The CISAC Interschool Honors Program in International Security Studies provides an opportunity for seniors from all undergraduate schools and majors to conduct rigorous, scholarly research on international security issues, and to graduate with Honors in International Security Studies. The conferral of Honors is in addition to the student's major, which may be in any department or program. Students are admitted to the Honors Program on a competitive basis, with applications due winter quarter of junior year. The CISAC Honors Program has drawn students from 28 different departments and programs since its inception in 2000 and has an alumni network of over 200 students. Alumni consistently cite multiple strengths of the program, including the inclusion of undergraduates in CISAC's vibrant intellectual environment, highly personalized attention from faculty, the program's unique focus within the university and beyond, and the program's interdisciplinary character.
Applying to the Honors Program: Application forms can be found here when they open for submission in late November. Applications are due in mid-February. There is also an info session on the application process and the program itself in mid-January.
The program has five requirements:
- Course Requirements (any two):
- PS 114S - International Security in a Changing World
- MS&E 193 - Technology and National Security
- INTNLREL 115 - Spies, Lies, and Algorithms
- Policy Relevant Internship: Policy relevance is broadly defined. In addition to policy-focused institutions like government bodies or think tanks, this can include work at corporations and technology companies engaged in international business with significant policy implications. This internship must be completed prior to the start of senior year.
- Honors College: The CISAC Honors College, which takes place during early September in Washington D.C., is associated with the Bing Honors College and is free-of-charge for all students enrolled in the program.
- Honors Seminar IIS 199: This year-long, 3-5 unit course guides students through the thesis drafting process.
- Honors Thesis: Completion of an original research thesis represents the culmination of the Honors Program. Submission of theses to the Stanford Electronic Repository is a requirement for Honors conferral.
Successful completion of any two of these three courses is required for Honors conferral.
An internship with a security-related organization provides students with real-world policy experience that informs their honors research. In addition to policy-focused institutions like government bodies or think tanks, this can include work at corporations and technology companies engaged in international business with significant policy implications. Internships are typically completed prior to the junior year application cycle, but those completed the summer between junior and senior years may count towards this requirement, if approved by the Honors Program director. If students have not completed an internship before the summer between junior and senior years, CISAC may be able to assist in placing them and offer a small stipend for living expenses if need is demonstrated. Please note research conducted on campus for a Stanford faculty member on an academic subject will not qualify as an internship. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions regarding whether or not an internship opportunity would fulfill this requirement.
Honors students are expected to participate in the CISAC Honors College, a two-week program that takes place in Washington, D.C. and on the Stanford campus in September, prior to the start of the fall quarter of senior year. Students will have the opportunity to learn about international security policy and discuss their thesis ideas with government officials, legislators, journalists, and think tank scholars.
Students are required to attend a weekly Honors Seminar, IIS 199, throughout their senior year. This seminar provides a foundation in scholarly writing and research methodology, as well as opportunities to workshop thesis chapter drafts. It is typically held on Thursdays from 1:00 PM - 2:50 PM.
Throughout senior year, students will engage in research and writing, ultimately producing an honors thesis that makes a substantive contribution to the understanding of an international security issue. Each student's research is directed by an individual adviser specializing in his or her field of study. To see what previous honors students have researched while at CISAC, please visit SearchWorks here.
- Fulfillall course requirements in their individual departments by the time of graduation, in addition to the units required for the Honors Seminar series, IIS 199 (a minimum of 3 units/quarter).
- Demonstrate sufficient depth and breadth of international security coursework by completingtwo out of three required courses (POLISCI 114S: International Security in a Changing World; MS&E 193: Technology and National Security; and INTNLREL 115: Spies, Lies, and Algorithms). If needed, students may enroll in these required courses during their senior year. Those who apply without having taken the required courses will, if admitted, be required to complete the courses before graduation.
- Have a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.3 at the time of application, which must be maintained throughout the program.
- Provide a letter of recommendation written by a Stanford faculty member or teaching assistant with whom the student has worked closely. This recommender may or may not be the student’s prospective advisor.
- Select at least one Honors advisor who is a member of Stanford's Academic Council (typically, a Professor of any level, a Senior Fellow, or a Center Fellow). Students who wish to be advised by someone who is not a member of the Academic Council should also identify a co-advisor who is a member. Advisors should have research interests that closely align with those of the student. Approval of the prospective advisor must be submitted as part of the Honors application, in the form of an Honors Consultation Form.
- Complete a one-quarter policy relevant internship with a governmental office, international organization, or non-governmental organization engaged in work with implications for international security policy. For those who have not completed an internship before admission into the program, CISAC may be able to assist with placement and may offer a small stipend for living expenses, if need is demonstrated. Students should provide, as part of their application, a letter of reference/evidence of internship completion from an internship supervisor or human resources department noting the student’s title, internship dates, and responsibilities.
- Be on campus all three quarters of senior year.
Questions? Contact email@example.com.
How does the program support the writing of my thesis?
One of the core features of the CISAC Honors Program is the 3-5 credit course IIS 199. The course meets weekly throughout the year to discuss various components of thesis writing, and includes frequent opportunities for feedback from instructors and peers. Guest speakers will also provide insights into research design and methodology to assist you with your thesis development.
What is Honors College?
Honors College is a two-week program that takes place in Washington, D.C. and on the Stanford campus in September, prior to the start of the fall quarter of senior year. Students will have the opportunity to learn about international security policy and discuss their thesis ideas with government officials, legislators, journalists, and think tank scholars.
I am an athlete or have residential responsibilities that would require me to miss part (or all) of Honors College. Is that a problem?
Yes. All students are required to attend the entirety of Honors College. Please be sure to discuss any potential conflicts by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org prior to applying.
Can I take the two required courses (POLISCI 114S, MS&E 193, or INTNLREL 115) during my senior year?
Yes, although we highly encourage you to complete them during or prior to your junior year.
Can I study abroad or elsewhere in the U.S. while in the Honors Program?
No. You must be on campus for the fall, winter, and spring quarters of your senior year.
I am not yet a junior, but I would like to be kept informed of Honors Program-related matters. What should I do?
To be notified of program updates and to receive application reminders, please sign-up here to be added to our Prospective Honors Program email list.
Are non-Stanford students eligible to apply?
No. You must be a current Stanford junior, applying for the program for your senior year.
Is the program open to all majors?
Yes. The CISAC Honors Program is interdisciplinary and welcomes applicants from all majors. However, please be certain that you will be able to complete all of the requirements of your major while participating.
Are there any citizenship requirements?
I am considering applying, but I would like more information to determine if the program is right for me. Who should I speak to?
For general information, please contact email@example.com. We also encourage you to speak to your academic advisor. Additionally, we typically hold an information session in mid-January each year, which provides an opportunity for you to ask questions of the Honors Program instructors.
Can I apply if I plan to co-term?
Those planning to co-term may apply to the honors program. Because of the significant time commitment involved, students may find it difficult to participate in both a co-term degree and the Honors Program. We encourage you to carefully consider this time commitment before applying.
Can I be in the program for a year other than my senior year (such as junior year)?
Can the same person sign my Honors Consultation Form and write my letter of recommendation?
I haven’t completed a policy-relevant internship yet. What should I do?
Students may complete the internship at any time prior to the start of their senior year. If you need assistance finding or arranging an internship, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We also encourage you to subscribe to the FSI Student Programs Weekly Newsletter or visit https://solo.stanford.edu, both of which list potential internship opportunities.
How do I know if my internship will qualify?
Email email@example.com for confirmation. Internships are typically with a governmental office, international organization, or non-governmental organization directly involved in international security policy.
Does CISAC provide funding for internships?
We may be able to provide a small amount of financial support for expenses related to your internship. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for instructions and an application.
Does doing independent research with a faculty member or participating in Summer Research College count as an internship?
Can I take a leave of absence during the Honors Program?
No. Students must be enrolled at Stanford for all three quarters of their senior academic year (fall/winter/spring) to participate in CISAC Honors. If you are admitted to the program and decide to take a leave of absence, the deadline for letting us know and withdrawing from CISAC Honors is August 1. We typically have a waitlist of applicants and need to notify them by that date of whether they will be offered admission. If you choose to withdraw before then, we'd appreciate your letting us know sooner.
Email us at email@example.com.
I found that it was a perfect combination of my interest in international security and the opportunity to conduct a long-term research project that has policy implications in the future.
Former CISAC Honors Student