Distinguished Majors Program

The Department of Politics offers a Distinguished Majors Program (DMP) as an advanced program for students who major in Government or Foreign Affairs. The program provides qualified majors with the opportunity to pursue in-depth research on issues related to the major. Students in the DMP take one more upper-level course in the Department than other majors and write a thesis under close faculty supervision during the year in which they are graduating (typically their fourth year). Participants in the program meet regularly throughout that year to discuss progress on their theses.

The standards for admission, program requirements, and the procedure for evaluation are outlined below.

Informational Meeting

Potential applicants are invited but not required to attend an informational meeting about the program at 5 pm on Monday, March 2nd, 2020 in Room 342 Nau Hall.

Admission to the Program

Unless they intend to graduate early, students apply to the program in the spring of the third year. Students wishing to join the program should first declare a major in the Department, either in Government or Foreign Affairs. Students seeking admission to the DMP should be on track to graduate with Departmental and University grade point averages of 3.4 or above.

Students are encouraged to complete a politics research methods course, such as PLAD 2222, PLAP 4300 or PLAD 4500 before the start of the DMP year. However, we are aware that space in these courses is often limited. Moreover, not every student’s thesis project is forwarded by these courses, and many students may find equally useful research methods courses in other departments.

DMP application materials should be emailed to Prof. Pete Furia at furia@virginia.edu no later than 5PM on Friday, April 3rd, 2020Application materials should include the following:

  • An unofficial copy of your most recent transcript.
  • A three-page (double-spaced) statement explaining your proposed research topic, as well any relevant abilities that you plan to utilize in conducting that research.  The admissions committee will look particularly favorably upon applications that propose a preliminary research question, explain why that research question is of personal and general interest, and discuss practicable methods of answering the question over the course of your thesis year.
  • A one-page list of works relevant to your proposed research question or topic.
  • Two confidential letters of recommendation by faculty members submitted directly to the DMP faculty director, Prof. Pete Furia (furia@virginia.edu).  At least one of these letters should be from among Politics faculty.  Try to familiarize your recommenders with your proposed research so that they might comment on its significance and on your competence to undertake it.

Declared Politics majors should submit complete application files to Pete Furia no later than Friday, April 3rd, 2020. Special arrangements may be made for outstanding transfer students on an ad hoc basis. The admissions committee will begin reviewing files immediately, with the hope of notifying students of decisions by April 15th.

Politics Requirements

Students in the DMP must maintain grade point averages of 3.4 or better, both cumulatively and in the department.

Requirements of the DMP

Students in the DMP must take at least 30 hours in the major. These 30 hours must include:

  • At least twelve hours at the 4000 or 5000 levels (including the six credit hours for the DMP Seminar itself – i.e., PLAD 4960 & PLAD 4961).
  • Courses to satisfy general departmental distribution rules for Government or Foreign Affairs majors.
The DMP Seminar

In the fall semester, members of the DMP will meet regularly to discuss issues related to conceptualizing, researching, and writing social-science theses. In the spring semester, members of the DMP will present their preliminary hypotheses and findings to the seminar.

The DMP Thesis

Students in the DMP are required to write a thesis of high quality, earning six credits, during the fourth year. The thesis seminar, PLAD 4960/PLAD 4961, is a year-long course, carrying six credit hours, with the option of taking the first three credits credit/no credit. Students are responsible for obtaining a faculty member to serve as their thesis advisor for both semesters of the course.

Complete first drafts of theses are typically due during the last week of March.  The final deadline for completed theses, reflecting all revisions, is typically in the third week of April, on a date set each year by the director.

Program Evaluations

Students who successfully complete the requirements of the DMP will be evaluated based on the following: (1) quality of the thesis, (2) overall work in major field of study, (3) overall College record.

Faculty thesis readers will forward evaluations to the Department’s DMP faculty director, who will review the evaluations and students’ records, and forward recommendations to the College Committee on Special Programs.

Superior theses will be nominated by faculty advisors for the Emmerich-Wright Prize, which is given annually to the outstanding thesis.

Where can I find the official academic requirements for the University?

The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found at http://records.ureg.virginia.edu/index.php.


Please direct questions not answered above to Prof. Pete Furia at furia@virginia.edu.

Recent DMP Theses

** Emmerich Wright Prize Winners


Arnold, Vincient
Land of the Resurgent Sun: Japanese Security Policy in the Post-Cold War Era

Baratta, Patrick 
From Investment to Consumption in Higher Income Economies: Implications for Economies in the Middle-Income Trap

Castroparedes, Max
A New More Hopeful Future: James A. Baker and American Foreign Policy in Nicaragua

Lopez, Laura
The Context of Secularism and Religion in American Foreign Policy

Dai, Arnold
Healthcare Please: An Examination of the Effectiveness of the US Affordable Care Act’s Managed Competition Principles Post-mandate Repeal with Regards to Socioeconomic and Geographic Inequality

Grotenhuis, Olivia
The 2008 Beijing Olympics and North Korean Human Rights: Crackdowns on North Korean Refugees in China Between 2002-2008

Libby, Jacob
An Offer You Must Refuse? Understanding Foreign Exploitation of the US Political Finance System

McLaughlin, Will
A Long-Term Study of Small-Town and National Newspapers on Coverage of Presidential Scandal

Merrin, Balthazar 
What does a Gift Buy? The Art of Gift Giving by China and the United States in Africa

Petkosek, Logan 
The Latin American Conservative Wave: A Profile of the Southern Cone Voter

Rose, Lettie 
Association Between Features of Emergency Mental Health Evaluations and Subsequent Civil Commitment Outcomes

Libby, Jacob
An Offer You Must Refuse? Understanding Foreign Exploitation of the US Political Finance System

Williams, Taylor 
A Sealed Fate for Conflict Settlement? The Relationship Between Civil War Grievances and Settlement Type in the Post-Cold War Era


Cook, Alexandra
Community Charitable Food Systems: Analyzing the Role of Charitable Food Organizations in Addressing Charlottesville Food Insecurity

Di Maro, Geremia
Uncivil Discourse: Challenging Conventional Structures of Public Engagement at Charlottesville, Virginia City Council Meetings

Li, Zhuoran
The Chicken Game and the Taiwan Strait Crisis

Lopez, Laura
The Context of Secularism and Religion in American Foreign Policy

Pupatelli, Jayme
Repatriation and Reintegration Policies: The Fate of the Foreign-Born Women & Children of the Caliphate **

Sostre, Corey
Twitter Trump: Influencer of Future Social Media Tactics or a One-Hit Wonder? Examining the Prevalence of Trump’s Twitter Style Among Midterm Congressional Candidates

Wallace, Matthew
A New ‘Era of the Woman?’ A Survey Experiment Relating Women’s Involvement to Attitudes Toward Participation in Contemporary American Politics

Wichtermann, Jenna
Histories of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: How the Israeli Yitzhak Rabin Museum and the Palestinian Yasser Arafat Museum Differ in Their Portrayals of the Conflict’s History


Anderson, Parker
Mass Shootings and Political Sociability: A Survey Experiment

Brake, Jack
Aston Martins and Atom Bombs: Exploring Attitudes on Prestige and Nuclear Weapons

Brough, Rebecca
Who Gets In? The Determinants of refugee recognition rates across 19 OECD Countries**

Davis, Olivia
The Implications of Juvenile Transfer Laws: Sentencing Severity and Deterrence

Genovese, Sarah
The Effect of Citizen Economic Dependence on the State on Authoritarian Regime Durability

Ghazar, Tania
Confronting Crisis: Analyzing the Rhetoric of President George W. Bush and President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi Before and After Major Terror Attacks

Holler, Madeline
The Influence of Periods of Conflict on Child Marriage Rates and Trends in Sub-Saharan Africa

Kraft, Liam
Domestic Politics and Asymmetric Relationships: Insights from Nepal

Parker, Elizabeth
How Do Top Tier Ethnic Lobbies Influence Elections in the United States? Electioneering Efforts Orchestrated by the Pro- and Anti-Engagement Cuba Lobbies

Risberg, Pearl
Filial Piety and the Expansion of China’s Pension Scheme: The interplay of contemporary culture and policy**

Shaeffer, Andrew
Storm the Field or Shut the Blinds: The Impact of Anger and Anxiety Appeals in Political Ads on Voter Turnout**

Smith, William
Why Some Caribbean Nations Create Citizenship by Investment Programs: A Study of Antigua and Barbuda


Anderson, Kara
Islamic Behavioral Radicalization on U.S. Soil: An Analysis of the Profile of Terror and the Generational Divide

Boisjolie, Rachel
The Knowledge Question: Predictors of Political Knowledge in the European Union

Brooks, Brandon
Media Constraints on Wartime Decision-Making:The Other CNN Effect

Gates, Madeline
Judicial Vacancies and the Quality of Judicial Decisions on U.S.Federal District Courts

Griff, Clara
Food Deserts and Food Swamps: An Analysis of Rural Central Virginia Food Insecurity

Gutmann, April
When Hostility Takes Over: Sexism in the 2016 Presidential Election

Hensel, Pascal
Defying the State: How Executive Constraint and State Capacity Affect Pro-Government Militias

Jacobs, Aaron
The Structure of Machine Politics in Virginia, 1930-1965:
An Analysis of Harry Byrd, His Organization, and Byrd’s Correspondence

Keach, Madeleine
Illegal, or Inconvenient? A Comparative Approach to Understanding Central American Asylum Claims

Pulliza, Lucas
A Qualitative Analysis of Presidential Convention Acceptance Speeches from 1960-2016: The Slow Drift Towards Incivility since the 1980s within Presidential Campaign Rhetoric

Wang, Yule
Sowing Uncertainty: Examining Chinese Internet Users’ Self-Censorship Under Government Media Control**

Warren, Brett
Make America Remember Again: Media Coverage of 1940s Japanese vs. 21st Century Muslims


Blair, Christopher
Divergent Trajectories: The Origins of Institutional Capacity and Economic Development in De Facto States

Burden, Jack
Napoleon in Rags: Left-Wing Israeli Civil Society Recruitment in the Era of Neo-Liberalization

Giorno, Taylor
Breaking Through the Echo Chamber: Understanding Factors that Hinder the Enactment of the Uniform Act on Prevention of and Remedies for Human Trafficking (UAPRHT)**

Koolman, Porter
Terrorism and the State: The Implications of State Capacity for Terrorist Groups and Alliance Networks

MacDonnell, Patrick
Binding the Republican Party to the Mast: Conservative Ideological Enforcement and Countering the Siren Calls of Liberalism

Myers, Emma
Será bom para nós e será bom para África: Brazilian diplomatic discourse in Africa

Pritchard, Bethany
In Ten Seconds or Less: Snapchat and Campaign Discourse

Winkler, Sandra
Lessons from Ukraine: Reevaluating Russian Foreign Policy Frameworks


Beeber, Zev Gershon
Examining the Motivational Impacts of Terrorism on Political Leaders: A Thematic Content Analysis of Israeli Political Discourse before and after Terrorist Attacks

Blusiewicz, Jessica Nicole
Multiparty Civil Wars**

Bondoa, Fritz N.
21st Century Mentoring Programs for Black Males: An Analysis of the Principles that Mentoring Programs Promote

Colalillo, Ben Joseph
Outside Spending in U.S. Congressional Campaigns: 2000-2014

Comey, Matthew Lyman
The Politics of Mixed-Income Housing Development: Why American Localities Pursue Policies That Facilitate the Intermingling Of Low-Income and Higher-Income Residents

Ducharme, Madeline Jane
Demographics and Party Preference in the 21st Century

Godbold, Tristan Henry Alaric
Alliances and Hegemony

Kincaid, Matthew James
Advice and Consent in a “Nuclear Senate:” The Historical and Statistical Effects of Filibuster Reform

Korban, Emilie Josette
Transitional Justice, Public Opinion and Trust: A Study of the Effect of Increased Knowledge on Public Attitudes towards Trust and Truth and Reconciliation Commissions

Noronha, Gabriel Luke
Life is Easy between a Rock and a Hard Place: Omni-leveraging and the Effects of Great Power Rivalry on Small States

Shreve, Emma Elizabeth
Civil Legal Aid in the United States: An Examination of its Structure, Emerging Service Strategies, and the Efficacy of Non-monetary Reform


Alley, Katlyn Marie
She’ in Shar’ia: Rape and Marriage in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

Bentall, Nia Leanne
No More Mistress, No More Maid, No More Work That’s Underpaid!” Domestic Worker Organizing Groups and Representation

Chia, Shang Hui
Evaluating Explanations for Applications of Preventive Detention Laws: A Study of the Use of the Internal Security Act in Singapore and Malaysia

Gruber, Samuel Joseph
Implementing Party-State Democracy in China: An Analysis of Existing Policy Measures and Potential Reforms

Hadford, Christina Elizabeth
Family Unfriendly: How Paid Parental Leave and Subsidized Day Care Impact American Mothers

Johnson, Erica B.
Reevaluating The Troubles: Quantifying the Relationship between the IRA, Sinn Féin, and Voter Preferences in Northern Ireland, 1969-1998

Luckey, Taylor Leah
Perceptions of Decline Among American Elites: Charting Declinist Sentiment 1913-Present

Sease, Kasey Marie
John C. Calhoun and Majority Tyranny: An Exploration of a Theoretical Problem in American Politics

Strubler III, Albert Daniel
Redistribution and the Welfare State: An Econometric Approach to Public Social Expenditure and Inequality Reduction in OECD Countries From 1983-2009**

Swick, Melanie Amy
From Domestic to Transnational: Explaining the Strategic Shifts of Non-State Actors

Tosun, Leyla Mariam
Oil, Public Service Provision and Regime Instability: A cross-sectional analysis of the Middle East and North Africa, 1990-2011


Ballagh, Victoria
Measuring Partisanship Trends in the Changing News Media Landscape

Belberova, Radina
Accounting for Intervention Variation in Libya and Darfur: Threshold, Scale and Motivation

Cahill, Andrew
Can Google Docs Support the Global Economy? A Study of the Impact of Information and Communication Technologies on Economic Growth and Productivity

Carullo, Nicholas
India and China: Conflict, Cooperation or Both?

Carrigan, Samuel
What’s So Special About Drones? Illegality, Inefficiency and Blowback

DiCocco, Alexandra
Kazakhstan’s Multi-Vector Foreign Policy: Trends in Relations with Russia, the West, and China

Gallogly, Owen
A Point of Privilege: The History, Consequences, and Future of the Supreme Court’s Privileges or Immunities Jurisprudence

Hopkins, Rachel
Nuclear Deterrence in South Asia: A Comparison Study of the Second Kashmir War and the Kargil Conflict

Reid, Ann
Incentive and Opportunity: Examining Variations in Party Aggregation Success During the Egyptian Parliamentary Elections of 2011

Roos, Eileen
Church and State in Russia: An Analysis of the Russian Orthodox Church as a Lobbying Institution

Snail, Melanie
The Long Revolution: Prospects for Algerian Democratization**