Policy Analysis and Management Honors Program


The Honors Program recognizes the highest level of academic achievement among PAM and HCP majors.  The following provides important information about the Honors Program, including eligibility, the application procedure, and requirements.  The Honors Program is a rigorous and rewarding endeavor.  Though the application process begins in your junior year, in order to be successful it is important that you plan your curriculum carefully, even as a freshman and sophomore.

Eligibility Requirements

In order to graduate with Honors students must be in residence for eight semesters (students can still opt for Study Abroad programs, etc, because these programs require registration as a Cornell student).  Transfer students are eligible for the Honors Program as long as they remain in residence for all semesters after they transfer.  Students must achieve and maintain a GPA of at least 3.3 to be eligible for the Honors Program, and the 3.3 GPA must be maintained even after being admitted into the Honors Program.  Students whose GPA drops below 3.3 will be dropped from the Honors Program (though these students can register for special studies in order to complete their research).

Application Procedure

It is preferable that students apply for acceptance into the PAM Honors Program during the first semester of their junior year (the second semester of junior year is the latest possible period for application).  Students must complete a PAM Honors Program Application Form (email Jen Wright to receive this form).  To complete the form, students must identify and get the consent of a PAM faculty Research Mentor.  The Research Mentor will help the student identify a topic, and act as an advisor throughout the Honors Program.  The Research Mentor must approve the student’s proposed thesis topic and sign the application form.  The student will be notified within two weeks of submitting the PAM Honors Program Application whether they are accepted into the program.

The PAM Honors Thesis

The major component of the Honors Program is the honors thesis.  Each student is required to conduct original research on a topic chosen by the student.  The research must be written up in a formal scientific manner. The PAM faculty Research Mentor will supervise the research.  The Research Mentor and an additional Faculty Representative who are assigned by the PAM Director of Undergraduate Studies will grade the final research during an oral thesis defense.  The written thesis must be submitted by March 21st.  The Research Mentor and Faculty Representative may request revisions, which must be incorporated into the final version of the written thesis that is due by the last day of classes.

Additional Requirements

In addition to the honors thesis, students must complete the following requirements in order to successfully complete the Honors Program.  For the most part these requirements are designed to aid in the research process.

  1. Students must take PAM 3120 Research Design, Practice, and Policy prior to their fall senior semester.

  2. Students must complete a basic and advanced statistical software training session offered through CISER by the end of the fall semester in their senior year. (Note: the PAM department has adopted the STATA software package for use in all undergraduate courses).   

  3. Students must attend four professional research seminars during their senior year (decided upon in conjunction with their Research Mentor).

  4. Students must enroll in 3 credits of PAM 4990 Honors Program during the fall semester of their senior year. In order to continue in the Honors Program students must receive a grade of B or higher. 

  5. Students must meet with their Research Mentor at the beginning of the fall semester senior year to set out written expectations regarding progress on the thesis during the fall semester. 

  6. During Spring semester of senior year students enroll in three credits of PAM 4990 with their Research Mentor to complete the thesis.

  7. Students are required to complete and present a poster of their research at a poster session organized by the Director of Undergraduate Studies between April 15 and the last day of classes in the spring semester. An electronic copy of this poster must be submitted to Jennifer Wright.  Past Honor Posters

Honors Degree

If the thesis is defended to the satisfaction of the thesis committee, and a final thesis with revisions suggested during the defense has been approved, the student will graduate with honors.  The honors will appear on the student’s Cornell transcript and diploma.


Please refer to the timetable below that describes key dates for the honors program.  Students must adhere to this timetable to complete the honors program and complete various forms.

If you have additional, questions please contact Sharon Sassler, the Director of Undergraduate Studies, who runs the Honors Program.

Timeline Action Forms
Spring Semester, Junior Year Apply for PAM Honors Program. Application must be submitted by April 1. Application
Fall or Spring Semester, Junior Year Enroll in PAM 3120 Research Design, Practice, and Policy Checklist
Spring Semester, Junior Year Pre-enroll in PAM 4990  Checklist
Fall Semester, Senior Year Complete an introductory and an advanced statistical software training session offered through CISER Checklist
August, Senior Year Meet with Research Mentor to set out written research thesis expectations to be completed by the end of the Fall semester Expectations Checklist
Senior Year In consultation with the Research Mentor, attend four professional research seminars at Cornell Checklist
Spring, Senior Year Enroll in PAM 4990 with your Research Mentor Checklist
January, Senior Year Form your thesis committee consisting of the Research Mentor and at least one other Cornell Faculty member Scheduling & Results Checklist
March 21, Senior Year Turn in complete thesis draft to your thesis committee and DUS after receiving approval from your Research Mentor Scheduling & Results
March 25, Senior Year DUS assigns a Faculty Representative to the Committee Scheduling & Results Checklist
April 1, Senior Year Schedule thesis defense by April 15 Scheduling & Results
By April 25 Successfully defend thesis Scheduling & Results
Between April 15 and last day of classes, Senior Year Prepare and present a research poster at the poster session organized by the DUS. Send a copy of poster to Jennifer Wright for PAM department archives. Checklist
By last day of classes, Senior Year Revise thesis draft with committee recommendations and receive final approval of committee Scheduling & Results
By last day of classes, Senior Year Submit final thesis electronic copy to Undergraduate Office after being approved by the Research Mentor and formatted according to the submission guidelines as well as signed eCommons Submission Release. If an electronic copy cannot be submitted, a bound hard copy is required. Checklist Release

Please email Jen Wright to receive the following forms:

  • Application
  • Thesis Expectation
  • Thesis Committee, Defense Scheduling & Results
  • eCommons Submission Release
  • Student Checklist 

You do not need to provide printed, bound copies of your finalized thesis, but can submit an electronic copy to the PAM Undergraduate Assistant once your final copy has been approved.

Page size: 8.5x11 inches.

If using a Macintosh computer for the dissertation or thesis, the following fonts and font sizes are acceptable:

  • Palatino 12
  • Bookman 12
  • New Century Schoolbook 12
  • Helvetica 12 or Helvetica 14
  • Times New Roman 12
  • Times 14 (Times 12 is not acceptable)
  • Symbol 12 is acceptable for symbols

If using a PC, the following fonts and font sizes are acceptable:

  • Times New Roman 12
  • Arial 12
  • Bookman 12
  • Helvetica 12
  • Times 14 (Times 12 is not acceptable)

Footnotes may be single-spaced in a 10-point size but must be in the same font as the rest of the text.

Justification: Left-aligned


  • Top: 1”
  • Bottom: 1”
  • Left: 1.5”
  • Right: 1”

Pagination: Use continuous Arabic numbers (beginning with 1) in the same size font as the text for the body of the dissertation or thesis. Page numbers are placed at the bottom of the page, centered between the margins. Chapters within the text begin on new pages.

Spacing: Entire text should be double spaced, except footnotes, quotations, and tables.

Quotations: Use a standard format such as described in one of the following references:

  • Gibaldi, Joseph. The MLA Style Manual and Guideto Scholarly Publishing. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1998.
  • Boyd, Jane and Etherington, Don. Preparation of Archival Copies of Theses and Dissertations. Chicago: American Library Association, 1986.
  • Crews, Kenneth D. Copyright Law and the Doctoral Dissertation: Guidelines to Your Legal Rights and Responsibilities. Ann Arbor: University Microfilms, Inc., 1992.