Honors Program in International Security Studies

    Program Overview
  • Program Overview
  • Course Requirements
  • Policy-relevant Internship
  • Honors College
  • Honors Seminar
  • Honors Thesis
  • Eligibility and Program Requirements
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact Us

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 over 200 students through the class of 2019. 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 Rod Ewing and Amy Zegart. The program has five central requirements: course requirements, policy-relevant internship, honors college, honors seminar, and 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 may be able to 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 cisachonors@stanford.edu 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. 

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 FileRelevant Course 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 FileHonors 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 may be able to 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)

Frequently Asked Questions

About the Program

How does the program support the writing of my thesis?

One of the features of the CISAC Honors Program is the 3-5 credit course, IIS 199. The course meets weekly to discuss various components of thesis-writing, and allows for multiple opportunities for feedback from instructors and peers. Guest speakers will also provide insights 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 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.

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 cisachonors@stanford.edu prior to applying.

Can I take the two required courses, POLISCI 114S and MS&E 193, during my senior year?

Yes, although you are highly encouraged to complete or be enrolled in at least one of these courses prior to applying.

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.

 

About Internships

I haven’t completed an internship yet. What should I do?

Students may complete the internship any time during college up through the summer between junior and senior years, including Stanford-in-Washington. If you need assistance finding or arranging an internship, please contact cisachonors@stanford.edu. 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 cisachonors@stanford.edu 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 cisachonors@stanford.edu for instructions and an application.

Does doing independent research with a faculty member or participating in Summer Research College count as an internship?

No.

 

About Applying

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?

No.

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 cisachonors@stanford.edu. For questions related to thesis-writing and research, please contact Dr. Amy Zegart, Honors Program Co-Director. We also encourage you to speak to your academic advisor. Additionally, there is an information session in late January each year, which provides an opportunity for you to ask questions to faculty members, the teaching assistant, current students, and alumni.

Can I apply if I plan to co-term?

Yes, but we highly recommend that you have a conversation with your advisor regarding your ability to balance your 4th year workload.

Can I be in the program for a year other than my senior year (such as junior year)?

No.

Can the same person sign my consultation form and write my letter of recommendation?

Yes.

How do I apply?

Please apply here for application components and instructions.

Contact Us

Email us at cisachonors@stanford.edu.

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

Why select the CISAC Honors Program?

Former Honors College Student Irene Kim explains, "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." Watch the video to learn more. 

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.