Honors in International & Global Studies

The Fulbright College Program in International Studies has a proud record of Honors accomplishment among its students. Since 2004, it has graduated over 100 Honors candidates (close to 25% of all IS graduates) with 17 achieving the highest distinction of summa cum laude. Details of all these students, including their thesis titles and the names of their faculty supervisors, can be found here. The purpose of this document is to provide you with information about achieving Honors in International Studies, to answer any questions you may have about the Honors Program and International Studies, and to serve as a ready reference for all IS Honors related information.

For more information about your honors thesis and defense, please see the Honors Thesis and Defense page on this website.

Frequently Asked Questions

You may enter the Fulbright College Honors Program either upon matriculation to the university as a freshman or as a current Fulbright College student. If a current student, it is recommended that you fill out a Fulbright College faculty endorsement card, to be signed by a faculty member (not a graduate student). Endorsement cards are available in the Fulbright College Honors Office in Old Main 517.  Incoming students must have an ACT/SAT score of 28/1240 and a minimum high school GPA average of 3.50. Current University of Arkansas students must have a GPA average of 3.50 on all University of Arkansas coursework.

Four-Year Honors students are designated Honors Scholars and join the Honors Program as incoming freshman. They seek to achieve the highest academic and artistic attainment, and are expected to pursue post-graduate education such as law school, medical school, or graduate school. Over one third of all university credits for Honors Scholars are completed in Honors courses, including a Four-Year Scholar’s Core, honors colloquia, and research hours. All incoming freshmen who wish to join the Honors Program and hope to pursue education beyond the undergraduate level are strongly encouraged to participate in the Four-Year Scholars Program. Departmental Honors students are not designated Honors Scholars and do not follow the Four-Year Scholar’s Core. They instead follow the Fulbright College Core but must complete at least 12 hours of Honors coursework in their undergraduate career. The Departmental Honors Program is designed for those students who do not meet the initial requirements for entry into the Four-Year Honors Program when matriculating into the University of Arkansas, or for transfer students who arrive at the university with more than 24 credit hours. A student must declare Departmental Honors at least three semesters prior to graduation. All Honors students, whether Four-Year or Departmental, must maintain a 3.50 GPA average in all University of Arkansas coursework to remain within the Honors Program, and must meet the various annual milestones for program completion set by the Fulbright Honors Program. All Honors students must also write an Honors Thesis. To graduate with Honors in International Studies, this thesis must be written under the auspices of the International Studies Program and not under a second major or second department.

Visit the Honors Program website for the most up-to-date information on dates, deadlines, and forms. Generally speaking, the thesis proposal form, complete with your thesis director’s signature and approved proposal, must be submitted in March of the year prior to an expected Spring or Summer defense and in October of the year prior to an expected Fall defense. For example, if you anticipate defending and graduating in the Spring Semester 2017, your thesis proposal form would be due in March 2016; if you anticipate defending and graduating in the Fall Semester 2017, your thesis proposal form would be due in October 2016. Exact dates within these months can be found on the Fulbright Honors website link given above. Additional committee member signatures are required in October of the year prior to a Spring/Summer defense and in April of the year prior to a Fall defense. Date, time, and location of the defense must be set by February prior to a Spring Defense, and the Defense itself must be completed 2-3 weeks prior to graduation (see Fulbright Honors website for specific dates). You must have a printed copy (not electronic) of your thesis to each member of your committee one week prior to your defense.

In most circumstances, Honors theses are directed/supervised by a faculty member from within their department, with a second (departmental) reader also drawn from within their department, a third reader selected from outside their department, and a fourth reader assigned by the Fulbright Honors Council. However, in recognition of the interdisciplinary nature of the International Studies Program, an International Studies thesis may be supervised by any faculty member who teaches a course within the International Studies major, whether that faculty member be drawn from the History Department, the Political Science Department, or some other Fulbright College department. The second (departmental) reader, likewise, may be any faculty member drawn from any department who teaches a course contained within the International Studies major. The third (outside) reader does not have to teach any courses within the IS major. For the most up-to-date list of courses contained within the IS major, see the Degree Requirements page.

Graduation and Honors Designation

To graduate with Honors in International Studies from Fulbright College, you must complete the requirements of an honors curriculum (either Four-Year or Departmental), must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.50, and must successfully research, write, and orally defend an honors thesis. Only students who fully complete the Honors Program will be assigned a level of honors distinction: cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude. To graduate with each level, you must achieve the following minimum criteria:

Level GPA Honors Hours Thesis Defense Score (out of a possible 9)
Summa Cum Laude 3.90 24 6.50
Magna Cum Laude 3.80 18 3.50
Cum Laude 3.50 12 1.00


To reach the Thesis Defense Score, each member of your Thesis Defense Committee will assign a level for your thesis. Committee members do not have to assign the same level and can disagree in their assignment. The committee’s recommendation will be a numerical average, calculated by the Honors Office, to be used in determining your honors distinction, along with your cumulative GPA and number of honors hours. The numerical designations are as follows:

9 Summa +
8 Summa
7 Summa –
6 Magna +
5 Magna
4 Magna –
3 Cum +
2 Cum
1 Cum –

Thesis Defense Committee members are provided with the following narrative descriptions in making their determinations:

Summa: A committee member is satisfied that the work is of the highest level of research, analysis, writing, or performance, when applicable, and is of the caliber to be presented at a regional or national conference; or submitted to a journal in the field; or performed or displayed in the venue appropriate to the specific artistic discipline.

Magna: A committee member is satisfied that the thesis is a carefully researched, well written, analytical (not simply descriptive) project that assesses the significance of the research involved.

Cum: A committee member is satisfied that the project is worthy of honors and that corrections that need to be made are minor.

No Honors: A committee member finds that the thesis is inadequate and feels that no honors should be awarded; in this event the Honors Council will make a final determination on the student’s status.

Honors Grants and Prizes

One of the great advantages of being an Honors student is your ability to access grants to fund your thesis research and related study abroad. These include grants offered by the Honors College and grants offered by Fulbright College. For current grant opportunities through the Honors College, please see the Honors College Research Grants page. For other grant opportunities, check out the university's scholarships & fellowships page.