Honors Program in International Security Studies

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    Program Overview
  • Program Overview
  • Course Requirements
  • Policy-relevant Internship
  • Honors College
  • Honors Seminar
  • Honors Thesis
  • Eligibility and Program Requirements

Program Overview

The CISAC Interschool Honors Program in International Security Studies provides an opportunity for Stanford seniors from all undergraduate schools and majors who have strong academic records and interest in international security to receive Honors in International Security Studies. Students are admitted to the program on a competitive basis during winter quarter of junior year. The award of Honors is in addition to the student's major, which may be in any department or program. The CISAC Honors Program has drawn students from 28 different major departments and programs since its inception in 2000 and has an alumni network of 200 students through the class of 2018. Alumni consistently cite multiple strengths of the program, including 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. The program is currently co-directed by Martha Crenshaw and Coit Blacker. The program has five central requirements: course requirements, policy-relevant internship, honors college, honors seminar, and honors thesis.

Students may earn up to 5 units of credit each academic quarter through enrollment in the Honors seminar (IIS 199: Interschool Honors Program in International Security Studies), a key component of the program. A maximum of 15 units can be earned in the program, assuming that the student participates in IIS 199 during all three academic quarters. A minimum of 9 units is required to earn Honors. The units will be rewarded upon the successful completion and acceptance of the Honors thesis.

Course Requirements

Succcessful completion of two courses is required as part of the honors conferral process.

Policy-relevant Internship

A policy-relevant internship with a security-related organization or government agency, in order to gain real-world policy experience. Internships served before or during junior year, by approval of the program director, count toward the requirement. If students have not served an internship before the summer between junior and senior years, CISAC will assist in placing them and offer a small stipend for living expenses if need is demonstrated. Please note that conducting research on campus for a Stanford faculty member on an academic subject will not qualify as an internship. Please contact Marisa MacAskill if you have questions regarding whether or not an internship opportunity will fulfill this requirement.

Honors College

Program members 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 before the start of the fall quarter of senior year.

Honors Seminar

Participation in the weekly honors seminar (IIS 199) throughout the academic year is required. The seminar is led by two CISAC instructors and a teaching assistant.

Honors Thesis

Students will engage in research and analysis producing an honors thesis at the end of senior year 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.

Eligibility and Program Requirements

Students must:

  1. Be able to fulfill all course requirements in their individual departments by the time of graduation, in addition to the units required for the Honors seminar series (a minimum of 3 units/quarter).
  2. Demonstrate sufficient depth and breadth of international security coursework.
  3. Have completed two required courses and at least one related course. Those who apply without having taken the required courses will, if admitted, be required to complete the courses before graduation. If need be, students may be enrolled in these required courses during their senior year, and can take one or more courses concurrently with the required Honors seminar. Please see the Relevant Course Form on page 5 of the application form for a list of related courses (others can also be proposed).
  4. Have a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.3 at the time of application, which must be maintained throughout the program.
  5. Provide a letter of recommendation written by a Stanford faculty member or teaching assistant with whom the student has worked closely.
  6. Submit a signed Honors Consultation Form from a Stanford faculty member, whose research interests are closely aligned with those of the student and who is a likely candidate to serve as the student’s primary thesis adviser. This may or may not be the same faculty member who writes the recommendation letter.
  7. Complete a one-quarter internship with a governmental office, international organization, or non-governmental organization directly involved in international security policy. (Private sector internships are acceptable on a case-by-case basis.) Internships may be completed before or during junior year, including during Stanford-in-Washington; and may, by approval of the program director, count towards the internship requirement. For those who have not served an internship before admission into the program, CISAC will assist with placement and may offer a small stipend for living expenses, if need is demonstrated.
  8. Provide letter of reference/evidence of internship completion from internship supervisor or human resources department noting title, dates, and responsibilities.
  9. Be on campus all three quarters of their senior year.
  10. Be able to attend the CISAC Honors College in Washington, D.C. and at Stanford, scheduled for early/mid-September 2019. The CISAC Honors College is associated with the Bing Honors College and is free-of-charge for all students enrolled in the program.
  11. Submission of thesis to the Stanford Electronic Repository (a requirement prior to Honors Commencement/Certificate Conferral)
In my four years working in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the skills and training I learned from CISAC were invaluable.
Michael Sulmeyer

Honors Program Faculty 2019 - 2020

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Amy Zegart

Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
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Amy Zegart

Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
Davies Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution
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Rodney C. Ewing

Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
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Rodney C. Ewing

Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
Frank Stanton Professor in Nuclear Security
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Asfandyar Mir

FSI Postdoctoral Fellow
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Asfandyar Mir

FSI Postdoctoral Fellow

Facts & Stats

12 Number of spots
28 Major departments and programs represented
200 Alumni network
2000 Inception year
2 Course prerequisites

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 before the start of the fall quarter of senior year. Students will have the opportunity to discuss their thesis ideas with policymakers, members of the media, and think tank representatives, and to learn more about international security policy from a variety of sources.

Honors College Video 2014

Meet our students

Our students are vibrant, engaged, and ready to tackle some of the world's most challenging problems in international security.

Read honors theses from alumni from CISAC's Honors program

During their senior year at Stanford, students in the CISAC Undergraduate Honors Program write a thesis that aims to make a substantive contribution to the understanding of an international security issue.