To: Rising Senior Sociology Majors
From: Mary Ann Clawson, Chair
Re: Procedures and Guidelines for Fulfillment of Senior Project Requirement
I. The Senior Project Requirement
Senior Research Project: Essay or Thesis.
The Sociology Major culminates in the completion of a senior research project, either an essay or thesis, required for all majors. The senior essay consists of a major research paper (normally at least 25 pages). SOC305 (fall semester) and SOC324 (spring semester) offer structured opportunities for the development of the essay, but it may also be written in a research course or a tutorial. In every case, the essay goes through multiple drafts and substantial revision before its approval.
Qualifying for Honors.
Students are invited to explore with their faculty advisor the possibility of qualifying for honors. Discussion should be initiated in the fall of the junior year. Students interested in the Sociology honors program should obtain a copy of the department guidelines elaborating all of the steps in the process of qualifying for honors. These guidelines are available online and in the Sociology Department office.
To qualify for honors via either route, students must have taken at least 6 courses by the end of the seventh semester. Students must have an A- (91.7) average in those six courses (the so-called SOC GPA), but an A- average in five courses is sufficient to register as a candidate. Preferably SOC202 Sociological Analysis will have been taken by the end of the sixth semester, but SOC212 Sociology and Social Theory may be substituted as long as the student is enrolled for SOC202 in the seventh semester.
All honors candidates must meet the course and SOC GPA requirements but fulfillment of these requirements is not sufficient to guarantee qualification for registration as an honors candidate. Sociology majors who wish to be registered as honors candidates will be considered only after winning the support of an Essay or Thesis advisor. Essay and Thesis advisors will bring before the Sociology Department Faculty a request to register as an honors candidate. Members of the faculty will consider, in light of prior coursework, the promise of each applicant and will determine whether the applicant will be authorized to register as an honors candidate.
The faculty advisor for an honors Essay or Thesis must be a member of the Sociology Department faculty. Sociology Majors with more than one major may—upon consultation with Sociology Major Advisor—petition to have a faculty member from outside the Sociology Department serve as adviser for a Senior Essay or Thesis but the essay will not be considered for Honors by the Department of Sociology.
II. The Honors Program in SociologyThe Honors Program in Sociology recognizes excellence as displayed through achievement in both course work and a senior research project.
Registration for the Sociology Department Honors Program
Any student wishing to be considered for the Honors Program must complete a registration process before the end of the add/drop period at the start of the fall semester of the Senior Year.
First step: Qualifying for Honors
To qualify for honors, a student must have an A- (91.7) average in at least 6 courses taken within the Sociology Department by the end of the seventh semester; however an A- in five courses is sufficient to register as a candidate. Contact your major advisor if you have questions regarding qualifications or if you wish to petition for a waiver of these conditions.
Second step: Find an Advisor
The registration process requires each candidate to identify a member of the Sociology Department faculty willing to serve as thesis/essay advisor in the development and completion of a senior research project. This can be, but need not be, the member of the faculty who serves as your designated major advisor.
Third step: Essay or Thesis?
Registration for the honors program requires that each candidate choose between the two alternative modes for completion of a senior research project.
Fourth Step: Advisor Petition to the Sociology Department Faculty
Essay and Thesis advisors will bring before the Sociology Department faculty a request to register as an honors candidate. Members of the faculty will consider, in light of prior coursework, the promise of each applicant and will determine whether the applicant will be authorized to register as an honors candidate.
Pathways to Honors
Sociology Majors may be awarded Honors through two distinct pathways:
In the Department of Sociology a thesis is a multi-chapter project, commonly an Introduction; Literature Review/Methods; 3 distinct chapters; Conclusion.
A thesis is completed over the course of two semester-long tutorials supervised by a thesis advisor. The thesis advisor need not be the same member of the Department faculty as the Sociology Major advisor. Thesis writers receive a tutorial grade for each semester of the academic year; tutorial grades are independent of the grade awarded for the thesis itself.
Students who might be interested in writing an honors thesis should initiate planning before the end of junior year. In most cases, students who wait until the start of senior year to initiate planning for a thesis will be unsuccessful in the attempt to find a thesis advisor. Members of the faculty rarely agree to advise the theses of writers who have never enrolled in a course with the faculty member.
Evaluation of the Thesis: The thesis advisor asks two members of the faculty to serve as readers of the thesis and the grade awarded for the thesis is calculated entirely on the basis of reader evaluations (in the event of significant divergence between the two readers, a third reader is asked to evaluate the thesis). There is no oral defense for a thesis. Honors will be awarded to a candidate whose thesis receives a grade of Honors or High Honors.
In the Department of Sociology an honors essay is a FALL Semester project written through enrollment in a single-semester tutorial or SOC305.
The essay is submitted to the faculty in February of the spring semester. Based on its evaluation of the essays, the Departmental Honors Committee determines which students move on to the orals stage. Only Senior Essays judged to be outstanding will be advanced to the oral defense. These students then present and defend their essays at a public forum held during spring semester.