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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.

Grace Award

This award if given for excellence in undergraduate research activity (other than an honors thesis). As of 2015, the department’s Frank Grace Award has two categories:

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

The award is substantial ($1,000) and equivalent to the award given to the best honors thesis. (For teams, it will be split evenly among the recipients.) The work should therefore have been substantial, too. 

Application/Nomination process:
Grace award winners are nominated by faculty and graduate students.

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.

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 extra-curricular activities at Michigan.

Application/Nomination process:
We request applications from eligible students sometime in March. The leadership award winner is selected by our Undergraduate Affairs Committee from the pool of students who apply for the award. There are a total of 4 winners (2 from the application pool, 1 leadership winner by nomination.)

Kleinman Prize

We have been offered an award from a generous donor for a Political Science Major or Minor. The Kleinman Political Science Student Essay Award is a great opportunity for our majors/minors to submit an essay on a topic of their choosing.

Application/Nomination process: 
All Political Science majors and minors are welcome to apply for this award. Members of our Advisory board help select the winner(s) for this award. The final year of this prize will be 2017.

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.

Application/Nomination process:
All Political Science majors and minors are welcome to apply for this award. Our Director of Undergraduate Studies selects the winner(s) for this award. This award is provided every other year.

Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA)

The Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) was founded in 1939 and is dedicated to the advancement of scholarship in all areas of political science.

The purposes of the MPSA are to promote the professional study and teaching of political science, to facilitate communications between those engaged in such study, and to develop standards for and encourage research in theoretical and practical political problems.

The Department of Political Science offers to fund some of our majors and minors to attend MPSA as student presenters if their paper was accepted or to go as an attendee of the conference. This is a great opportunity that affords our students a first-hand look at research and presentations in the field.

Application/Nomination process:
All Political Science majors and minors are welcome to apply for this award. Our Director of Undergraduate Studies selects the winner(s) for this award. This award is provided every other year. 

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 study abroad, conference attendance, internships, or even research projects.

Application/Nomination process:
All Political Science majors and minors are welcome to apply for this opportunity. Our Director of Undergraduate Studies selects the winner(s) for this award.

Gerstein Funds for Honor Students

This is an opportunity specifically for students participating in the Political Science Honors program. There is money available to help support thesis research and to explain the rules and the process. 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. Paying for services — e.g., coding, transcription, translation — is possible, but a bit trickier. Mark and Julie Gerstein, who provide the funds, really want to facilitate something that you couldn’t do without the funds. 

For more information, please visit our Honors Program page

Previous Winners

Grace Award Previous Winners:

2016 Thesis Award--2 winners

  • 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: 3 winners

  • 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: 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.”

William Jennings Bryan Prize Previous Winners:

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 Prize Previous Winners:

2016 Winners:

  • Caryn Greenberg
  • Isabel McMullen

2015 Winners:

  • Carolyn Lawrence
  • Katy Robinson