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Awards and Scholarships

At the University of Michigan, students have the opportunity to take part in a wide range of activities that bring distinction not only to themselves, but also to the University. Here are some special awards, honors and scholarships that reward the efforts of Political Science concentrators.

Awards in which Students are Nominated by Faculty and Graduate Students

Grace Award

This award is given for excellence in undergraduate research. As of 2015, the department’s Frank Grace Award has two categories:

  1. Award for the single best honors thesis decided on by the senior honors instructor
  2. The most impressive undergraduate research activity. This category encompasses research papers, research proposals, contribution to graduate or faculty research projects, or original research.

Award Amount: $1,000 (Please note: If a team of students is nominated for the Grace Award, the amount will be evenly distributed amongst the recipients.)

Number Awarded: One student or group per category per year

Deadline: Faculty nominations are submitted in early April and the scholarship is announced shortly thereafter.

Past Recipients of the Grace Award

2017 Thesis Award: 

  • Lauren Shepard, Thesis title: "Plaintiff-Empowering Litigation and Ashker v. Brown."

2017 Research Award:

  • “The Silver Question – Issues of Political Economy in British India 1875 – 1893” Student teams consisted of:  Maryam Ahmed, Anne-Sophie Dubey, Tyler Loveall and Katherine Zhao

2016 Thesis Award: 

  • Kaveri Sharma, Thesis title: “Can Big Money Buy You Love? Exploring the Relative Influence of Independent Expenditures in Post-Citizens United Congressional Elections”
  • Trevor Grayeb, Thesis title: “Enabling Variables in Electoral System Reform: Towards an Understanding of Institutional Stability”

2016 Research Award:

  • Nicholas Berg and Abbie Berringer Project: Our project explores how ethics laws affect lobbying in Lansing.
  • Eli Scheinholtz and Claire Bryan Project: content analysis of the changing norms of racial rhetoric in presidential elections over the last 30 years.
  • Matthew Hecker Project: An Analysis of the Legislative Process Behind the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986

2015 Thesis Award:

  • Katy Robinson, Thesis title: “A Complex Superiority Complex: Understanding the Relationship between State Repression and Security Force Structure.”

2015 Research Award:

  • Minerva Project team consisting of the following students: Erin Eusebi, Cody Giddings, Madeline Hartlieb, Jonathon Hyman, Grace Lutfy, Sturat Richardson, Erica Segre, Ryan Tactac, Michelle Polizzano
  • The Minerva Research team has been working for three years on a Department of Defense Minerva grant on “Terrorist Alliances: Causes, Dynamics, and Consequences.”

Awards in which Students Apply

William Jennings Bryan Prize

This award was funded out of a speaker’s fee given to the University by William Jennings Bryan in 1896. Bryan himself had received a prize in college which had spurred him on to further endeavors. The prize has been given consistently since 1936. The Department gives this award to the graduating student (or students) who show the most promise each year.

Award Criteria: In deciding the winner of the prize, the Undergraduate Affairs Committee considers grade point average and pattern of course work, honors thesis (if relevant), future plans, and leadership activities at Michigan. You will need to submit a resume and a writing sample. This award also requires one letter of recommendation.

Award Amount: $500 for the Bryan Prize; $1000 for the Leadership Prize

Number Awarded: There are a total of four winners (three from the application pool and one leadership winner.)

Deadline: We request applications from eligible students by Friday, March 30.

Past Recipients of the Bryan Prize

2017 Winners:

  • Bryan Leadership Prize: Marni Ginis and Alexandra Kuske 
  • Bryan Prize: Morgan Cullen, Lauren Shepard, and Shiyuan Yin

2016 Winners:

  • Bryan Leadership Prize: Bing Sun 
  • Bryan Prize: Arun Datta, Trevor Grayeb, Lucy Hoffman

2015 Winners:

  • Bryan Leadership Prize: Katy Robinson
  • Bryan Prize: David Garavito, Meg Scribner, Leslie Tang

Kleinman Student Essay Award

The Kleinman Political Science Student Essay Award is an award for the best essay written by a student on how the study of political science has shaped their goals. Essays could cover topics such as putting your coursework to action, knowledge gained outside of the classroom, and balancing civic goals with job goals. Submissions should be no longer than five pages in length. The award is generously funded by a gift from Sidney Kleinman.

Award Criteria: All Political Science majors and minors are welcome to apply for this award.

Award Amount: $1000 (Please note: If more than one student is selected, the amount will be distributed amongst the recipients.)

Number Awarded: 1-2

Deadline: We request applications from eligible students by Friday, March 30.

Kleinman Student Essay Application

Past Recipients of the Kleinman Prize

2017 Winners:

  • Kavita Raval
  • Madeline Hibbs-Magruder

2016 Winners:

  • Caryn Greenberg
  • Isabel McMullen

2015 Winners:

  • Carolyn Lawrence
  • Katy Robinson

Scholarships in which Students Apply

Matthew K. Smith Study Abroad Scholarship

The purpose of the Matt K. Smith Study Abroad Scholarship fund is to enrich students’ international experiences.

Possible uses include, but are not limited to:

  • A research project conducted abroad (for example, field research for an honors thesis, expansion of the study-abroad term paper)
  • Extra travel during a study-abroad semester to explore a new location museum, exhibit or event tickets
  • Subscriptions or equipment (for example, a subscription to a premium blogging account or the purchase of a camera to document the study-abroad experience)

We encourage you to be creative and think outside the box. However, the funds are not for purely leisure or vacation travel or such expenses.

This award is provided every other year.  The next prize year for Undergraduate students will be 2019.

Award Criteria: All Political Science majors and minors are welcome to apply for this award. Students will be required to submit a proposal that includes your desire for this scholarship and a budget.

Award Amount: $500 each

Number Awarded: Up to 6 awards are given each year when the prize goes to the Undergraduate Program

Academic Experience Funding

The Political Science Department has a new program to help support our undergraduate students by providing small amounts of funding (up to $500) to facilitate academic experiences beyond the traditional U-M classroom that advance students’ understanding of political science as a discipline. Students may use the funding to support plans for conference attendance, internships, research projects, or study abroad.

Award Criteria: All Political Science majors and minors are welcome to apply for this award.

Award Amount: Up to $500

Number Awarded: Multiple awards given each semester

Deadline: Applications must be submitted prior to the start of the proposed academic experience by one of the following deadlines: October 1, December 1, February 1, April 1.

Academic Experience Funding Application

Gerstein Funds for Honor Students

This is an opportunity specifically for students participating in the Political Science Honors program. Funds are available to help support thesis research. If you need things that cost money in your research, please take advantage of the Gerstein Family Research Stipend. This can include anything from books and software to travel and subject payments. This award is generously funded by Mark and Julie Gerstein.

For more information, please visit our Honors Program page

Alumni Honors Travel Fund for MPSA Conference

The Alumni Honors Travel Fund is a competitive award made possible by a donation from Leanne Powner. This award offers a small amount of funding to support sending an honors student to the Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) annual conference to present his/her thesis research. The funds from this award can be used towards any personal expenses incurred as part of the student’s attendance at the conference (e.g. food, in-town travel, etc.).  Students applying for this award should also apply to the department for MPSA funding to cover conference registration, travel, and lodging.

Award Criteria: Eligible students must be in the Political Science Honors Program have been accepted to present at the MPSA conference.

Award Amount: $100

Number Awarded: 1 per year