Political Science Fellowships (Lincoln, Madison, Marshall)

Fellowships support undergraduate research on subjects related to the principles and foundations of American democracy and can be in political theory, American political thought, public law or American government. Fellows complete a significant piece of original research (25-30 pages), and participate in the Tocqueville Forum spring seminar (POLS 497, one-credit course). The projects fellows complete can serve as the basis of honors theses in the Department of Political Science or University Honors (or both) and ought to be strong enough to present at Undergraduate Research and Artistry Day or as a writing sample for applications to graduate school. Fellows must present their fellowship research at Undergraduate Research and Artistry Day (URAD) and prepare a shortened version (approximately 1500 words) for publication in the Forum supported online undergraduate journal Compass: An Undergraduate Journal of American Political Ideas.

Each fellow will receive a $500 stipend and the designation of Justice and Democracy Scholars for taking the special undergraduate seminar in spring, along with $300 stipend (or, in lieu of this, whatever experiential learning opportunity is provided for the whole class) and up to $100 in course books for this seminar. In addition, fellows are eligible to apply for extra research funds supported by the Tocqueville Forum Research Fund.

Franklin Fellowship for University Honors StudentsBenjamin Franklin

The Tocqueville Forum, in partnership with University Honors, is pleased to offer a research fellowship inspired by Benjamin Franklin’s life and work. Franklin, founding father, inventor, scientist, author and more, encourages us to look at the theme of American democracy across disciplines.

As with the fellowships offered through political science, the Franklin fellow will produce a research paper and participate in the POLS 497 special seminar in spring 2019. All requirements and expectations are the same (see above), as are the application process and deadlines (see below). Please contact Todd Gilson tgilson@niu.edu or Andrea Radasanu aradasanu@niu.edu for more information.

Application Process for Fellowships

Please submit a one-page description of your proposed research paper. In advance of submitting your proposal for research, please contact the faculty member you intend to work with and secure his/her commitment to serve as your advisor. Note with whom you will be working.

Identify which of the fellowships you are applying for. Lincoln fellows work on American government, Madison fellows work on political theory or American political thought, Marshall fellows work on public law and Franklin fellows work on issues of American democracy from a non-political science perspective (e.g., historical, literary, cultural, economic, scientific, entrepreneurial, etc.).

In addition, please also provide a one-page letter of intent in which you identify the reasons you are interested in this opportunity, and what relevant skills and accomplishments make you well-suited to succeed as a fellow. As you draft this statement, bear in mind that the fellowship involves a major research project (including presenting it at URAD and preparing a shortened version for the online journal Compass) and the five-class one-credit seminar in spring 2019. All of the responsibilities tied to the fellowship are carried out in spring 2018.

Should selected fellows not carry out all the stipulated responsibilities, stipends and other privileges that come with the fellowships will be forfeited.

Feel free to contact Dr. Radasanu, Tocqueville Forum Director, for guidance in completing your application materials.

Deadline: November 16th, 2018, 5 p.m. in Zulauf Hall 415 to pols@niu.edu (Lincoln, Madison, Marshall applications) and Todd Gilson (Franklin applications), University Honors office.

Past Fellows

"Taking part in the Madison Fellowship was a fitting end to my college career. It allowed me to utilize the analytical skills, writing abilities, and research knowledge that I had acquired during the preceding years, and to do so while carrying out a largely independent project. After writing my paper, I feel that I have a much better idea of the work and thought that goes into graduate-level research. I was also able to learn a lot about an area that I am very interested in and might continue studying in the future. The fellowship was an altogether great experience that I would highly recommend to anyone looking to delve deeply into a topic and gain valuable research experience.” (Paper: Herzen’s on Political Liberty)

"My experience as a Lincoln fellow through the Tocqueville Forum awarded me the opportunity to continue my research and gain a better understanding of immigration policy. The Lincoln fellowship allowed me to travel to Washington DC meet with staff on Capitol Hill and to visit the library of Congress. This fellowship allowed me to improve my critical thinking skills for my research project and for my Honors capstone project. This research opportunity was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had at NIU and I am glad I was chosen. I highly recommend this opportunity for future students, it not only helped me solidify my research, but it also improved my resume.” (Paper: Immigration Policy in the United States)

"The Franklin Fellowship has provided me with the skills and experience I need to pursue a law degree. Through this program I have enhanced my reading, writing, and analytical skills. I have also learned time management, discipline, and independence. Through this program I developed a strong passion for my topic, and it has helped me decide my career path. The Franklin Fellowship is a great addition to NIU undergraduate research. It gives students the ability to create graduate level work as an undergraduate, which creates more competitive candidates for post-baccalaureate studies.” (Paper: The Bracero Program: The Bi-National Migrant Labor Agreement 1942-1964)

"My experience as the recipient of the 2017 Madison Fellowship has been absolutely indispensable in helping me prepare for graduate school and my future career. The fellowship afforded me the opportunity to pursue a line of research I am very excited about and intend to follow further. Taking the time to work largely independently on an original research project was, no doubt, the most challenging and rewarding experience of my undergraduate studies. The critical thinking skills and discipline cultivated through the completion of this project have in turn imparted a strong sense of confidence in the value of my education that would, perhaps, be otherwise absent. Not only did participation in this program facilitate the conducting of my research, but, through the sponsorship of the NIU D.C. Spring Break Trip, it connected me to professionals interested in my work with whom I was able to discuss it further." (Paper: The Limits of Liberal Optimism: Constraints and Prospects of a Commercial Peace)

“The Lincoln fellowship provided me with the opportunity to expand my horizon and conduct an extensive research project. As a senior going into the master’s program next semester, this was an invaluable opportunity to get some experience on what is to come in graduate school. The fellowship not only helped me hone my writing skills and develop stronger research methods, but improved my time management skills. This program is a great undergraduate opportunity that has helped to solidify my interest in the field of political science.” (Paper: Congressional Funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs: Effects of Partisanship and Veteran Status)

The Marshall Fellowship provided me with the experience and resources to conduct archival research in the Library of Congress on a topic related to my career path. As a sophomore, I have developed a strong sense of intellectual curiosity about my field of study and that is typically something most students do not begin to develop until their senior year or even graduate school. I have not only developed stronger analytical and research skills, but also the self-discipline and perseverance to complete a project as in depth as a senior thesis. This research program is truly unique to NIU and has greatly enhanced my undergraduate education and portfolio for law school. (Paper: Do Pregnant Women Have the Right to Work? A History of the Supreme Court and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978).

“As a recipient of the Lincoln Fellowship, I had the opportunity to do my very first, serious undergraduate research project. The fellowship allowed me to choose a research topic that I was interested in, study it at my own pace, and expose me to what research papers will be like on the graduate level. In addition to the research, the fellowship gave me the opportunity to explore Washington, D.C., in depth, solidifying my interest in working in government.” (Paper: Lincoln and the Rule of Law).

"The Lincoln Fellowship provided me with the resources, support, and direction to successfully conduct an undergraduate research project. Undergraduate research has led me to unique opportunities at and outside of NIU, all of which contribute to my experience as an undergraduate student, and as a prospective law student. Participating in an original research project is not only essential for law school admissions today, but it also challenged me to a higher level of thinking, which benefited me academically in other classes." –Kiran Gill (Paper: Ideology and Job Choice of U.S. Supreme Court Law Clerks).

“As a recipient of the Madison Fellowship, my research experience was both challenging and rewarding. The fellowship guidelines were flexible enough for me to pursue a research topic that I was personally interested in, and my faculty advisor was available at all times to guide me through the research process. My advisor was aware that I was planning to go on to graduate school, and he challenged me to produce a research paper that would be similar in quality to a graduate-level thesis. The experience not only provided me with the ability to research a topic that I was genuinely interested in, but it also left me fully prepared for the kind of academic work that I am now engaged in as a graduate assistant.” –Lewis Hoss (Paper: Prophets and Religion in Machiavelli’s Republicanism).

Contact Us

Department of Political Science
Zulauf Hall 415
Phone: 815-753-1011
Fax: 815-753-6302