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Undergraduate Honors Program

SPA Honors Students

The SPA Honors Program is a credit-bearing academic program for outstanding SPA students that positions them for graduate or law school and other advanced work in their fields. Highly-selective, the Program offers students with exceptional academic records who are intellectually curious and especially interested in research, the opportunity to take rigorous, small courses in public affairs open only to SPA Honors Program members, and to conduct an original capstone research project mentored by two faculty members. In addition to the program’s course-work, students gain unique access to a supportive community of similarly high-achieving and academically-oriented peers as well as the chance to foster deep collaboration with faculty mentors. 

  • Complete nine SPA Honors credits consisting of a combination of SPA Honors colloquia (SPA 300), honors supplements to existing 3-credit courses at the 400 level or above, and approved independent study; and
  • Complete the Honors capstone course (SPA 480), in which you will research and write an original thesis.

In order to apply for the SPA Honors Program, students must: 

  • Be on track to complete at least 30 credits at AU by the end of the semester in which they are applying (exclusive of AP credit hours), or have completed at least 45 credit hours with a minimum of 15 credit hours completed at American University
  • Have at least four semesters remaining; and
  • Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.67. 
  • Commit to successfully completing GOVT-310 Introduction to Political Research (3) or JLC-280 Introduction to Justice Research (3), by the end of their first semester in the SPA Honors Program.
  • What is the SPA Honors Program?
    The SPA Honors Program is a credit-bearing academic program for outstanding SPA students that positions them for graduate or law school and other advanced work in their fields. Highly-selective, the Program offers students with exceptional academic records who are intellectually curious and especially interested in research the opportunity to take rigorous, small courses in public affairs open only to SPA Honors Program members and to conduct an original capstone research project mentored by two faculty members. In addition to the program’s course-work, students gain unique access to a supportive community of similarly high-achieving and academically-oriented peers as well as the chance to foster deep collaboration with faculty mentors. 
  • Where can I find the SPA Honors Application?
    To apply to the American University Honors Program, you must complete the program application.
  • When do I apply for the SPA Honors Program?
    Students apply to the program any time starting from their second semester at AU.
  • What are the requirements for admission to the SPA Honors Program?
    Eligible students will be invited to apply as early as the second semester of their first year at AU, if they are on track to have thirty credits earned at AU by the end of that semester, although students may apply as late as second semester of sophomore year. To apply, a student must be on track to complete at least 30 credits at AU by the end of the semester in which they are applying (exclusive of AP credit hours), or have completed at least 45 credit hours with a minimum of 15 credit hours completed at American University; have at least four semesters remaining; and have a minimum 3.67 cumulative GPA.
  • Can transfer students apply?
    Qualified transfer students with a minimum of 15 credits completed at American University may apply.
  • When is the application deadline?
    October 15th, 2021 at 5PM EST.
  • How many students are accepted into the program each year?
    The SPA Honors Program admits up to 20 students per year.
  • What are the requirements for the SPA Honors Program?
    The following requirements are needed to graduate with Honors:
    • Earn minimum 3.67 cumulative GPA to apply
    • Complete one of the SPA research methods courses- GOVT 310 or JLC 280, within the first semester of enrollment in the program
    • Complete 9 SPA Honors credits, consisting of a combination of SPA Honors colloquia (SPA 300-3 credits), honors supplements to existing 3-credit courses at the 400 level or above, and approved independent study; and
    • Complete the Honors capstone course (SPA 480), in which you will research and write an original thesis.
  • What is the Spring 2022 SPA Honors Colloquium?
    The Spring 2022 SPA Honors Colloquium will be "People, Power and Punishment," taught by Professor Carter.
  • What if I want to pursue the combined Bachelor's/Master's program?
    SPA Honors students will receive priority consideration for admission and merit aid funding for SPA's Combined Bachelor's/Master's Programs.

Katherine Boyko.Katherine Boyko is a senior Honors and Politics, Policy, and Law Scholar (PPL) at American University with a double major in Economics with an International Specialization and an interdisciplinary major in Communications, Legal Institutions, Economics, and Government (CLEG). She is also a part of the SPA Leadership Program as well as Roosevelt and Rotaract clubs on campus. As a freshman, she started interning with the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation, the leading independent organization in Washington and Kyiv promoting human rights, democratic, and economic reforms in Ukraine and supporting the mutual objectives of both countries and now works for the organization full-time. This fall, she is also interning at LanComm Business Solutions, a local business consulting firm seeking to aid small businesses and business owners from marginalized communities of D.C.. In the future, Katherine hopes to build a career in economic development and stay in the international, non-profit sector. In her role as the program assistant, she coordinates events, recruits eligible students for the program, and stays in close contact with current members and alumni.

Aaaron ToropAaron Torop Class of 2018

Aaron graduated Summa Cum Laude from American University in May 2018. As a member of the SPA Honors Program, Aaron wrote his senior capstone thesis on Evangelical Voting Behavior. Aaron went on to present his findings at the 31st National Conference of Undergraduate Research, where he won the award of Outstanding Scholarship at the Undergraduate Level. Since graduating in May, Aaron was a part of a small team that organized a Congressional Solidarity Walkout on March 14th, bringing 3,000 high school students and dozens of members of Congress together to walk out and speak out about gun violence. At the walkout, Aaron had the honor of introducing Representative John Lewis, a personal hero of his. In August, Aaron began a one-year position as a Legislative Assistant at the Religious Action Center (RAC). The RAC helps represent the voice of the Union for Reform Judaism on Capitol Hill, which is comprised of 900 Congregations and 1.5 million Reform Jews. Aaron is immensely excited for this opportunity and his ability to continue working in politics from a Jewish perspective.

More Information
For more information, contact SPA Honors Program Director Kimberly Cowell-Meyers kcowell@american.edu or SPA Honors Program Assistant Katherine Boyko kb4262a@student.american.edu.

Program Director

Kimberly Cowell-Meyers Associate Professor SPA - Government

Kimberly Cowell-Meyers is an Associate Professor of Government and affiliated faculty with the Women & Politics Institute at American University. Her work focuses on how representative democracy f

  kcowell@american.edu

  (202) 885-6223