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-to-three semester program of directed independent research and writing. The program also offers the opportunity for formal recognition, through Departmental Honors, of those undergraduates who have demonstrated unusual competence in sociology by successfully completing a sustained independent research project. Small grants for honors thesis research are generously supported by the Chandler and Ian Davidson Scholars Fund as well as the Walter Hall Scholars program.
To be eligible for the program, students must have:
Students in the Honors Program register for two successive semesters in Directed Honors Research (SOCI 492 and 493). An honors thesis typically involves much discussion over both semesters between the student and their tenure or tenure-track advisor. Students should meet early in the process to agree on ground rules for the project, to choose the other members of the thesis committee (made up of two additional faculty members, who serve as readers and ad-hoc advisors), and to set up a schedule for discussions and submission of written work. It is the department’s experience that students who work alone without much consultation with faculty are less likely to succeed in their project than students who maintain close contact with their advisor and the department. Students are also encouraged to include other members of the committee in discussion of the thesis, especially as the project nears completion, so that their feedback can be incorporated before the final draft of the project is submitted.
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. The research itself is usually carried out in the fall semester of the senior year (and sometimes in the summer following the junior year), and is analyzed, written up, and defended as a completed Honor’s Thesis during the spring semester of the senior year. (Students are encouraged to examine several previously written theses, which are available in the sociology department.)
In addition to the student’s primary advisor, the thesis is read and evaluated by the faculty members, sometimes from other departments, who make up the student’s thesis committee.