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Cornell University Cornell Brooks Public Policy

Honors Program

Undergraduate Honors Program


The Honors Program recognizes the highest level of academic achievement amongst Brooks School undergraduates. The following provides important information about the Honors Program, including eligibility, the application procedure, and requirements. The Honors Program is a rigorous and rewarding endeavor. Though the application process begins in your junior year, in order to be successful it is important that you plan your curriculum carefully, even as a freshman and sophomore.

Eligibility Requirements

Students must achieve and maintain a GPA of at least 3.3 to be eligible for the Honors Program, and the 3.3 GPA must be maintained even after being admitted into the Honors Program.  Students whose GPA drops below 3.3 will be dropped from the Honors Program (though these students can register for special studies in order to complete their research). Likewise, to be eligible to start the program, students may not have any outstanding incomplete (INC) grades on their record.  

Application Procedure

It is preferable that students apply for the Honors Program a minimum of three semesters before their expected graduation date. Students must complete a Honors Program Application Form (email the form to the Undergraduate Office). The application is due April 1st of junior year for May Graduates, and November 1st of junior year for December graduates. To complete the form, students must identify and get the consent of a Brooks School faculty Research Mentor. Students who are planning to study abroad second semester of junior year are encouraged to arrange a mentor and complete the application before leaving for off campus studies.  The Research Mentor will help the student identify a topic, and act as an advisor throughout the Honors Program.  The Research Mentor must approve the student’s proposed thesis topic and sign the application form.  The student will be notified within two weeks of submitting the PAM Honors Program Application whether they are accepted into the program.

The Honors Thesis

The major component of the Honors Program is the honors thesis.  Each student is required to conduct original research on a topic chosen by the student.  The research must be written up in a formal scientific manner. The faculty Research Mentor will supervise the research.  The Research Mentor and an additional Faculty Representative who are assigned by the Director of Undergraduate Studies will grade the final research during an oral thesis defense.  The Research Mentor and Faculty Representative may request revisions, which must be incorporated into the final version of the written thesis that is due by the last day of classes.

Additional Requirements

In addition to the honors thesis, students must complete the following requirements in order to successfully complete the Honors Program. For the most part these requirements are designed to aid in the research process.

  1. Students must take PAM 3120 Research Design, Practice, and Policy prior to their fall senior semester.
  2. Students must take NS 3980 – Research in Human Nutrition and Health or PAM 4980 – Honors Seminar, preferably fall of junior year, but no later than fall of senior year. This 1 credit workshop series provides an overview of campus research resources and policies that are relevant for honors research in any social science major.
  3. Students must complete a basic and advanced statistical software training session offered through CISER by the end of the fall semester in their senior year. (Note: the PAM department has adopted the STATA software package for use in all undergraduate courses). 
  4. Students must attend four professional research seminars during their senior year (decided upon in conjunction with their Research Mentor).
  5. Students must enroll in three credits of PAM 4990 Honors Program during their first semester in the honors program. To continue in the Honors Program students must receive a grade of B or higher. 
  6. Students must meet with their Research Mentor at the beginning of their first semester in the honors program to set out written expectations regarding progress on the thesis for the upcoming semester.
  7. During the second semester in the program, students enroll in three credits of PAM 4990 with their Research Mentor to complete the thesis.
  8. Students are required to complete and present a poster of their research at a poster session during the second semester of the honors program.  Several Cornell groups (e.g. DUAC, CURB, etc.) offer poster sessions. Contact the DUS to confirm if your selected poster session will meet this requirement. An electronic copy of this poster must be submitted to

Honors Degree

If the thesis is defended to the satisfaction of the thesis committee, and a final thesis with revisions suggested during the defense has been approved, the student will graduate with honors.  The honors will appear on the student’s Cornell transcript and diploma.


Please refer to the timetable below that describes key dates for the honors program.  Students must adhere to this timetable to complete the honors program and complete various forms.

If you have additional, questions please contact Sharon Sassler, the Director of Undergraduate Studies, who runs the Honors Program.

Timeline for May Graduation Timeline for December Graduates Action Forms
 April 1st Junior Year November 1st Junior Year Apply for PAM Honors Program Application
Junior Year Junior Year Enroll in PAM 3120 Research Design, Practice, and Policy Checklist
Fall of Junior year (preferred); no later than fall of senior year Fall of Junior Year Enroll in NS 3980 or PAM 4980 Checklist
Spring Semester, Junior Year Fall of Junior Year Pre-enroll in your first 3 credits of PAM 4990 Checklist
Fall Semester, Senior Year Spring Semester, Junior Year Complete an intermediate and advanced statistical software training session offered through CCSS Checklist
August, Senior Year January, Junior year Meet with Research Mentor to set out written research thesis expectations to be completed by the end of your first semester in the honors program. Expectations Checklist
Senior Year Spring of Junior year, fall of senior year In consultation with the Research Mentor, attend four professional research seminars at Cornell Checklist
Fall, Senior Year Spring, Junior Year Pre-enroll  in second 3 credits of PAM 4990 with your Research Mentor Checklist
January, Senior Year August, Senior Year Form your thesis committee consisting of the Research Mentor and at least one other Cornell Faculty member Scheduling & Results Checklist
March 21, Senior Year October 21, Senior Year Turn in complete thesis draft to your thesis committee and DUS after receiving approval from your Research Mentor Scheduling & Results
March 25, Senior Year October 25, Senior Year DUS assigns a Faculty Representative to the Committee Scheduling & Results Checklist
April 1, Senior Year November 1, Senior Year Work with committee to schedule the defense Scheduling & Results
By April 15th of Senior Year Before Thanksgiving Break of Senior Year Successfully defend thesis Scheduling & Results
By last day of classes, spring of Senior Year By the last day of classes, fall of Senior Year Prepare and present a research poster at the poster session organized by the DUS. Send a copy of poster to the Undergraduate Office for the Brooks School archives. Checklist
By last day of classes, spring of Senior Year By last day of classes, fall of Senior Year Revise thesis draft with committee recommendations and receive final approval of committee Scheduling & Results
By last day of classes, Senior Year By last day of classes, Senior Year Submit final thesis electronic copy to Undergraduate Office after being approved by the Research Mentor and formatted according to the submission guidelines as well as signed eCommons Submission Release. Checklist Release

Program Forms

Please email the Brooks School Undergraduate Office to receive the following forms:

Thesis Submission Guidelines

You do not need to provide printed, bound copies of your finalized thesis, but can submit an electronic copy to the Brooks School Undergraduate Office once your final copy has been approved.

Page size: 8.5×11 inches.

If using a Macintosh computer for the dissertation or thesis, the following fonts and font sizes are acceptable:

  • Palatino 12
  • Bookman 12
  • New Century Schoolbook 12
  • Helvetica 12 or Helvetica 14
  • Times New Roman 12
  • Times 14 (Times 12 is not acceptable)
  • Symbol 12 is acceptable for symbols

If using a PC, the following fonts and font sizes are acceptable:

  • Times New Roman 12
  • Arial 12
  • Bookman 12
  • Helvetica 12
  • Times 14 (Times 12 is not acceptable)

Footnotes may be single-spaced in a 10-point size but must be in the same font as the rest of the text.

Justification: Left-aligned


  • Top: 1”
  • Bottom: 1”
  • Left: 1.5”
  • Right: 1”

Pagination: Use continuous Arabic numbers (beginning with 1) in the same size font as the text for the body of the dissertation or thesis. Page numbers are placed at the bottom of the page, centered between the margins. Chapters within the text begin on new pages.

Spacing: Entire text should be double spaced, except footnotes, quotations, and tables.

Quotations: Use a standard format such as described in one of the following references:

Accessibility: Today’s publications must meet web accessibility guidelines.  Follow guidelines set forth by the DAISY Consortium on creating accessible word documents.