Starting with the graduating class of 2025, all Stanford undergraduates must complete a capstone experience as part of their major. The university describes capstones as “opportunities for students to integrate and apply what they have learned during their major course of study.”

The Department of Political Science will offer three capstone options: writing an honors thesis, completing a capstone project, or participating in a policy practicum. Successfully completing any of these options will satisfy the capstone requirement. We encourage all students to discuss these options with their faculty advisor and department staff during their junior year, to help make timely and informed decisions about which capstone option to pursue.


Honors Thesis 

Students can fulfill the capstone requirement by writing an honors thesis in Political Science or an approved interdisciplinary program. For details about the honors program in Political Science, see this page. Details about approved interdisciplinary programs are available on the websites of the Center for Ethics in Society, the Center for International Security and Cooperation, and the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. Students who would like to satisfy the capstone requirement through another interdisciplinary honors program must submit a petition to the Political Science Department no later than the end of winter quarter of their junior year.

Capstone Project

Students can fulfill the capstone requirement by completing an individually designed capstone project. Students will enroll in a seminar (Polisci 290A, 290B, or 290C) and, as part of that class, produce an original project that integrates and applies knowledge of political science. In most cases, the capstone project will be a research paper that builds on prior coursework, overseas studies, or an internship. Other types of projects may qualify, with approval from the department. Enrollment in the capstone project seminar will be limited to juniors and seniors (with priority to seniors) majoring in political science. Before enrolling, each student must submit, and the department must approve, a description of the intended capstone project.

Policy Practicum

Students can fulfill the capstone requirement by participating in a policy practicum seminar. As part of the seminar, students will study a policy problem and work in teams to develop recommendations for an external client, such as a government agency or a nongovernmental organization. The list of policy practicum seminars will vary from year to year.  Each summer, we will publish a list of practicum seminars for the coming academic year. We encourage interested students to apply in advance, to increase their chance of being admitted to their top choice. Enrollment in practicum seminars will be limited to juniors and seniors (with priority to seniors) majoring in political science.