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Undergraduate Research

Research Opportunities

The Political Science Department encourages undergraduates to explore the options for working with faculty on research projects. There are a number of opportunities to become involved in political science research outside participation in research seminars. Below we list a few of the more common programs through which undergraduate students have become involved in faculty research programs.

  • Social Sciences students may participate in the Social Sciences Research Enterprise (SSURE).

  • Incoming freshmen may participate in the Rice Century Scholars Program.

  • Juniors and seniors may participate in the Rice Undergraduate Scholars Program.

  • Students can arrange to take a directed readings course (POLI 305/306) or write an honors thesis (POLI 405/406). These course options require working independently with a faculty sponsor. Students who are interested in readings courses or writing an honors thesis should discuss this with Dr. Stoll, Director of Undergraduate Studies. Dr. Stoll can be reached in person in 202 Baker Hall, by phone at ext. 3362, or by email at stoll@rice.edu.

  • Some faculty hire undergraduate students to serve as research assistants, either during the summer or part time during the academic year. These are paid positions. Many undergraduate research assistants use these posts to fulfill their work study obligations, but positions are often available for non-work study students also. The availability and nature of undergraduate research assistantships vary depending on levels of funding at a given time. For more information about undergraduate research assistantships in the department, please contact Dr. Stoll, Director of Undergraduate Studies. Dr. Stoll can be reachedin person in 202 Baker Hall, by phone at ext. 3362, or by email at stoll@rice.edu

Distinction in Research for Political Science Majors 

The award “Distinction in Research and Creative Works” is a University award, granted at Commencement, and appearing on the transcript and diploma.  To be considered for this award the student must have an overall GPA of 3.30 (note: this is a university requirement for the award). 

Students may nominate themselves or they may be nominated by a full-time faculty member of the Department of Political Science. 

Nominees must submit the following information by a department specified deadline: 

1. An official transcript.

2.  Two original research papers.  An original research paper involves the creation of new knowledge about political science.  For example, the submission cannot be simply be a literature review or a narrative (note:  below “paper” will be used as a synonym for research paper)...  Examples of papers that can be submitted (as long as they involve  original research) include: 

Final paper for a seminar. 

Senior thesis (this counts as one paper). 

Paper written for Readings in Political Science (Poli 305 or Poli 306). 

Paper written as part of a research assistantship for a full-time faculty member in political science. 

Paper presented at a conference that includes work by political scientists (note: at the conference the student can have a poster or a given a talk but a complete paper must be submitted for the distinction in research award). 

Additional clarification about the research papers that can be submitted:

Papers can be co-authored as long as all authors are credited.  While this should be clear failure to credit all co-authors is an Honor Code violation.

Papers must have been supervised and/or graded by a full-time member of the political science department. 

The following cannot be submitted for this award:

Papers done at another institution even if the student has received political science transfer credit for the course .

Papers done for another department, program or unit at Rice unless the paper was supervised by a  full-time member of the Department of Political Science.  For example, a student could submit a paper that s/he did as part of work with the Baker Institute as long as that work was supervised by a full-time member of the political science department.

3.  A letter of endorsement by a full-time faculty member of the political science department.

The application and any questions about this award should be directed to the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Dr. Ric Stoll. Dr. Stoll can be reachedin person in 202 Baker Hall, by phone at ext. 3362, or by email at stoll@rice.edu