Senior Thesis

A senior thesis is an extended original research project written under the supervision of a faculty adviser during the student’s senior year. Thesis projects are best suited for students who have an interest in exploring a specific question and/or a field of knowledge beyond their previous course work. Students may complete a senior thesis regardless of GPA.

Steps to Complete a Senior Thesis

  • Determine a topic of interest.
  • Find a faculty adviser who is willing to supervise the thesis. Students may choose a faculty adviser from any department affiliated with the International Studies Program, but the faculty adviser must be a full-time Homewood faculty member and not from another division of Johns Hopkins (e.g., SAIS, Bloomberg School of Public Health, etc.) Please Note: Both a topic of interest and faculty adviser should be solidified by the end of spring semester junior year. Failure to do so may make attempting a thesis impossible.
  • Register for an independent study with the faculty adviser (or other thesis course required by the faculty adviser’s home department) in the fall semester.
  • In the spring semester, if the faculty adviser feels that sufficient progress has been made, register for a second independent study with the faculty adviser and/or other thesis course required by the faculty adviser’s home department.
  • For students planning to graduate in December, the first independent study/thesis course should be taken in the spring semester of junior year and the second independent study/thesis course should be taken during the final semester of enrollment in the fall.

General Thesis Guidelines

  • The thesis should be a total of 6 credits, 3 credits in the fall and 3 credits in the spring, and both courses should be for a letter grade
  • The courses can be independent studies, a departmental thesis course, capstone seminar, or independent research
  • International Studies follows the University standard that grades of C- or better will count for the thesis. 
  • Although the International Studies Program does not have a page length requirement, most theses in the program are between 50 and 100 pages. 
  • The most crucial aspect of the thesis is that the topic must be internationally-focused to be considered an international studies thesis. Failing this, the thesis will be ineligible for the Robert Tucker Prize for Best Thesis in International Studies. 
  • The final draft of the thesis should be submitted to the faculty adviser by the last day of classes the semester the student intends to graduate. Not adhering to this deadline could make the thesis ineligible for the Robert Tucker Prize.

Students enrolled in one of the double major tracks are encouraged to follow the thesis guidelines for that track, which may differ from International Studies. Global Social Change and Development (sociology) students can find more information on the Department of Sociology web site. World Politics and Global Governance (political science) students should register for AS.190.498 Thesis Colloquium during the fall semester.


The Robert Tucker Prize

The Robert Tucker Prize for the Most Distinguished Senior Thesis in International Studies is named after the first director of the International Studies Program – Robert Warren Tucker, Professor Emeritus of American Foreign Policy at the Johns Hopkins University Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. Tucker received his B.S. from the United States Naval Academy in 1945 and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1949. He was co-editor of The National Interest from 1985 to 1990, and president of the Lehrman Institute from 1982 to 1987. He has published essays in Foreign Affairs, World Policy Journal, The National Interest, Harpers, and The New Republic. His 1977 book The Inequality of Nations is a highly skeptical analysis of the Third World’s efforts to redistribute power and wealth in the international system.

Note: Graduating seniors nominated for both the Robert Tucker Prize and the Pier Larson Prize cannot receive both awards.

Past Winners


  • Yunchong Ling: “Civil War as a Misnomer? ‘Endemic Violence’ as a New Framework to Understand Political Conflicts”


  • Chris H. Park: “South Korea’s Arms and Chips: Order-Shaping Capacity of the Global Pivotal State”
  • Daphne Tang: “Structural Resilience in the Eurozone: Sovereign Debt Crisis, COVID-19 Pandemic, and Energy Crisis”


  • Sophia Lipkin: “Genocide and its Causes: Analyzing Nigeria Through the Rwandan Framework”
  • Hayne Park: “The Rise of Chinese Nationalism and its Impact on World Order”


  • Nicole Kiker: “Uneven Temporalities: Climate Inaction and Segregated Time”
  • Valerie Xu: “Finding Space for Xingshaoshu (LGB) College Students in China”


  • Anthony Boutros: “Contentious Citizenship: Gender, Hegemony, and the Fight to Have Rights in Lebanon”
  • Sheng Zhang: “The Promised Land in China? The Largely Unknown Story of Efforts to Establish a Jewish Homeland in Yunnan Province during the Holocaust”


  • Ethan Greist: “Governance Ex Machina: The Chinese Communist Party’s Social Credit System”
  • Kacie Wuthrich: “Trafficking Along the Belt and Road: Potential Effects of Chinese Infrastructure Projects on Drug Smuggling in Central Asia”


  • Kristi Rhead: “The Art of Vivre Ensemble: Establishing Tolerance through Space and Practice in Marseille, France”
  • Lisa Xiao: “Private Sector Development in Rural China: Entrepreneurship in Multi-Ethnic Yunnan”


  • Flora Fan Fei: “China’s Popular Sovereignty: Rethinking Nationalism, Sovereignty, and Chinese Foreign Policy”
  • Corey Payne: “Chaos and Class Struggle: The Limits of Inequality in the Long Twentieth Century”


  • DeAnna Lee Pope: “Governing eMoney: On Bitcoin and Global Governance”
  • Olivia Seidman: “Sustainable Cities, Social Cohesion and Climate Change: A Brazilian Case Study”


  • Alexandre Mason-Sharma: “Foundations of Order: The Police Role in Political Centralization and the Future of the State”


  • Gauri Wagle: “An Exploration of the Sovereign and the Sacred”


  • Archibald S. Henry: “National Identity Reconstruction and War Making in Post Genocide Rwanda”


  • Chris Mirasola: “Resolving Grievances in Rural China: A Local Analysis of Changing Perspectives on and Processes for Addressing Issues in the Countryside”


  • Claire Cravero: “The Crisis of the Republican Nomad: The Tziganes in Contemporary France”


  • Jake Meth: “Evolution Through Revolution: The Story of Religious Nationalism’s Expropriation of the Revolutionary Zionist Tradition”


  • Michael Goodwin: “A Path to Nationhood? The Valesco State, Sendero Luminosos, and the Construction of the Peruvian Political Imaginary”


  • Jamen Tyler: “Muslim Problem or Problem with Muslims? Perception and the Integration of Muslim Immigrants in Britain, Germany, and the Netherlands”


  • Sunyoung Park: “The ‘Rational Brinkmanship’ of North Korea: A Possible Overture to the Resolutions of the North Korean Nuclear Crisis”
  • Maytal Saltiel: “A Child’s Return: The Social Reintegration of Child Soldiers in Mozambique”


  • Sam Seunghyo Baek: “Toward the Democratization of North Korea: The Politics of Refugees”
  • Michelle Browne: “Breaking the Cycle of Child Soldiers: An Analysis of How Sierra Leone Intends to Destroy the Cradles that Raised Child Soldiers”


  • Brooke Neuman: “Splitting the Difference: An Assessment of Partition as a Solution to Conflict”


  • Rebecca Nelson: “The Art of Political Economy: Credit Rating Agencies and State Sovereignty”


  • Nicole Nucelli: “A Europe of Patries or Nations? Ethnonationalism, France, Europe”
  • Suman Sureshababu: “Micro-Finance in Africa: A Question of Sustainability”


  • Louisa McClintock: “The Legacies of Collaboration: The Presence of the Past in Modern-Day Germany and France”


  • Jessica Shapiro: “Politics of Humanitarianism”
  • Josephine Valencia: “Spiritual Forces: Religious Pluralism in West Africa”


  • Pia Sha: “Journey Over a Night: Transglobal Rave Culture at the Turn of the Millennium”
  • Shelley Fairweather: “Food, Fun, and Foreign Affairs: The International Relations of American Popular Culture in Europe”

Departmental Honors

Departmental honors will be awarded to students who have a major GPA in the top 20% of the International Studies graduating class OR have a major GPA above a 3.7 and have written a senior thesis.