Winners receive a certificate and monetary award.

To learn more about the IR Honors Program, come to one of our three Winter Quarter Information Sessions: February 4th, 10th, and 16th.  For more information, contact IR Honors Program Director Erica Gould at egould [at] stanford.edu.

View a list of past IR honors students and thesis topics and the library catalog of past IR honors theses.

Applications for the 2022 IR Honors Cohort will be accepted through March 5. Decisions are made on a "rolling" basis within one week after receiving a complete application.

Policies

Prerequisites:

  • A declared International Relations major with a minimum 3.5 overall grade point average.
  • Successful experience writing a research paper.
  • An Honors Thesis proposal.
  • A Thesis Advisor.
  • IR Program approval.

Advisor(s):

  • Your Thesis Advisor must be a Stanford Academic Council faculty member (the IR Office can confirm Academic Council status for you).
  • Your Thesis Advisor is responsible for assigning your grade for INTNLREL 198 (see below). 

Requirements:

  • The spring quarter of your junior year you will take the INTNLREL 200A: IR Honors Field Research course, which is mandatory for all IR Honors students (3 units).
  • The autumn quarter of your senior year you will enroll in INTNLREL 200B: IR Honors Seminar, which will focus on the analysis of research findings and initial steps in writing the thesis (3 units).  At the end of the quarter, you should expect to have 1-2 chapters of their thesis submitted in draft form.
  • The winter quarter of your senior year you will take INTNLREL 200C: IR Honors Thesis Writing, in which you will continue to write your honors thesis and present your research (1 unit). You will also receive feedback on your work from Honors cohort members and provide feedback on their work.
  • Over the autumn, winter, and spring quarters of your senior year, you will enroll in a total of 8-15 units of INTNLREL 198: Senior Thesis with your Thesis Advisor. Students must enroll in at least one INTNLREL 198 unit during each of these aforementioned quarters, as long as they are enrolled at Stanford University. Enrollment in units will be monitored (Note: INTNLREL 200A/B/C do not count within these 8-15 units).
  • Present your thesis findings at the IR Honors Conference in the spring quarter of your senior year (usually in mid-May).
  • Complete 15-22 total honors units (200A/B/C and 198). Honors units are taken above and beyond the IR major 70-unit requirement. Note: 200B satisfies your IR WIM and SEM/COL requirements.

Grading:

  • You must receive at least a B+ in INTNLREL 198: Senior Thesis to graduate with honors. If you are making satisfactory progress toward your thesis, you will receive an N grade for INTNLREL 198 in the autumn and winter quarters and a final letter grade for spring quarter, which will be retroactively assigned to autumn and winter quarters.
  • You must receive at least a B in INTNLREL 200A, INTNLREL 200B, and INTNLREL 200C.

Other Policies:

 

  • If you are not making satisfactory progress with your thesis or otherwise fulfilling the requirements of the IR Honors thesis program, then you may be removed from the program.
  • There is no fixed length for your Honors Thesis, but most IR Honors Theses are between 70-100 pages, plus notes and bibliography.
  • If you are conducting interview or survey research, you must contact the Human Subjects Protocol Panel at http://humansubjects.stanford.edu.
  • If you have completed all of your IR degree requirements, you may register as Permit for Services Only (PSO) in the spring quarter of your senior year while completing your thesis (international students cannot register for PSO status).
  • IR Honors Students may request up to $300 in funding to support research related to their thesis project. You may complete the IR Honors Research Stipend Request Form and submit it to Dr. Gould for review.
Recommended Timeline

    JUNIOR YEAR

    • Attend an IR Honors information session in February.
    • If you haven’t already, enroll in a course related to the subject you wish to pursue in your honors work. 
    • If you haven’t already, take a writing seminar to help develop research and writing skills.
    • Formulate a preliminary thesis topic and consult with faculty members who might serve as your thesis advisor. Confirm your Thesis Advisor, finalize your thesis topic, and develop a work plan with your Thesis Advisor.
    • Contact UAR early winter quarter if you wish to apply for a grant to conduct summer research.
    • Submit your IR Honors Program application by the deadline (usually late February).
    • Once again, if you are conducting interview or survey research, you must contact the Human Subjects Protocol Panel for appropriate protocol at http://humansubjects.stanford.edu.
    • In spring quarter, enroll in INTNLREL 200A: IR Honors Field Research.

    SUMMER

    • Sharpen your proposal and start your research.  The more research you do over the summer, the more you can concentrate on writing once you get back to campus.
    • We strongly recommend that you participate in Bing Honors College, which is a free program that provides you with the opportunity to work on your theses with a cohort of Honors students and faculty advisors for three weeks in September before the start of your senior year. 

    SENIOR YEAR     

    Autumn Quarter
    • All Honors students should enroll in the Autumn quarter course INTNLREL 200B: IR Honors Thesis Seminar, which will focus on the analysis of research findings and initial steps in writing the thesis.  At the end of the quarter, you should expect to have two chapters of their thesis submitted in draft form.
    • Enroll in INTNLREL 198: Senior Thesis with your Thesis Advisor for 2-5 units. 
    • In consultation with your advisor, establish a detailed timeline for draft completion progress.
    Winter Quarter
    • Enroll in INTNLREL 200C: IR Honors Thesis Writing.
    • Enroll in INTNLREL 198: Senior Thesis with your Thesis Advisor for 2-5 units.  Continue to meet with your Faculty Advisor(s) as agreed. 
    Spring Quarter
    • Enroll in INTNLREL 198: Senior Thesis with your Thesis Advisor for 2-5 units. You should plan to submit to your Thesis Advisor(s) a first draft of your completed thesis by the second week of the quarter so that comments and revisions can be made.
    • Present your honors thesis findings at the IR Honors Conference in mid-May.
    • Submit an electronic copy of your thesis to your Thesis Advisor(s), one bound copy and one electronic copy to the IR Program Office, and one electronic copy to the Stanford library by the announced due-date (usually early June).  To be considered for a thesis prize, you should submit your completed thesis to your Thesis Advisor(s) by the awards deadline (usually in mid-May).
    How to Apply

    Are you a declared IR major interested in completing a major independent research project, developing a close relationship with a faculty advisor, and graduating with honors? If so, join us at an information session to learn more about the Honors Program in International Relations. Our program is interdisciplinary and enables students to pursue a wide variety of research projects.  Students can elect to work with faculty throughout the university and will be equipped with the professional “tools” to undertake their own independent research, analyze the findings, and write a final research thesis.  Successful students will possess a high degree of initiative and dedication and also demonstrated skills in research and writing. Applications are now being accepted on our Stanford On & Off Campus Learning Opportunities (SOLO) webpage. Contact Erica Gould at:  egould [at] stanford.edu to learn more.

    2022 Application Materials: 

    1. Resume or CV
    2. Copy of your most recent unofficial transcript
    3. IR Honors Program Thesis Proposal Form
    4. Thesis Proposal (3-4 pages)
    5. Brief summary of your interest in writing an Honors thesis (no more than 2 pages)

    Award Recipients

    2022

    • Firestone Medal for Excellence in Undergraduate Research
      • Justin-Casimir Braun
        • Germany's Changing 'Boundary of Belonging': Anti-Immigrant Attitudes amidst the Refugee Crisis of 2015

    • IR Honors Program Thesis Prize
      • Brooke Beyer
        • Tell all the truth but tell is slant: Education, Collective Memory and Transitional Justice in postcolonial Britain
      • Sharon Du
        • Hard and Soft Propaganda: Marketing Autocracy in Contemporary China

    • Award for Excellence in Honors Thesis Presentation
      • Zimeng “Lily” Liu
        • “Not Just a Barcode”: A Descriptive Analysis of Data Privacy Protection for Refugees Resettling in the United States


    2021

    • IR Honors Program Thesis Prize
      • Nitish Vaidyanathan
        • Chinese Influence in South America: Dimensions of Power in Argentina and Chile

    • Award for Excellence in Honors Thesis Presentation
      • Chloe Stoddard
        • Truth and Justice: Understanding Franco's Use of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) for Political Gain and Envisioning Justice for Impacted Individuals and Communities 


    2020

    • Firestone Medal for Excellence in Undergraduate Research
      • Emily Bishko
        • Of Dinners and Diplomacy: What White House State Dinners Reveal about Relationship Building and Goodwill Signaling in U.S. Foreign Policy Advised by Robert Rakove

    • Award for Excellence in Honors Thesis Presentation
      • Veronica Kim
        • Clinging to Power: British Economic Policy in Egypt, 1930-1952

    • IR Honors Program Thesis Prize
      • Erica Scott
        • Nations by the Numbers: Ethnoracial Data Collection and National Identity in the United States and France


    2019

    • Firestone Medal for Excellence in Undergraduate Research
      • Lloyd Lyall
        • Ethno-Religious Diversity and Recovery After Conflict in Post-ISIL Iraq: A Geospatial Approach

    • IR Honors Program Thesis Prize
      • Audrey Huynh
        • The “Black Blouse Girl”: The History of Sexual Violence in the Vietnam War and the Opportunities for Justice
      • Kyle Kinnie
        • The Eagle and the Dragon: Sino-German Military Cooperation 1919-1938

    • Award for Excellence in Honors Thesis Presentation
      • Audrey Huynh
        • The “Black Blouse Girl”: The History of Sexual Violence in the Vietnam War and the Opportunities for Justice