Honors/Graduation with Distinction

Honors Students

Professional schools, graduate schools, and employers recognize that successfully pursuing independent research requires organizational skills, discipline, maturity, commitment, open-mindedness, and attention to detail. Investment in the process and outcome related to honors projects leads to significant intellectual, emotional, and social rewards. ICS has a long tradition of supporting undergraduate honors research and a well-designed institutional structure to assist qualified students to succeed in this work.

How to Apply

Admission to the International Comparative Studies Distinction Program is selective, requiring an excellent academic record, a thoughtful and feasible proposal, evidence of intellectual curiosity and responsiveness to mentoring, and a strong letter of support from a faculty member willing to supervise the project. The application is typically due in spring of junior year.

Research Methods

If you are contemplating thesis research, we recommend that you take a research methods class in your Junior year. Starting Fall 2023, ICS will offer a list of approved methods courses that can be taken in the place of one language course for credit towards the major.


Completed Project

With significant guidance, each ICS distinction student is expected to produce a substantial research project (typically 70 to 100 pages). The project should embody the critical, multidisciplinary, and place-based approach to global issues that students have been exposed to throughout their ICS coursework. Students may work in, with, and through different mediums such as film, music, photography and poetry. In such cases, a shorter research-based paper is required.

Distinction students often complete original archival, field, or other research with funding support from ICS and other sources, especially during the summer between junior and senior year.

Honors students enroll in the honors thesis seminar sequence (ICS 495S-496S) during their senior year. ICS 495S also fulfills the Capstone requirement for the major. Each student is guided by the seminar instructor and a graduate student writing “coach” through a multi-stage writing process, while working with a faculty research supervisor who has expertise in the project topic.

The completed project is submitted for evaluation to the ICS Distinction Committee by early April of the senior year. Levels of distinction are determined in consultation with the student’s research supervisor. The author of the best ICS distinction project is recognized with the ICS Distinguished Thesis Award.

Other Requirements

Successful completion of all requirements of ICS 495S in the fall term fulfills the major requirement for ICS 489S, the senior capstone course. A student who has completed and done satisfactory work in either seminar, but whose thesis is not completed or is denied distinction will receive graded credit for coursework.

Students who complete the honors thesis seminar sequence take 11 rather than 10 non-language courses in the ICS major: ICS 195, four region courses, four global courses, and two thesis seminars.