Bentley Hall with Annex

Honors Tutorial 

The Department of Political Science participates in a three year Bachelor (BA) degree program offered by the Honors Tutorial College (HTC). HTC students majoring in Political Science also have an opportunity to use their fourth year in college to complete course requirements for a Master of Arts (MA) degree. Only a small number of exceptionally gifted and talented students are enrolled in this prestigious program, which is modeled after the tuorial programs of Oxford and Cambridge Universities in England. Although admissions to the program are made on the basis of competitive applications from top-ranked high school seniors, the program will consider transfer applications by exceptionally promising students who are not already in the program.

The HTC Program of Study in Political Science consists of nine tutorials and collateral studies selected freely from the regularly scheduled courses. A tutorial is a quarter long academic engagement for 5 credit hours between a student enrolled in the Honors Tutorial College and a faculty tutor chosen by the student to study any mutually agreed upon subject, topic or problem. A tutorial typically meets once a week for one to two hours to discuss readings assigned to the student. The student is usually required to submit in advance of the tutorial session a brief written report on the assigned readings, which the tutor uses in preparing for the follow up tutorial session. 

What is expected of the Tutorials?

It goes without saying that the weekly tutorial session should be an intellectually stimulating and useful experience for students, who are among the brightest  and most committed to academic excellence, but are not necessarily well informed at their early age. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that the first tutorial meeting be used by the tutor to assess the student's level of competence in order to detect and remedy his or her weaknesses. Students are expected to be rewarded in their grade by the progress they make through the quarter as well as the level of achievement in their academic efforts. They thus expect their tutors to let them know periodically how they are progressing in the tutorial and not to surprise them with a totally unexpected grade at the end of the tutorial.

A tutorial is an intensive instruction conducted by means of interactive exchange of ideas and analysis that are tailor made to fit the needs and demands of the individual student. As such, it is not a regular lecture in which instructors impart their knowledge to students, punctuated only by occasional questions and answers. In particular, the tutorial studies are committed to training students in effective speaking and writing. Students should be given ample opportunities to write and be commented on the matters of style and substance by the tutor. The ideal tutorial, in short, is an experience in intellectual apprenticeship in the skills of academic discourse in addition to familiarizing our students with academic problematique in the given area of study.

The tutor is required to provide the Honors Tutorial College through the Department Tutorial Program Director with tutorial description at the end of the quarter, whether or not the tutorial has been completed. The tutorial evaluation is to be submitted promptly upon the completion of the tutorial. Both the tutorial description and evaluation are central to the academic record of our students, who also receive from the program director a copy of the description and evaluation by the tutor.

What are the department's formal graduation requirements?

In the name of flexibility that honors talented and self-motivated students who wish to pursue their own personalized program of study, the Tutorial Program in Political Science makes its formal requirement as simple as taking just nine quarterly tutorials in three to four years collateral studies chosen from the regularly scheduled courses. The tutorial student takes responsibility, in consultation with the program director, in choosing a tutor and enrolling in one 5 credit hour tutorial in each academic quarter. For first-year tutorials, the student will enroll  POLS 297T, 298T, and 299T respectively in the fall, winter, and spring quarters; the second-year in 397T, 398T, and 399T; the third-year 497T, 498T, and 499T.  POLS 498T and 499T are designated as research tutorials in which the student engages in independent research leading to the Honors Tutorial Thesis required for graduation.

The tutorial student who is pursuing a combined BA/MA degree program in the Department of Political Science is not required to register for POLS 498T and 499T. The departmental approval for the graduation from the HTC with a major in Political Sicence, however, is contingent on the student's successful defense of his/her MA thesis.

The tutorial student in Political Science who wishes to take a leave from the required quarterly tutorial(s) must consult with the program director in advance of the expected leave and agree upon a compensatory plan of study. The repeated failures to seek prior permission for leave will result in the dismissal from the program.

What are not formally required but EXPECTED of tutorial students?

The academic and personal disciplines go hand in hand in the Honors Tutorial program. Our tutorial students are expected to be self-motivated and intellectually interested, and be free from the problems of learning and personal discipline. The tutorial program, structured loosely with the minimum degree of required courses, is designed to give maximum flexibility to self-reliant students who wish to construct their own program of study. This structurally relaxed program of learning is not a license to idle aimlessly through three years of random sampling of courses and tutors in the department. Any sign of laxness in the tutorial performance should be promptly dealt with by the tutor and the program director unbecoming of he privileged status as a tutorial student. Rather it is that the honors tutorial program without specific course requirements is  not suitable to those students who would benefit from more structured curricular environment.

The fact that our tutorial students are free to pursue their own program of study unencumbered by the formally required courses should not be taken to mean that we do not have an expectation about their balanced, coherent, and effective intellectual development. Although our program does not explicitly require students to distribute their curricular selections among various subfields of Political Science, we do expect them to do so. At the same time, we also expect students to acquire certain specialized familiarity in Political Science. A balance of breadth and depth is expected in their curricular choices. Although our program does not compel students to take two year college level courses in foreign language, we do expect them to have the equivalent level of competency at least in one foreign language. We also recommend that students acquire a certain level of skill in elementary statistical analysis as well as in the use of electronic sources of political data and information. Needless to say, the mastery of the English language, both written and spoken, is expected. We would also expect our tutorial students to stay in touch with the news around the world and develop their own analytical and critical understanding of the events and phenomena that condition their lives.

Honors Tutorial College (HTC)