NPSA Awards

Every year, NPSA gives a series of Best Paper Awards, including the Best Faculty Paper and the Best Graduate Student Paper presented at the previous conference. The Theory Section has a separate McWilliams Award which goes to the best paper in the subfield of Political Theory. There are also two awards on gender and identity and two student travel grants.

Click here for Past NPSA Awards

Best Paper Awards

The Process:  At every NPSA conference, Panel Chairs are asked to nominate a paper for consideration for an Award and to submit the nominated paper to a committee of faculty members which evaluates all contending papers and designates the winner in each category. 

The Criteria: The Award Committees look for a winning paper that is well written, addresses new theoretical grounds, or makes an important contribution to the discipline and is relevant to the political process. 

Some of these Awards are funded by sponsors, but others are not and need your support. See the call for donations at the end of this page.


The Polity Prize — $500

The editorial team of NPSA’s journal, Polity, chooses one research article published in the journal in the previous year to receive the Polity Prize.

NPSA/Pi Sigma Alpha Best Paper – $250

The Pi Sigma Alpha Award is given annually for the best paper presented at the previous year’s annual meeting. The award is supported by Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society.

Lanahan Best Graduate Student Paper – $250

The NPSA fully supports up and coming scholars and scholarship with the Lanahan Award which is given annually for the best paper presented by a graduate student at the previous year’s annual meeting. The Award is supported by Lanahan Publishers, a longtime friend and supporter of NPSA.

The McWilliams Best Faculty Paper (Theory) – $100 *

The McWilliams Best Grad Student Paper (Theory) – $100 *

Wilson Carey McWilliams, or Carey as he was known, was a regular fixture at NPSA meetings. He was inspiration and mentor to many students and practicing political theorists. A dedicated, student-friendly, and engaging teacher, he demonstrated the relevance of political theory to a generation when “relevance” was the critical question. Unusual for a senior faculty member at a major research institution, Rutgers University, Carey was committed to the collegiality of regional meetings, particularly the Northeastern. When he wasn’t giving one of his well-attended and riveting presentations at the Northeastern, Carey could be found at a large table in the hotel bar surrounded by a captive audience of students and faculty. Even those political theorists who weren’t his acolytes or professional acquaintances benefited from the legitimacy Carey brought to the study of political theory. In honor of his commitment to the role of both students and faculty in the study of political theory, NPSA has created two political theory paper awards, one for the best student paper, and one for the best faculty paper. To learn more about him, click on this Google search result.

Best Paper on Gender Issues – $100 *

NPSA is committed to promoting a professional and academic environment that encourages participation by all members of our community. To that end, the NPSA created this Best Paper on Gender Award to encourage scholarship on issues of gender.

Best Paper on Identity Issues – $100 *

NPSA supports research in the often understudied areas of gender, race, and ethnicity in relation to power both within and outside political institutions. Of particular interest are papers focusing on how these factors (and possible intersections) affect political leadership, representation, and public policies in the United States and beyond. All methodological perspectives are welcome.   

Graduate Student Travel Grants – $150 *

NPSA offers two $150 travel grants to graduate students attending and presenting at the conference. Recipients are selected through a random draw at the conference.


Donations are Welcome

The Awards indicated with (*) do not have sponsors and are funded solely by the NPSA general fund which is limited. Donations are needed to continue funding these awards and, ideally, to create one award for each section of the conference, and increase the awarded amounts. Non-specified giving is greatly appreciated.  To donate to the Friends of NPSA any amount, click here.  Since Friends of NPSA is a registered 501 c3 non-profit organization, donations may be tax-deductible to the extent allowed by the Internal Revenue Service.