The Honors Program in Sociology
The College Honors Program offers exceptional students the opportunity to do independent research, write a thesis, and graduate with honors. For many who complete the program, it is one of the highlights of their careers as undergraduates, a learning experience that adds significantly to their research skills. In the Sociology Department, we strongly encourage our best students to consider applying to this the program and we are committed to supporting honors students' research. In this pamphlet, we try to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about our program.
Frequently asked questions about our program are below.
Am I Eligible?
You are eligible to apply for the program if you have the following:
- Declared sociology as your major no later than the beginning of junior year.
- An overall GPA of at least 3.5 after fall semester of junior year.
- A sociology major GPA of at least 3.7 after fall semester of junior year.
- You must maintain these GPA minimums spring semester of junior year; any acceptance to the program will be contingent on spring grades.
At the beginning of the spring semester of the junior year, eligible students (i.e., those with sufficiently high GPAs overall and within the major) are contacted and informed about the application process for the honors program.
What Does It Involve?
Your actual research normally starts by brainstorming with your faculty honors advisor and reviewing literature relevant to the issues that interest you. Formulating your research questions, in a manner that is both interesting and manageable, often is one of the greatest challenges in honors research. The first months of the Fall semester senior year are usually devoted to this, but you should get started in the summer before your senior year if you can.
Once you have examined the literature and focused your interests you will then write a thesis proposal outlining how you will collect and/or analyze evidence you need to address your research questions. The proposal can take different forms depending on the nature of the project, but minimally you should state your research questions, describe your sources of evidence and methods for collecting and analyzing them, and develop a plan for completing the actual work involved.
This proposal must be approved by your faculty honors advisor no later than the end of the Fall semester senior year. Your faculty advisor normally considers both the sociological merits and the feasibility of the project.
After completing the proposal, you will carry out your research and analysis, which you must finish by March.
The final stage of the process is the writing of the thesis itself, which should be ready to be defended before your honors committee by early April. The actual format, length, and content of the thesis may vary, depending on your project. In most cases, we encourage students to aim for a long research article, but other formats may be appropriate as well.
In addition to the thesis work, you also must take one Sociology graduate course, either in the Fall or in the Spring. Ideally, this course will be related to the substance of your work. We also strongly recommend taking SOC 500: Research Method-Statistics or another graduate methods class in your senior year.
Who Is Involved?
Your honors advisor, a sociology faculty member, is the most important person. This faculty honors advisor will help you form an honors committee consisting of the honors advisor, another sociology professor, and one faculty member from another department. The names of your honors committee members and a project title must be submitted to Dr. Mullis at the beginning of March.
What Is a Thesis?
A thesis is the final document that results from your research. It usually contains a statement of your research questions, a review of relevant literature, a description of your data source and methods, an analysis of the empirical evidence, and discussion and conclusions. It may take the form of a long research article or a more extended narrative of historical analysis. Your research methods also may vary, depending on the nature of the questions you want to examine.
The length of a thesis varies from about 30 to 100 pages, depending on your topic and methods. Recent thesis topics factors associated with prescription drug abuse in an undergraduate population; the relationship between SES, cultural capital, and the transition to college; an analysis of the anti-globalization movement; upward mobility among women who are raised in female-headed families; the effects of cognitive and cultural factors on racial and ethnic self-segregation; and psychiatrists' and psychologists' perceptions of juvenile bipolar disorder. Feel free to take a look at recent theses, either at Woodruff Library or in the Sociology Department Office, 225 Tarbutton Hall (see Neema Oliver to view copies).
What Is Required?
- Faculty honors advisor approval of the proposal by end of Fall semester of senior year.
- Successful completion and defense of a thesis by April of senior year.
- Pass one graduate course.
- Maintain overall 3.5 GPA, and 3.7 Sociology GPA.
- Register for SOC 495A in Fall and 495B in Spring.
What is the Schedule?
begin review of literature; formulate research questions; finalize data source or data collection methods; submit to IRB (if applicable)
write the proposal; begin empirical research/data collection (if applicable)
finish the empirical research and analysis; begin writing the thesis
finish writing the thesis
defend the thesis
For more information, please contact:
Dr. Jeff Mullis (or your faculty major adviser)
Sociology Peer Mentors for students' perspectives on the program.