Professor Heather Schoenfeld recently contributed to online platform The Conversation in the...
Sociology Honors Thesis
The Departmental Senior Honors Thesis is an opportunity for seniors in Sociology to conduct in-depth research in the major or minor field. It is the most stimulating intellectual enterprise in which an undergraduate can engage, demanding dedication and the ability to exercise independent judgment. Students who successfully produce and defend a senior honors thesis will receive a note of distinction on their diploma and cords to wear on their commencement regalia, recognizing their special achievement.
View the full guidelines for the Sociology Honors Thesis
Who can write a senior thesis?
You must have a minimum overall GPA of 3.0 and 3.3 in Sociology. Thesis writers should complete Research Methods (SO 201) before their senior year.
What does writing a senior honors thesis involve?
The honor’s thesis process begins in the spring of a sociology major’s junior year. All students are required to complete the 4-credit Research Practicum course (SO 400) in the Spring Semester of their Junior year, the 2-credit SO 401 in the Fall of their Senior year, and the 4-credit SO 402 in the Spring of their Senior year. However, students doing a Study Abroad may elect not to sign up for SO 401 credits if that is the semester they will be abroad. No formal coursework is involved for SO 401 and SO 402. These are simply credits assigned to students doing honors theses. However, students receive letter grades for these courses according to the advisors’ evaluation of student progress.
Students will present their resulting thesis paper to a committee of the faculty. The committee will consider both the written thesis and the result of the oral examination to determine whether the student will receive honors in the concentration. Honors theses vary widely in length, depending on the topic, method, and number of appendices, graphics, tables, references, and other materials included in the work. In general, students can anticipate preparing a document of 30-65 pages.
What are the steps to registering for senior honors thesis work?
The first step is to enroll in the Advanced Research Practicum (SO 400) in the spring of your junior year. In this course, you will develop a research proposal, secure a faculty advisor, complete any Human Subjects approval, and prepare to execute your research project in your senior year. Students who will be abroad during the spring semester of their junior year may still be eligible to complete a thesis by developing a research proposal through a directed study with a faculty advisor during the spring semester. Please contact the Senior Program Coordinator to see if this is a feasible option for you.
At the end of your junior year spring semester, you will submit the senior thesis application to the department. In your senior year, you will register for thesis credit hours with your faculty advisor.
What is the deadline for applying?
Deadline for application is May 1st, but only students who have taken the Advanced Research Practicum or the directed study equivalent may apply. Late applications may be considered at the discretion of the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
What are the senior honors courses for which I need to register?
In Fall of your senior year: You will register for SO 401 (Honors Thesis), a 2 credit directed study course with your primary thesis advisor who will continue to work with you on specific details of your project. Please contact Hannah Walters when you connect with your thesis advisor and she will assist you in enrolling in the directed study.
In Spring of your senior year: You will register for SO 402 (Honors thesis). This will consist of 4 credit directed study under the primary supervision of your thesis advisor, culminating in the final draft of the thesis and the oral examination.
How does senior honors thesis work impact my sociology course requirements?
You may substitute SO 400 (Advanced Research Practicum) for one of the two required seminars for graduation in the major. SO 400 can also fulfill one of the ten courses required for the sociology major. If you take a directed study with your advisor in lieu of SO 400 (for example, if you are abroad during spring junior year), you do not receive seminar credit for the directed study.
What grades do I need to receive for SO 400, SO 401, and SO 402 in order to graduate with honors in sociology?
You need to receive a grade of B or higher in SO 400 (Sociology Practicum) to continue into SO 401/402. In the Spring senior semester, you need a grade of B+ or higher for SO 402 (which includes the oral examination and thesis defense).
What happens if I decide, after taking SO 400 in the Fall, that I don’t want to finish the thesis process? Or I receive less than a B for SO 400?
SO 400-402 is intended to be a three semester course of study with the goal of completing a senior honors thesis. However, after consulting with relevant faculty, you may choose to discontinue after taking SO 400. If you have received a grade of C+ or higher in SO 400, you can apply SO 400 towards sociology requirements.
Can a Kilachand Honors College student pursue departmental honors in sociology?
The KHC keystone project and departmental honors can be combined, provided you meet the general requirements for departmental honors, your primary project advisor is a sociology faculty member, and your project is sociological in method and content. The requirement of SO 400 will be waived for students who pass the KHC junior year research seminar with a B or higher, but students do not receive sociology seminar credit for taking the KHC seminar. Please contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies for more on how the keystone project and departmental honors are combined.
Who should I talk to if I have more questions?
You can talk to your faculty advisor in sociology and the Director of Undergraduate Studies. For administrative questions, contact Hannah Walters (firstname.lastname@example.org), Undergraduate Program Coordinator in Sociology.
Examples of previous thesis projects:
- 2013. Dibert, Belva. ‘Shouldn’t These Kids Know How to Change a Flat Tire and Cook a Nice Dinner?’: Deconstructing Gendered Play.
- 2013. Tenuta, Catherine. The New York State Regents: A Measure for Standards or Standardization? A Consideration of the Effects of Testing for Reform.
- 2012, Amos, Lesli. Attributing Responsibility for Corporate Crime in the Media: Examining Different Levels of Analysis.
- 2012. Katz, Ariana. ‘Margins to the Center!’ Diversity and Inclusivity on the University Campus.
- 2007. Blom, Erica. The Nature of Firm Involvement in Water Privatization Contract Provision.
- 2003. Valerio, Emily Patent or Perish: Implications of Technology Transfer on Academic Norms.
The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) facilitates participation by BU undergraduates in faculty-mentored research. UROP can provide financial support to Sociology undergraduates for summer research fellowships, academic year stipends, research supplies, and travel for research or to professional meetings.
The UROP research experience generally involves mentoring of a student project by a faculty member working in his or her area of expertise. Students conduct research either on individual research projects or as part of a larger team. This provides an excellent opportunity to experience sociological research first-hand.
The Department of Sociology at Boston University is pleased to provide undergraduates with the opportunity to apply for modest financial support for independent research on sociological topics. Students may use the funds for research supplies or research travel.
Applications must include a two page description of the research topic, questions, and methods; budget justification; and evidence that the student has applied or external funding, such as for UROP support. In addition, the student must ask a faculty member to provide a short letter of reference indicating their willingness to supervise the project. Preference will be given to applications from Sociology majors and minors.
For research involving human subjects, students should provide evidence of their submission of an application to the Institutional Review Board or of communication with the IRB indicating that the project does not require IRB approval.
Available funds are capped at $500 per student/project. Applications, which will be considered on an ongoing basis, should be submitted electronically to the Department Chair (Dr. Deborah Carr), Director of Undergraduate Studies (Dr. Joseph Harris), and the Undergraduate Program Coordinator (Andrea Inman).