Student Research

Students in the department who become interested in a specific area of research may wish to work on an independent study or an honors project. Every project must be advised by a faculty member.

Independent Studies

Students should consult with a professor to make arrangements for an independent study at least one semester in advance; professors are limited in the number of projects they can direct each year. One semester of independent study work, at either the intermediate or advanced level, may be counted toward the major or minor.

Honors Projects

The department considers the honors paper an important challenge and stimulation to its students. A committee of faculty works closely with students in assisting them to pursue manageable topics and to obtain necessary research materials. The student will be expected to defend the thesis orally in the spring.

Details of the honors program are provided at a meeting of interested seniors in early September. Students seeking to graduate with honors in government and legal studies must fulfill certain requirements: They must receive grades of A in at least half of their government courses and have no more than one C in the major;  write an honors paper, which is normally the product of two semesters of independent study work; and have that paper approved by the department.

View recent Government and Legal Studies Honors Projects

Student Research Stories

Students who pursue independent studies or honors projects work closely with a faculty mentor. Read about recent government advisee-advisor collaborations. 

Want to do research?

Students get their inspiration for independent research projects from any number of sources—a class, a study abroad program, a summer internship, or simply chatting with a professor during office hours.

Bowdoin’s Student Fellowship and Research Office offers competitive fellowships to support students who wish to focus on research over the summer. To seek out this opportunity, a student’s first step is to gain the approval of a faculty mentor who can commit to advising a project. Please read these guidelines on how to submit an application