Application and Deadlines

Criteria for Participation

To apply to the ICS distinction/honors program, you must:

  • have an updated and approved curricular plan on file with the ICS Program:
  • have completed ICS 195, Comparative Approaches to Global Issues, before application;
  • be on track to complete, by the end of your junior year, a substantial portion of the ICS major (roughly 11 courses, including language);
  • be in good academic standing

Application Elements and Requirements

A Distinction Program application includes (4) Elements:

1. Project Proposal

3-5 pages

The project proposal should demonstrate that you have already begun to research your project and have preliminary knowledge of its dimensions and feasibility. It is particularly important to have taken at least one non-introductory university course that provides foundational knowledge on the topic and to have taken at least one university course that required an independent research paper (on any topic). The proposal should include the following three items: 

  1. A statement of the research problem or question(s) to be addressed in your thesis; 

  2. A discussion of the original or primary source(s) you intend to analyze and how you plan to acquire them. (Note: the research problem and sources often change and evolve as the project develops, but it's helpful to begin thinking in these terms.); 

  3. A discussion of how you became interested in your topic and how your past experiences in coursework, research, study abroad, paid or volunteer work, etc., positions you to research and write about your thesis topic in a rigorous and ethical manner.

2. Basic Bibliography

1-2 pages

The bibliography should include two kinds of materials: primary sources you will analyze or interpret as part of your thesis; and relevant secondary scholarly sources you have consulted as you have begun thinking about your project. The initial bibliography should reflect a cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary engagement with your sources. It is helpful to discuss your proposal and initial bibliography with your prospective research supervisor with these expectations in mind before you submit it.  

If your planned research includes interviews or observation of human interactions (even if virtual), you must receive clearance from the Institutional Research Board before undertaking your research. You may also obtain information about this requirement at the Office of Research Support website. ICS will provide more information about these requirements to students accepted into the Distinction Program.

3. Demonstration of Research, Writing, and/or Creative Excellence

10-15 pages for Writing Samples; Or 1-2 pages to Accompany Creative Projects 

Provide a writing sample (10-15 pages) or a research-informed creative project that illustrates your level of preparedness for the ICS Distinction/Honors program. While it is strongly encouraged that your submitted writing sample relates to your research proposal in some way, please feel free to submit a writing sample on any topic that best demonstrates your research, writing, and analytical skills.

For creative projects, please include a 1-2 page write-up that describes the project in some detail, discusses the research that informed its creation, and provides insights into your production process.  

The recommendation should be obtained from a Duke faculty member who is willing to serve as your research supervisor. Your supervisor should ideally be someone who has worked with you in a classroom setting and who is interested in your proposed project and qualified to guide you through it. You should ask your recommender to send an email to the Distinction Program Coordinator, with an evaluation of your project and an explicit statement of willingness to supervise your work on it.

4. Recommendation From Your Prospective Research Supervisor

The recommendation should be obtained from a Duke faculty member who is willing to serve as your research supervisor. Your supervisor should ideally be someone who has worked with you in a classroom setting and who is interested in your proposed project and qualified to guide you through it. You should ask your recommender to send an email to the Distinction Program Coordinator, with an evaluation of your project and an explicit statement of willingness to supervise your work on it.

Deadlines*

All three parts of the application (Proposal, Bibliography, Writing Sample/Creative Project, and Recommendation) should be emailed directly to the 2022-23 Distinction Program Director, Professor Deonte Harris (deonte.harris@duke.edu). Research supervisors can email the director directly to express their support of your thesis proposal (they do not need to write a formal letter).

We encourage you to get your application in by Monday, April 11th, 2022 to receive full consideration for the program. If you cannot meet this deadline, but intend to submit a proposal, please contact Prof. Harris as soon as possible.

The Scott Lee Stephenson Memorial Fund allows the ICS Program to offer research travel grants related to honors/distinction projects. If you are planning summer research and need funding, submit the research funding application (below) at the same time.