Skip to main content

Secondary navigation:

Honors Program

Sociology Department

The Honors Program in Sociology is designed to give eligible Sociology majors the experience of doing original sociological research culminating in a senior honors thesis. The program includes a three-course, twelve-credit sequence that allows students to work closely with faculty and other students in the program. The courses require the reading of the most engaging classics of sociological research, the designing of the student’s own project, and in the last semester of the senior year, the gathering and analysis of data and subsequent writing and presentation of the thesis.

The Honors program can be linked with other university opportunities. Projects undertaken as advanced study grants, for instance, can evolve into honors projects, and an honors topic by Christa Martens, “Cultural Considerations: An Investigation of Ugandan Patients in the Boston Health Care System,” was inspired in part by her service trip to Uganda. Honors projects can also result in prestigious awards, like the Scholar of the College and the McCarthy Prize, both of which have been won by Sociology majors in recent years. More fundamentally, the experience of developing their own projects helps honors students to think more critically, to learn about their topic of interest in much more detail, and to acquire greater expertise in the process of independent research, all of which are useful both in the job market and in grad school.

The courses required of Honors Program students are:

  1. SC550/SOCY4931 Important Readings in Sociology is usually taken in spring of the junior year. If students accepted to the Honors Program decide to study abroad that spring they will take SC550/SOCY4931 during the spring of their senior year or, in rare cases, in spring of their sophomore year.
  2. SC555/SOCY4961 Senior Honors Thesis Seminar is taken in fall of the senior year. In this class students complete a thesis proposal.
  3. SC556/SOCY4963 Senior Honors Thesis is taken in the spring term of their senior year. The thesis is completed with the guidance of their chosen faculty adviser.

All of these courses meet upper-level course requirements for the major.

The general guideline is that applicants to the Honors Program have achieved, at the least, an overall GPA of 3.50 and a 3.50 GPA in sociology. Because the Honors Program is limited in size, achieving the expected GPAs does not guarantee acceptance. Interested students can pick up an application cover sheet from Professor Paul Gray in McGuinn 429, email


Sample Senior Honors Thesis by Holly K. Unger: Organized Anarchy: a Case Study of the Urban Ecology Institute’s Natural Cities Program*

To read more sociology honors theses, see the library's digital collection.

Thomas Laidley
Scholar of the Collage and McCarthy Prize winner
Thomas Laidley '08
“The Road Paved with Good Intentions: Primed Reactions to Global Warming and the Cognitive Dissonance of American Attitudes”

Patrick Denice
Scholar of the College
Patrick Denice ’08
“A More Conscious Consumer Class? Consumption Patterns of American Students Recently Returned From Abroad”

Abe Cho
Scholar of the College
Abe Cho ’07
“Our Home Is Gone: Homeless Veterans and the Road Back”

Melissa Cox
Scholar of the College
Melissa Cox ’06
“Low-Income Adolescent Mothers and Teen Pregnancy Programs: Do the Services Provide What Young Mothers Seek?”


*Please note: These files are Adobe Acrobat® (PDF) formatted files. To view them you will need the free Adobe Acrobat file reader.