Undergraduate Programs

Political Science Undergraduate Academic Awards and Scholarships

There are a number of annual awards and scholarships for political science majors. Interested students should contact the undergraduate studies secretary, Zulauf 415, 815-753-1015.

Commencement Awards

Note:  There are no application or submission procedures for commencement awards.


Scholarship and Awards

Application and submission procedures for scholarship opportunities, along with submission deadlines, will be published in the department E-Announcements, on our website, and through social media at the appropriate time of the academic year.  You may also contact the department for information at 753-1015.


Dean's Award

This honor is presented annually to the graduating senior majoring in political science who has achieved both a strong record of scholarship (e.g. high grade point average) and made outstanding contributions to the university community. The recipient is awarded a certificate of achievement at the department's commencement ceremony.  A monetary award will be credited to the recipient's bursar account.

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Department Honors

Graduating political science majors completing the Department's honors program, which includes a high cumulative grade point average and special coursework, and a quality honors thesis in the senior year, are recognized at the department's commencement ceremony. Each recipient is given a special gold cord that identifies a student as someone graduating with department honors.

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Joe R. Wilkinson Memorial Award

The Wilkinson Award honors the graduating senior majoring in political science with the highest cumulative grade point average. The recipient is awarded a certificate of achievement at the department's commencement ceremony and a monetary amount is credited to the recipient's bursar account. In addition, the student's name is engraved on a permanent plaque that hangs in the Department's main office.

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Pi Sigma Alpha National Honor Society

The purpose of the Pi Sigma Alpha Honor Society is to promote the study of political science in the United States through the encouragement and recognition of excellence in scholarship. The Pi Sigma Alpha Honor Society was founded at the University of Texas in 1920 and has grown to over 440 chapters in universities and colleges across the United States. The new members of NIU's own chapter, called Epsilon Zeta chapter, are selected on the following criteria:  1) They must be political science majors who achieved a grade of "B" or "A" in all of their 12 or more political science courses and 2) their overall academic record places them in the upper one-third of their collegiate class. At the Department's commencement ceremony, each new member receives a certificate of membership in Pi Sigma Alpha from the national office and their names are enrolled on Pi Sigma Alpha's membership rolls. Membership in academic honor society is a worthy accomplishment. Upon request, the national office will write letters to prospective employers or graduate schools verifying membership.

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Political Science Scholars

Graduating political science majors with cumulative grade point averages of 3.0 to 3.49 are recognized as "Political Science Scholars" at the department's commencement ceremony. Each recipient is awarded a special certificate of achievement.

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Political Science Students of Distinction

Graduating political science majors with cumulative grade point averages of 3.5 and above on a scale of zero to 4.0 are recognized as "Political Science Students of Distinction" at the department's commencement ceremony. Each recipient is awarded a special certificate of achievement.

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Inez H. Nelson Family Scholarship in International Relations

Benefit:

Partial tuition scholarship for an academic year, which may be renewed for additional year with the approval of the Inez H. Nelson Scholarship Committee. Its purpose is to assist worthy undergraduates who wish to study international relations and to encourage research on the role of smaller countries within the international community.

Criteria:

Applicants for the Inez H. Nelson Family Scholarship must:

Hold junior or senior status during the year in which the scholarship is used, and must be enrolled as a full-time undergraduate, degree-seeking student at Northern Illinois University during the fall and spring semesters of that year.

Shall submit a one- to two-page statement of interest that discusses the applicant’s past interest in international relations; enumerates past course work in international relations; and discusses future plans relevant to international relations. Applicants should include their mailing address, telephone number, e-mail address, grade point average, and their student identification number in their statement of interest.

Shall submit a one-page proposal for a work of original research related to one of the following topics:

  • "Small Countries' Contributions of Benefit to the People of the World"
  • "The Dependence of Small Countries on the Larger Countries for Their Security"

(The proposed work must be completed during the recipient’s term as an Inez H. Nelson Scholar and should be submitted for consideration for publication. Independent study credit may be issued for the project through the Department of Political Science, or any other participating department.)

Preference may be given to applicants who demonstrate financial need as determined by federal financial standards. While applicant need not be of Swedish descent, preference may be given to students of Swedish descent. Scholarships shall be awarded to U.S. citizens without regard to race, ethnicity, religion, age, sex, or national origin.

Application materials should be submitted to: Chair, Inez H. Nelson Scholarship Committee, c/o the Department of Political Science, 415 Zulauf Hall, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115-2887.

Notice of calls for application and submission deadlines will be published in the department E-Announcements during the spring semester.  You may also contact the department for information at 753-1015.

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Washington, D.C. Summer Congressional Internship Scholarship

Benefit:

This highly competitive program provides students with the opportunity to live, learn, and work in the heart of our nation's capital.  Four students will intern on the Hill for a member of the Illinois congressional delegation.  Each student will receive a scholarship to cover the cost of housing and some living expenses, along with a tuition waiver for six credit hours of political science courses.

Criteria:

Applicants for the Congressional Internship must:

Must be enrolled as a full-time undergraduate, degree-seeking student in good standing at Northern Illinois University during the fall and spring semesters of the year in which they apply.

Submit a completed application form which may be obtained from the Undergraduate Studies Secretary in Zulauf Hall 415.

Provide two letters of recommendation.  One letter should be from a faculty member at NIU and the other from someone outside of NIU who is not a relative.  The letters should address not only your academic achievements, but your character, as well.  Letters should be sent under separate cover to:  Congressional Internship, c/o Department of Political Science, Undergraduate Studies Secretary, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL  60115.

Notice of calls for application and submission deadlines will be published in the department E-Announcements.  You may also contact the department for information at 753-1015.

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John C. and Barbara G. Peters Scholarship for Student Public Service

Benefit:

$1,000.00 scholarship given to a student who has made an outstanding contribution to public service through their work in a public service related internship, political campaign, government, or student government.

Criteria:

Applicants for the John G. and Barbara C. Peters Scholarship must:

Be a junior or senior who is majoring in Political Science or Public Administration at Northern Illinois University.

Be a full-time student in good academic standing.  Student must be returning in the fall for at least one more semester.  Graduating seniors are not eligible.

Demonstrate merit and genuine commitment to pursue a career in public service or public administration.

Application materials should be submitted to: Peters Scholarship, c/o the Department of Political Science, 415 Zulauf Hall, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115.

Notice of calls for application and submission deadlines will be published in the department E-Announcements during the spring semester.  You may also contact the department for information at 753-1015.

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Kevin McKeough Award for Outstanding Participation in the Political Process

Benefit:

The McKeough Award honors Kevin McKeough, a professor specializing in American politics, who retired from the Political Science Department in 1999 after 30 years of service. The award, given to a graduating senior, acknowledges the importance of political participation in our society, and it encourages excellence in that participation. The award brings with it a certificate, recognition at the department's annual commencement ceremony, and a monetary stipend credited to the recipient's bursar account. In addition, the recipient’s name will be inscribed on a plaque in the department's main office.

Criteria:

The McKeough Award is given each year to a graduating political science major or minor who has made an outstanding contribution to the political process while at NIU through work in political campaigns, interest group activity, election to public office, or work in government agencies.

Applicants must submit a cover letter of no less than 250 words describing their political participation and its impact, a copy of their transcript, and a letter from a person knowledgeable about their political participation. The letter must clearly describe the applicant’s accomplishments and contributions to the political process. Please note that participation in student government does not count toward the award. Candidates must have earned at least a 2.5 GPA in political science courses.

Although political participation through a departmental internship is strongly encouraged, it is not a prerequisite for this award. Academic credit may be earned for internship activities if arrangements are made before the internship begins.

Applicants should send the cover letter, transcript, and letter of recommendation to the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Political Science, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115.

Notice of calls for application and submission deadlines will be published in the department E-Announcements during the spring semester.  You may also contact the department for information at 753-1015.

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Undergraduate Paper Awards

Benefit:

The Department of Political Science recognizes, on an annual basis, outstanding undergraduate papers written in conjunction with 300-400 level political science courses or directed studies, such as independent studies or honors theses. Winners are expected to attend the Department’s spring graduation ceremony where they will receive a certificate.  The amount of $100.00 is credited to the recipient's bursar account.

Criteria:

No more than two papers may be submitted by a student.  There is no requirement as to the length of papers submitted for the award. Often the Department awards prizes for both an outstanding short paper and an outstanding long paper. The number and types of award is dependent upon the papers submitted for consideration in any given year. Authors do not have to be political science majors or have a particular class standing.

Only papers written in the previous calendar year are considered for the award. However, papers completed in the current spring semester are eligible for the following year’s competition even if the student has graduated.

Papers can be submitted by students or faculty and must be supplied in triplicate to the undergraduate secretary.  All copies must have two cover pages – one with the student’s name and one without the student’s name.  Papers are not to be stapled or bound.  Instead, please use paper clips. 

Papers are generally due in March and notice of call for papers and submission deadlines will be published in the department E-Announcements, website and social media.  You may also contact the department for information at 753-1015.

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