University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Political Science

Honors Program

UVM Political Science Students Win National Recognition

Allison Lehrer, a 2011 graduate in Political Science, was named the national runner-up for Best Honors Thesis in the US by Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society. Ms. Lehrer’s thesis was entitled “Diversity on the Bench: The Appointment of Women to the Federal Courts,” Her faculty supervisor, with whom she worked closely on the project, was Prof. Lisa Holmes. Lehrer’s thesis was also the winner of the UVM department’s Alan Wertheimer Award for the outstanding senior honors thesis

It was the third consecutive year that a UVM political science student was either the winner or runner-up in the national competition. Caryn Devins, currently a law student at Duke University, was runner-up in 2010, and Peter Johannessen, currently pursuing a Ph.D. in political science at Princeton University, was the winner of the competition in 2009.

"They exemplify what we hope to achieve with our students".

-- Prof. Patrick Neal, student advisor of the UVM chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha

The goal of the program is to provide small class experiences for our best students. We believe that these classes will provide for more vigorous discussion, the opportunity to interact with other highly motivated students, and an intense commitment to developing writing skills. Perhaps even more important, we expect the program to promote a greater "esprit de corps" among political science majors and the faculty. It will provide an opportunity for students to get to know one another, to discuss current political events, and to know the faculty on a more personal basis.

Each semester the department will designate one course at the 100 level as the semester's honors course. These courses will be open only to those students who are members of the departmental honors program. They will fulfill requirements for the major in the same manner as regular courses and have the same prerequisites.

Graduating with honors in political science will require the student to complete successfully two "honors courses" in addition to the senior honors seminar (POLS 293) in the fall of the senior year. Admission into the senior honors seminar is guaranteed to a student who has maintained at least a 3.6 overall grade point average (and work of similar quality in political science courses). Students with a grade average below this may be invited in any given year, though this is not guaranteed.

The transcript of students who successfully complete the honors program in political science will be marked "honors graduate in political science."

Admission into the Honors Program

Students who have completed at least one course in political science with an A or A-, and who have an overall GPA of 3.6 or above, are eligible. Invitations are sent out by the Director of the Honors Program. If you have fulfilled the qualifications, but have inadvertently not received a letter of invitation, please contact the Director of the Honors Program, Professor Patrick Neal, Patrick.Neal@uvm.edu.

Pi Sigma Alpha

Pi Sigma Alpha, the national Political Science Honor Society, was founded in 1920, and there are now over 460 chapters established at universities and colleges across the United States. The Chi Nu chapter was established here at UVM in 1999, because of our desire to create ways to recognize and honor the achievements of our most outstanding senior students.

The criteria for admission to the UVM chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha are that you have (a) completed at least 20 hours (7 courses) in political science, while maintaining, minimally, a 3.4 average in these courses, (b) maintained, minimally, a 3.4 grade average for all courses and (c) rank within the top 20% of all senior political science majors.

An installation ceremony and reception for new members is ordinarily held each spring, on the Friday of graduation weekend. Invitations to Pi Sigma Alpha are sent out in April. If you have any questions, please contact Chapter President, Professor Patrick Neal.

Last modified February 27 2013 02:58 PM