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Proseminar

What is a proseminar?

All Political Science and International Relations majors are required to enroll in a proseminar. A proseminar is an independent research project attached to an upper division Political Science course. Students are required to write a 15 to 20 page research paper on a topic chosen in consultation with their professor. The proseminar is intended to provide an important experience in independent scholarly inquiry, which culminates in the senior seminar.

Frequently Asked Questions

1) When do I take a proseminar?

The best time to complete a proseminar is during your junior year. However, it will depend on the particular student.

2) What is the difference between a proseminar and my senior thesis?

The proseminar is a precursor to your senior thesis. You will have the option to turn your proseminar paper into the thesis. Or, you can take what you learned from the proseminar experience and apply it to a new or modified topic.

3) Can I double-down on a research paper in the class I am taking the proseminar with?

Somewhat. The proseminar may, under some circumstances, be applied to an expanded project in the course. But this requires at least one credit equivalent of additional work and approval from the professor.

4) How many proseminars am I required to take?

Students are only required to complete one proseminar course.

5) When is the best time to take a proseminar if I’m abroad my junior year?

Many of the study abroad programs last for only one semester, so you can take a proseminar whichever semester you are not abroad. However, if you are abroad for a full year (which you are encouraged to do if you are an IR major in particular), then the best time to complete a proseminar would be the spring of your sophomore year or the fall of your senior year.

6) How do I know who my proseminar advisor is?

Typically, the professor who is teaching the upper division course you enrolled in with your proseminar course is your proseminar advisor.

7) Will I have class time to work on my proseminar?

No. A proseminar is an independent research project that is completed outside of class. Students are expected to meet with their proseminar advisors on their own time.

8) What if I sign up for a proseminar and then decide I would prefer to do it for a different class/professor after the original class is over?

The Political Science Department strongly discourages doing this, although we recognize that circumstances might require it. Work with the professors involved to come to some kind of agreement about who will read the paper, who is responsible for turning in the grade, etc.

9) What if I want to write a proseminar connected to a class I’ve already taken?

The Department also strongly discourages this, but again recognizes that students may develop an interest in a subject after it’s too late to sign up for a proseminar. Ask the professor you’d like to work with if he/she would be willing to work with you on the proseminar assignment. It’s up to each individual faculty member to decide whether he/she will work with you or not.