Fisher Family CDDRL Honors Program

Students at commencement

Fisher Family CDDRL Honors Program

About the Undergraduate Honors Program

The Fisher Family CDDRL Honors Program aims to provide an opportunity for eligible seniors focusing on democracy, economic development, and rule of law subjects in any university department to earn honors in democracy, development, and rule of law (DDRL). CDDRL seeks a diverse group of undergraduate majors for the program from any department or interdisciplinary program interested in writing their senior theses on a subject touching upon DDRL with a global impact. Students will work to complete their thesis under the guidance and consultation of CDDRL faculty but may have a primary thesis advisor from their own department. Upon fulfilling individual department course requirements and completing the honors program, the student will graduate in his/her major with a certificate of honors in Democracy, Development, and Rule of Law.

CDDRL Honors Thesis

Read honors theses from alumni of CDDRL's Honors program

Components of the Program
  • Components of the Program
  • Summary of Units
  • Apply
  • Contact Us

Components of the Program

  1. Students apply to the program in the winter quarter of their junior year. Students will be notified of acceptance to the program before spring break.
  2. Students accepted into the program will take a 3-unit CDDRL research seminar in the spring quarter of their junior year. This course will be taught by CDDRL affiliated faculty on a rotating basis. The goal of the seminar is to expose students to different approaches to research, help them to refine their theses topics, and produce a prospectus that asks a clear question, demonstrates familiarity with some of the existing approaches to the question, and then proposes a research design to begin answering the question.
  3. Students will be encouraged to do fieldwork or other forms of original research over the summer prior to their senior year. Some of them may also undertake internships in CDDRL programs like our Summer Fellows Program on Democracy and Development (for development practitioners from around the world and held at CDDRL every summer); or other international internships offered through the Haas Center for Public Service.
  4. CDDRL will hold a CDDRL Honors College every September before fall quarter classes begin. The Honors College will take place in Washington, DC, in order to expose the students directly to the broader development policy community and is fully funded by CDDRL. More information is forthcoming about exact dates.
  5. Students will be required to take POLISCI/INTNLREL 114D, Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, in the fall quarter of their senior years (if they have not taken it previously). This is a 5-unit course.
  6. In the fall and winter quarters of their senior year, the students will be required to participate in the CDDRL honors research workshop with the faculty leader of the program. They may claim 1 to 3 units each quarter for this component of our program. Students will briefly present their thesis research to date and then respond to questions from the group regarding the project and areas where it might be improved. We have found this to be an effective way to encourage students to stick to a deadline and to stimulate them to reconsider aspects of their project once they present it in front of a small audience and receive feedback.
  7. The students will complete their thesis projects no later than the first week of May of their senior year (if they wish to be considered for an award). They will submit their theses for honors to the faculty committee at CDDRL and their respective advisors. They will present their finished work to the CDDRL community at that time.
  8. Upon graduation, students will graduate from their respective departments and receive honors in Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law. CDDRL will also offer an annual prize to the author of the best thesis in the CDDRL program.



Summary of Units

  • POLISCI/INTNLREL 114D: Democracy, Development, and Rule of Law (may be taken in the Fall quarter of senior year)
  • Complete two related courses, such as (these are just suggestions and should serve as examples of courses that explore the areas of DDRL):
    • Comm 137w The Dialogue of Democracy
    • Econ 106 World Food Economy
    • Econ 118 Development Economics
    • History 145B Africa in the 20th Century
    • HumBio 129S Global Public Health
    • POLISCI 147 Comparative Democratic Development
    • POLISCI 245R Politics in Modern Iran
    • POLISCI 248S Latin American Politics
  • Fulfill all course requirements in their individual departments by the time they graduate, in addition to the units required for the honors program.
  • Complete DDRL 189 Honors Research Methods in the spring quarter of their junior year (3 units). Applicants should, therefore, plan quarters abroad accordingly. While some exceptions are made, we encourage students to be on campus during the spring term of their junior year. DDRL 190 Honors Research Workshop (3 units per quarter, repeatable for credit) in the fall and winter quarters of their senior year. In addition to required courses, admitted students may earn up to 10 units through independent study with their advisor during their senior year for their completed thesis. Please note that this will not count toward major requirements in the student’s respective department.
Quarter Class Course # Units
Spring 2023 (Junior)

Honors Research Methods

DDRL 189 3
Fall 2023* (Senior) Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law POLISCI/INTNLREL 114D** 5
Fall 2023 (Senior) Honors Research Workshop DDRL 190 3
Winter 2024 (Senior) Honors Research Workshop DDRL 190 3
Senior Year (optional) Independent Study with your Advisor DDRL 191 1 - 10

*      If not yet taken prior to the start of the Honors Program
**    If this course fulfills a departmental major requirement as well, then the student must take an additional 5-unit course in a related subject area approved by the CDDRL Honors Faculty Director on a case-by-case basis.


Online applications for the 2023-24 academic year will open on January 9, 2023, and will close on February 10, 2023.

Contact Us

Kristin Chandler, Fellowship Coordinator

Encina Hall
616 Jane Stanford Way
Stanford, CA 94305

650-497-1271 |

Experience Honors College Through the Class of 2023

Washington Monument, Washington, United States

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