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The College Honors Program offers exceptional students the opportunity to do independent research, which mainly involves completing a research thesis over the course of the senior year. Successful completion of this program (and the thesis itself) also enables these students to graduate with honors -- be it with "honors," "high honors" or "highest 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 Emory Sociology, we strongly encourage our best students to consider applying to this the program and we are committed to supporting honors students' research.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Honors Program

  • Am I eligible for the honors program?

    You are eligible to apply for the program if you meet the following criteria:
    1. You declared sociology as your major no later than the beginning of the junior year.
    2. You have an overall GPA of at least 3.7 after Fall Semester of the junior year.
    3. You have maintained this GPA minimum Spring Semester of the junior year. Any acceptance to the program will be contingent on spring grades.
  • When will I be told that I am eligible for the honors program?

    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 are the main requirements of the honors program in Emory Sociology?

    There are three requirements that are key for completion of the honors program in Emory Sociology.

    1. First, you must take one Emory Sociology graduate course, either in the Fall Semester or in the Spring Semester. 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.
    2. Second, you must complete an honors thesis -- an empirical research paper written under the supervision of a faculty advisor and with the final approval of a thesis committee. The next questions in the FAQs deal specifically with the thesis itself, as well as the advisor and the committee.
    3. Third, you must be enrolled in SOC 495A in the Fall Semester and SOC 495B in the Spring Semester. These are not classes in the usual sense, but instead, are the credit hours you earn for working on your thesis.
  • What is an honors 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.

    The topic of a thesis can be inspired by material you have encountered in one of your Emory Sociology classes (which has been the case for many theses in recent years). The topic is also one that you will discuss closely with your thesis advisor.

  • What other people play a role in the thesis?

    Your honors advisor, a sociology faculty member, is the most important person. This is the person who will help you define and refine the topic of your thesis, and this is the person who will also supervise and instruct you regarding how to compete the thesis itself. 

    Your honors advisor will also 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 does the honors thesis itself actually involve?

    Your actual research normally starts by brainstorming with your faculty honors advisor and reviewing literaturerelevant to the issues that interest you. Formulating your research question, 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 question(s). 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.

  • Can I see past honors theses completed by Emory Sociology students?

    Yes, you can.

    First, go here to see the author name and thesis name for past theses. Then pick one that you find especially interesting.

    Then, do the following:

    • Go to Woodruff Library online database
    • Enter the author name or thesis title in the search field
    • Hit Search
    • Select “Link to resource”
    • A pdf version should appear at bottom of page (and may require permission from author to view)
  • What is the honors thesis "defense?"

    The defense represents the culmination of your honors program.

    It is at this defense that the honors committee as a group will decide on quality of your thesis -- whether it passes and, if so, whether it passes with "honors," "high honors," or "highest honors."

    The defense and the evaluation occurs after each member read a (final) draft of your thesis in the Spring Semester of your senior year. Following that period of reading, you and the thesis committee will gather for the defense -- an event in which you offer a presentation of your thesis, as well as field questions from the committee members. 

    Of course, your honors advisor plays an important role in preparing you for this defense. 

    While "defense" sounds ominous, the event is often an enjoyable and celebratory one for those who have crafted a fine thesis and are well prepared for the defense. There again, an honors advisor plays key roles in helping both of these positive outcomes.

  • Is the defense the last thing I do?

    Successful completion of the honors thesis means that you and your advisor will also gather with the other students and advisors for the Honors Ceremony that occurs on the Sunday before graduation. This offers a chance for you and your family / friends to celebrate your accomplishments. Indeed, that ceremony is one of the highlights of commencement weekend.

  • What is the typical timeline for completion of the honors program?

    Prior to Working on the Thesis (e.g., Spring / Summer)
    • Complete honors application via Dr. Jeff Mullis
    • Register for SOC 495A (honors) with approval for Fall Semester
    • Enroll in Emory Sociology graduate course for Fall Semester with permission from the graduate faculty
    Early Fall of Senior Year
    • Take Emory Sociology graduate course
    • Begin review of literature
    • Formulate research question
    • Finalize data source or data collection methods
    • Submit to IRB (if applicable)
    Late Fall
    • Write the proposal
    • Begin empirical research / data collection
    • Enroll in SOC 495B (honors) for Spring Semester
    Fall / Early Spring
    • Finish the empirical research and analysis
    • Begin writing the thesis
    • Can complete Sociology graduate course if not completed in Fall semester
    Mid Spring
    • Finish writing the thesis
    Late Spring
    • Defend the thesis
    Commencement Weekend
    • Participate in the Honors Ceremony on Sunday
  • What if I have additional questions not covered in the FAQs?

    For more information, please contact our Director of Undergraduate Studies, Dr. Jeff Mullis, at or at 404-727-0181.

    Your thesis advisor will also be an important source of information.