Sociology Honors Program

The goal of the sociology honors program is to give those students with superior interests and talents in the field to explore both sociology and personal intellectual interests and themes beyond the limits of typical courses offered. This will prepare these advanced students for possible graduate work or more advanced career prospects. Successful completion of the honors program is shown on the student's permanent academic record and on the diploma.

Eligibility and Admission

To qualify for the honors program in sociology, a student should have:

  1. 18.5 or more units completed overall
  2. At least a 3.30 cumulative grade point average for all courses
  3. Excluding coursework primarily for first-year students, 4 or more units completed with distinction in the major field and a 3.5 cumulative grade point average for sociology courses.

To enter the honors program, the student must submit a letter of intent, with nominating support from one faculty member, by March 15 of his or her junior year. These materials must be submitted to the department's honors committee coordinator for inspection, after which the chairperson and student discuss the details and demands of the honors program.

A student who does not meet these qualifications may be admitted to the program with the special recommendation of the department and the approval of the faculty committee on the honors program.

Students may request consideration by their department, or the department may invite a student to apply.

Program of Study

To receive credit for the honors program, the student must:

  • Fulfill the normal BA requirements for sociology, with required Theory & Methods courses (Sociology 221 and 211) completed by the end of the junior year to facilitate work on the senior thesis (see below). There are two additional upper-level one-unit courses (one of which can be outside the department and must be related to the topic of the senior thesis), and independent study for the senior thesis (see below), to be completed by the end of the senior year. (This will allow juniors with a clear program of study to take a useful course that might not be offered in his or her senior year.) The program of study for Honors is 12 units (10 units for the BA + 2 units for Honors Independent Study).
  • Complete a senior thesis that addresses an original question or issue and that produces some original research (so as not to be a pure literature review of existing work). The thesis should be data-driven and demonstrate a grasp of existing literature and theory related to the issue at hand. While the senior thesis need not explicitly test sociological theory, it should engage relevant theory and not be purely empirical (although a purely empirical thesis is permissible if the student's advisor deems the project of having scholarly value). In preparation for undertaking the senior thesis, the student must agree with a faculty member, whose interests and expertise have the best possible fit with the student's intended thesis topic, to be his or her advisor for the thesis. The student and advisor should devise a basic plan for the project by the end of the spring semester of the junior year.
  • For credit for the thesis, the student will take two one-unit Honors courses in the senior year, both involving work on the senior thesis: Honors Independent Study (autumn) and Honors Thesis (spring). This will involve at a minimum meeting once a week with the thesis supervisor to discuss and monitor progress in data collection, analysis, and write-up. (The former will involve monitoring and assessing progress in data collection and analysis through regular reports-the timetable depending on the particular project, in agreement with the student and advisor. Assessment for the latter will be the thesis product itself.) The thesis will be due in time for a final grade to be submitted to the registrar-preferably the Friday before the School of Arts & Sciences Student Symposium (April). The grade for the independent study is that for the senior thesis. The department encourages students who are prepared sufficiently early to apply for a University summer grant to facilitate research. This 2-unit combination is in addition to the 10 units required for the sociology BA.
  • The senior thesis will be assessed and graded by the student's thesis advisor and the chair of the honors program. If one person fulfills both these roles, an outside person whose expertise is sufficiently close to the thesis topic will be asked to aid with assessment. In case of disagreement, another member of the department will be asked for his/her opinion on the appropriate grade to resolve the disagreement.
  • The student must take two standard one-unit upper-level courses for honors credit that include additional extra work agreed upon by the student, the course instructor, and the Honors program coordinator. One of those must be related to the intended senior thesis topic. This one course may be in any department, but in any case it should meet with the approval of the student's thesis advisor or Honors Program chair.

The student may withdraw at any time. Should he/she not complete required additional work or maintain an overall 3.3 grade point average and a 3.5 grade point average for sociology coursework, the student will not receive credit for the honors program, and the department will submit a request for withdrawal to the faculty committee on the honors program.

The department will encourage students in their junior year who appear qualified to consider the Honors Program seriously as soon as possible, to facilitate preparation for the senior thesis and any required summer work/research.

The Honors program coordinator will meet with participating students no less frequently than one time per month (or via e-mail or other means of communication in the summer) to assess progress. The student and his/her advisor should develop a schedule for meetings and assessment they find most appropriate.