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Our Distinction Program enables students majoring in International Relations to engage in an enhanced research and mentoring experience. Distinction candidates are required to produce a research project of substantially superior quality and longer length than the capstone research project required of all International Relations majors.

In addition, the Distinction Program aims to provide young scholars with the skills and support needed to produce an original analysis based on primary sources or fieldwork, as appropriate, suitable for presentation at an academic conference or for publication in an undergraduate social science academic journal.


Membership in the Distinction Program is by the invitation of the International Relations Program staff. Decisions are based on the minimum eligibility criteria provided below.

To graduate with Distinction in International Relations, students must:

  • Complete all requirements for the International Relations major
  • Complete an enhanced Senior Capstone project
  • Earn a grade of B or higher in the Distinction research seminar
  • Present the results of the research project in a public forum or conference
  • Achieve a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.4 and IR GPA of 3.5 at time of degree certification

Eligibility Requirements

Membership in the Distinction Program is by invitation of the IR Program staff, which carefully reviews the academic record of all declared IR majors. Minimum requirements for an invitation to the program include:

  • Junior standing (minimum 54 credits accrued), but with preference given to seniors
  • Cumulative GPA of 3.4
  • Major GPA within the top 10% of the rising senior class, which is typically 3.7 or higher
  • Completion of the research methods course requirement (with a grade of C or better)
  • Significant progress toward completion of major requirements, including topic and region concentration coursework
  • A demonstrated commitment to academic integrity

Frequently Asked Questions Distinction Program

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