Honors Thesis Program

The Honors Program is designed to provide sociology majors with the opportunity to sharpen their research skills and deepen their understanding of the discipline through a two-semester program of directed independent research and writing. Small grants to support honors thesis research are available through the Chandler and Ian Davidson Scholars Program.


To be eligible for the program, students must have:

  • Taken at least four sociology courses beyond SOCI 101 (Introduction to Sociology), including SOCI 381 (Research Methods). If their project requires statistical analysis, students should also complete SOCI 382 or SOSC 302 (Statistics) before beginning their research.
  • An A- average in all sociology courses taken.

Application Process

  1. During their junior year, students should consult with members of the faculty about a potential thesis topic. Through these conversations students should both narrow their research question, and identify a faculty member who is willing to serve as their thesis advisor. The student will then work with their thesis advisor to develop a full research proposal of their proposed honors thesis project.
  2. Once a thesis advisor has been identified and has approved a student’s project, the thesis proposal should be submitted to the Sociology Undergraduate Advisor by April 1st of the student’s junior year. The proposal should be 3-5 pages in length. Use this template. Make sure the proposal includes a signature from the faculty advisor indicating their approval.
  3. The Undergraduate Advisor and Sociology Undergraduate Committee will evaluate the merits of the proposed thesis projects, and provide official departmental approval in coordination with the advising faculty. Some students may be asked to make revisions to their proposals before final approval. If approved, the student may register for the Directed Honors Research course (SOCI 492) in the fall of their senior year under the supervision of their advisor, and may begin work on their thesis with permission and support of their thesis advisor.


Students in the Honors Program register for two successive semesters in Directed Honors Research (SOCI 492 and 493). As part of this course, students meet regularly with the other thesis writers and the faculty member overseeing the honors thesis program (typically the Undergraduate Advisor). Students should also schedule regular meetings with their thesis advisor.

Together with their advisor, the student should plan a timeline for the completion of data collection, analysis, and the submission of written work. This timeline should include the deadline for when the thesis draft will be sent to the second-reader on the student’s thesis committee. All students must have at least one tenured or tenure-track faculty member in the Sociology Department as part of their thesis committee (advisor or second-reader), but the second reader may be external to the department. In addition, we encourage thesis writers to block off time in their weekly schedule to work on their thesis, as though it was a regularly scheduled class. This helps ensure that students have the bandwidth to make consistent progress throughout the year.

Students normally begin by conducting a thorough review of the relevant literature, formulating hypotheses that grow out of the literature review, and proposing a research design that clearly describes how the data for the project are to be collected and analyzed. Students will then work with their advisor to complete an IRB application for their research project over the summer between their junior and senior year, so they are prepared to begin work in the fall. The research itself is typically carried out in the fall semester of the senior year. Then, in the spring semester, the data is fully analyzed, and students write up their thesis into the same format as a journal article. The finalized thesis is read and evaluated by the advisor and second reader, and then students present their work as part of an oral defense at the end of the spring semester in front of the sociology faculty and their peers.

Program Timeline

  • Interested students are encouraged to attend an informational meeting in the spring semester of their junior year (typically in January or February).
  • Students must submit a thesis proposal to the Undergraduate Advisor by April 1st of their junior year (including approval from a faculty member who will serve as their thesis advisor).
  • Students will get approval from the Undergraduate Advisor and Committee by the end of the spring semester and can start their research as early as the summer (in consultation with their advisor).
  • Over the summer before their senior year students should complete the CITI Training for Behavioral/Social Sciences and Responsible Conduct of Research. Then, they should coordinate with their advisor to begin preparing materials to submit an IRB application for their study.
  • Data collection and early data analysis should be completed in the fall semester.
  • A first draft of the final thesis must be turned in to the thesis advisor and second-reader no later than March 1st of the student’s senior year.
  • After receiving feedback on the project, the student will have until April 1st to submit a final draft of the senior thesis to their committee.
  • A short presentation (10-15 minutes) of the final thesis project must be given to the full sociology faculty by the end of the spring semester. The official date will be coordinated with the thesis writers for that year. Advisors and the faculty will evaluate each thesis based on the written document and the oral presentation to determine if the student passes to receive departmental honors.