International & Comparative Policy Studies

ICPS Junior Qualifying Examination

The ICPS Junior Qualifying Examination is a thesis proposal for the ICPS Committee. It is normally eight to ten pages (2000–2500 words). In the proposal, the student defines the thesis topic, discusses its significance, briefly reviews the relevant literature, proposes a methodology to be used in researching the topic, and presents a short bibliography of relevant secondary works and/or primary resources. The ICPS Committee will read the thesis proposal and may meet with the student for a half-hour oral discussion of the topic’s scope, viability and significance. See the ICPS Junior Qualifying Examination Handbook for more information.

Any student wishing to take the ICPS Qualifying Examination in a semester should contact the ICPS Chair by Friday of the first week of instruction. If the candidate successfully completes the home department examination and the ICPS thesis proposal, then ICPS Committee admits the student to the senior year and ICPS 470 (the thesis course).

It is important to take your home department examination and the thesis proposal seriously. If you do not pass the Qual in your home department, you cannot be admitted into the ICPS major. This is true even if the ICPS Committee accepts your thesis proposal. In this case, you must retake the Qual in your home department in order to become an ICPS major. Likewise, your ICPS thesis proposal may not pass. The Committee may might feel it might be more appropriate for a student to complete the thesis in the home department, and the student will become a regular major (anthropology, sociology, political science, economics, history, as the case may be). The Committee might consider the proposed thesis topic not sufficiently located in the area of international or comparative policy studies. This is why it is wise to speak well in advance with ICPS faculty as to what constitutes a viable thesis topic.

Most students ultimately pass the qualifying examination; it is usually the case that the student has been in contact with their advisor in their home department throughout the semester, and so students have had multiple opportunities to receive feedback on their proposed topic and design. Any shortcomings in the qual often result in conditional passes that require additional work, including additional research on methods or case selection.

The qual involves three steps:

Noon of Monday of Week 3

Proposal Due

Noon of Monday of Week 7

Draft Research Designs Due

Noon of Monday of Week 12

(Week 11 of instruction)

Final Papers Due


All of the steps will be turned in to Moodle.