Every member of our faculty spends a large portion of their time conducting independent and collaborative social research, and we encourage all students to also get involved in research. There are a broad range of ways to participate in research as part of your undergraduate experience and we describe many of them here, but if you have questions please reach out to the Undergraduate Sociology Advisor.
Independent study courses are designed by the student with a professor who agrees to supervise their work. This course structure provides an opportunity to take a deep-dive into a topic of interest that you would not be able to explore to the same degree within our existing courses. Often these courses include primary research, and usually require writing a substantial final paper. To explore options for an independent study, you first need to develop a clear idea of what topic you are interested in learning more about. Then, you can directly contact professors who would be a good fit to help supervise your work, or you can meet with the Undergraduate Advisor for suggestions about which faculty could potentially assist you. Students interested in a research project that requires more than a semester to complete should check out the department's Honors Program.
Grant Work for Professors
Students can also work with professors on research that is funded by external grant agencies (e.g., National Institute of Health, Russell Sage Foundation). Each project is tailored toward the specific needs of the grant. For example, a student might interview subjects for a data collection project, help to analyze data that is already collected in preparation for publication as a book or in scholarly research journals, or research archival records. While a great learning opportunity, the availability of this kind of research for students fluctuates with the grant activity of the faculty, so inquire with the specific professor you are interested in working with to see if any research assistance is needed.
Senior Honors Thesis
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 developing an independent research project. Students develop a research question and propose a study design in the spring of their junior year, identifying a faculty advisor who can support their research in the proposed area. With the approval of their advisor, students in the Honors Program register for two successive semesters in Directed Honors Research (SOCI 492 and 493). In the fall semester of the senior year (and sometimes in the summer following the junior year) students begin data collection and analysis. Then, in the spring of the senior year students complete analysis, write up their results in the form of a journal article, and defend their completed Honors Thesis in front of the faculty and their peers.
The Community Bridges program at Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research addresses urban inequality and poverty issues by pairing academic study with active fieldwork. Rice undergraduate students who are selected to be Community Bridges fellows simultaneously study the theories of urban sociology in the classroom and undertake internships with nonprofit organization partners to carry out research-driven projects. The program includes fall and spring semester commitments as well as the opportunity for summer fellowships. Learn more about the program and how to apply here: https://kinder.rice.edu/community-bridges
Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF)
OURI Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships, is a program for undergraduates from underrepresented backgrounds who are interested in pursuing supervised research with a Rice faculty member over the summer. No prior research experience is required, and preference will be given to first- and second-year students without previous experience. Students from all disciplines are eligible to apply. Fellows will receive $5000 and are expected to work approximately 30 hours per week on their research project. More information and application details can be found here: https://ouri.rice.edu/research-programs/surf
American Sociological Association (ASA) Honors Program
Honors Program students participate actively in the annual meetings of the ASA, develop important networks with their peers across the nation, and have the opportunity to meet with prominent scholars in the discipline. Participation in the Honors Program provides a significant socialization experience early in the careers of the next generation of sociologists. The application process is competitive, and we encourage students who are interested to speak with the undergraduate advisor before applying. Typically applications are due in the early spring (e.g. February) for participation in the ASA meeting in August. More information can be found at: https://www.asanet.org/honors-program/
Center for Civic Leadership (HART)
The Houston Action Research Team (HART) is a semester-long program composed of small, interdisciplinary teams of Rice undergraduate students working with a community partner to address a social issue. Through a social justice lens, community partners propose a project that the student team will work on collaboratively with the community partner, an assigned faculty advisor, a graduate student advisor, and CCL staff for a project that is grounded in engaged scholarship and ethical engagement. As part of the co-educational model of the CCL, students will have the opportunity to learn and engage with a community partner directly throughout the project development, research, and presentation. You can find more information about HART projects and the application process through the CCL: https://ccl.rice.edu/hart
Rice Undergraduate Scholars Program (RUSP)
The Rice Undergraduate Scholars Program (RUSP) is a two-semester, for-credit program aimed at senior Rice students in all disciplines who are interested in pursuing a research career and planning a one-year senior research project through an honors thesis or independent study. Students attend weekly seminars on topics related to graduate school and research careers across sectors. The program is focused on developing research and presentation skills, an understanding of a research career, and how to apply to graduate school and nationally competitive fellowships. In addition, all students in the program receive funding that may be used for research materials or conference attendance. More information and the application details can be found here: https://ouri.rice.edu/research-programs/rusp
Funding for Undergraduate Conference Travel & Research Presentations
- Chandler and Ian Davidson Scholars Program: This program through the sociology department supports research, publication, and presentation opportunities for our majors who are conducting independent research projects. Students completing a senior honors thesis are eligible to apply for support, but students completing other kinds of independent research projects are also welcome to apply. Note that research conducted for faculty, or research for which a faculty member will be a co-author, is not eligible. In a typical year, the department supports multiple students from this fund.
- Gateway Research Travel Grants: Gateway awards travel grants of up to $1500 (depending on availability of funds) to undergraduate social sciences majors who are presenting a paper or a poster at an academic conference. Proposals are accepted on a rolling basis. Each student may receive this award a maximum of two times during their undergraduate career at Rice.
- OURI Undergraduate Conference Funding: The Office of Undergraduate Research and Inquiry is offering grants to cover the costs of virtual or in-person conference participation. Grants can cover registration fees and/or associated travel costs. Up to $500 is available for students who are attending a conference to present research or design (poster session or oral presentation). Up to $100 is available for students only attending. You may apply before your conference or retroactively for reimbursement, though grants are not guaranteed.
Additional Research, Internship & Practicum Opportunities
- Century Scholars (Incoming Freshmen Only)
- Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows Program
- Leadership Rice Mentorship Experience
- Gateway Professional Practica: Consulting or Banking & Finance
- Center for Civic Leadership Scholarship/Fellowship
- Legal and Judicial Practicum
- Center for Career Development