TO:         Sociology Senior Majors
FROM:     Mary Ann Clawson, Chair
RE:         Qualifying for Honors in Sociology

This is the time of year when seniors who qualify for honors should finalize their plans for enrollment in the Honors Program within the Department of Sociology. 

The Honors in Sociology recognizes excellence as displayed through achievement in both the course work undertaken within the department and in the completion of an outstanding senior research project.  Students wishing to be considered for honors must notify, in writing (email, etc.), Sharon Smith ( or Linda Cummings (—the Administrative Assistants who staff the Sociology Office in the PAC.

1. The first step in the process is confirmation that a candidate meets all course-work conditions.  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- average in five courses is sufficient to register as a candidate.  If you’re unsure if you qualify or wish to petition for a waiver, please contact Sharon Smith or Linda Cummings in the Sociology Office.  You should also be in conversation with your major advisor.  In requesting a waiver, you will write a brief explanation of the extenuating circumstances that would warrant authorization of a waiver for the Sociology GPA requirement.  Petitions must be submitted by 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 4.

2. In the second step, candidates choose between the two alternative modes for completion of a senior research project.  Honors may be awarded through two distinct pathways:

Thesis: based on (a) a record of distinction in course work and (b) completion of the two-semester senior thesis seminar, SOC 405/406, culminating in a thesis project which receives a grade of Honors or higher.

Essay: based on (a) a record of distinction in course work, (b) completion of a single-semester (FALL ONLY) senior essay tutorial and a written Senior Essay project judged to be outstanding; and (c) a successful oral defense of the essay.  Essays may be written in SOC 305, through an independent study with a faculty member who has agreed to advise your essay, or in a research course, by prior arrangement.   Only Senior Essays judged to be outstanding will be advanced to the oral defense.

Students who were accepted to the thesis seminar last spring should be sure to enroll during the drop/add period, which will run from Monday, September 2 and ends on Friday, September 13.  If you have any questions, please contact Professor Daniel Long. 

If you hope to write your essay through an independent study or a research course, now, i.e. during the drop-add period, is the time to be talking with potential advisors. 

If you are enrolled in Soc 305 —the Sociology Research Seminar, led by Professor Mary Ann Clawson—and intend to pursue honors, please submit your name and Wes I.D. to the Sociology Office by Monday, September 16, 4:00 p.m.

Further stipulations for the honors essay process are as follows:

  • The final draft must be submitted to the department office by Friday, February 7, 2014.  Based on its evaluation of the essays, the Departmental Honors Committee determines which students move on to the orals stage.  Each student presents and defends the essay at a public forum held during spring semester.  The Oral presentations are ordinarily held in March.
  • Senior theses are due Friday, April 11, 2014.
  • Once again, you should talk to your advisor if you have any questions.


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