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Undergraduate Honors Program

SPA graduates 2014

The SPA Honors Program provides SPA students with outstanding academic records the opportunity to earn school-based Honors. SPA students in the highly-selective Honors Program take rigorous courses in public affairs open only to SPA Honors Program members; conduct a year-long original research project mentored by two faculty members; and participate in Honors Program activities.

Students admitted to the SPA Honors Program will fulfill the following requirements during their final four semesters:

  • Year 1: Two 3-credit SPA Honors Colloquia OR one 3-credit SPA Honors Colloquium and one Honors supplement to an existing 3-credit 400-level or above course. Courses may be applied toward the major.  
  • Year 2: Honors Thesis (6 credits): Two-semester course sequence in which each student produces a senior thesis that makes a distinctive and original scholarly contribution to the field. The honors capstone seminar combines a research methods course with a writing support group and individual academic counseling.

To apply, a student must:

  • Have completed at least 45 credits (AP credits are not included in the 45 credits), with a minimum of 15 credits completed at American University;
  • Have at least four semesters remaining; and
  • Have a minimum GPA of 3.67. SPA Honors students must also take one of the SPA research methods courses—JLC 280, GOVT 310, or JLC 604—before enrolling in the capstone sequence.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the SPA Honors Program?

    The SPA Honors Program provides SPA students with outstanding academic records the opportunity to earn school-based Honors. SPA students in the highly-selective Honors Program take rigorous courses in public affairs open only to SPA Honors Program members; conduct a year-long original research project mentored by two faculty members; and participate in Honors Program activities.

  2. Where can I find the SPA Honors Application?

    To apply to the American University Honors Program, you must complete the program application.

  3. When do I apply for the SPA Honors Program?

    Students apply in the second semester of their sophomore year, when they have four semesters remaining at SPA.

  4. What are the requirements for admission to the SPA Honors Program?

    Eligible students will be invited to apply early in the second semester of sophomore year. To apply, a student must have completed at least 45 credits (AP credits are not included in the 45 credits), with a minimum of 15 credits completed at American University; have at least four semesters remaining; and have a minimum GPA of 3.67.

  5. Can transfer students apply?

    Qualified transfer students with a minimum of 15 credits completed at American University may apply.

  6. When is the application deadline?

    The application deadline for the program is March 15.

  7. How many students are accepted into the program each year?

    The SPA Honors Program admits up to 20 students per year.

  8. What are the requirements for the SPA Honors Program?

    The following requirements are needed to graduate with Honors:
    • Earn minimum 3.67 cumulative GPA to apply;
    • Complete one of the SPA research methods courses—JLC 280, GOVT 310, or JLC 604
    • Complete two SPA Honors colloquia or one colloquium plus an approved honors supplement to an existing 3-credit course at the 400 level or above, and complete the two-semester Honors capstone course with original thesis.

  9. What is the Fall 2016 Honors class called and when is it taking place?

    The fall 2016 SPA Honors Colloquium is SPA-396-002, Politics and Policy in Washington, DC. The Spring 2016 SPA Honors Colloquium is GOVT 423, Political Economy of Development.

More Information

For more information, contact SPA Honors Program Director Lara Schwartz: lschwart@american.edu