Honors Program

group of SIS honors graduate students in their commencement regalia

The School of International Service (SIS) Honors program is designed for a small group of high-performing, intellectually curious SIS juniors and seniors who seek out additional academic challenges. These challenges include a 12-credit sequence of courses, including two Honors colloquia and a 6-credit Senior Honors Project. All Honors courses count toward SIS degree requirements; participating in the program does not increase the total number of credits required to graduate. Upon successful completion of degree and program requirements, a notation of "Honors in SIS" will appear on the diploma and transcript, and students will be recognized in the commencement ceremony bulletin.

Students apply for the program during the second semester of their sophomore year. The following students are eligible to apply:

  • Students who desire to undertake a significant independent research project during the senior year
  • Students who have declared an SIS major 
  • Students with both a major and cumulative GPA of 3.50 or above
  • Students with second-semester sophomore standing (at least 45 earned credit hours
  • Those who have successfully completed SISU-206 (Introduction to International Studies Research)

Students participating in other Honors and Scholars programs on campus who meet the above criteria are eligible to apply for SIS Honors. Transfer students who meet the above criteria are eligible to apply after they have earned 15 credit hours at AU.

The SIS Honors curriculum challenges students intellectually and provides the faculty mentorship and peer support necessary for a successful Senior Honors Project experience. The 12-credit curriculum includes two honors colloquia and a year-long senior honors project.

Honors colloquia

Honors colloquia are small format courses designed exclusively for Honors students. These courses are typically taken during junior year and are taught by faculty actively researching the subject area. Students take two courses for a total of 6 credits, which count toward upper-division thematic area and/or regional requirements. Sample colloquia include:

  • Civilizations and World Orders: The Making of Global International Relations
  • Innovation in World Politics: Emerging Economies, NGOs, and MNCs
  • Environment and Development
  • Peru: Where Two Worlds Meet

Students may take a different 300-level SIS course in lieu of an Honors colloquium through an Honors course supplement and with permission from the faculty member and the SIS Honors faculty director. Supplements involve extra work that counts toward the final grade for the class. Students may do only one Honors supplement.

To apply for the supplement please email sishonors@american.edu.

Senior Honors Project I and II

The Senior Honors Project is the cornerstone of the SIS Honors program. The project is a serious scholarly endeavor in which students are expected to reflect upon and make an original contribution to the state of knowledge on a particular topic in international studies.

The project will typically be in the form of a research paper, or thesis, of approximately 50–100 pages in length. Students also may pursue projects in other formats, such as a documentary film, novella, multi-media exhibit, or community service project, as long as those formats include a scholarly justification for the project.

Students complete their projects through a sequence of two courses, Senior Honors Project I and II, taken during the senior year for a total of 6 credits. These courses are designed to give students the faculty mentorship and peer support necessary for a successful project experience. In Senior Honors Project I, students select a research topic and question, write the literature review, and explore possible methodologies and research designs. In Senior Honors Project II, students complete their projects under close supervision by a faculty member with complementary methodological and/or substantive interests. Senior Honors Project I counts toward upper-division thematic area or regional requirements, while Senior Honors Project II counts toward the BA in International Studies capstone requirement.

The application deadline for Fall 2023 is Friday, March 10, 2023, at 5:00 p.m. EST. All application materials must be submitted by the deadline to be considered for the program.

Before applying, please review the eligibility criteria to ensure you are eligible to apply.

Applications to the SIS Honors Program must include:

  • A 500-word statement of interest in the SIS Honors Program
  • An unofficial transcript that includes the grade received for SISU-206
  • Letter of recommendation from an SIS faculty member, to be emailed directly by the faculty member to sishonors@american.edu

Please submit your statement of interest and unofficial transcript in a single email to sishonors@american.edu and include your full name in the email's subject line.

Applications are reviewed by a standing committee of SIS Honors Program faculty. Students are notified of the committee's decision by the end of their sophomore year. Those denied admission may appeal during the subsequent semester by reapplying with an updated statement and transcript.

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