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Honors Program in Sociology

The Honors Program in Sociology offers students the opportunity to enter the LSA Honors Program through the department and do independent research with the guidance of a Sociology faculty mentor over the course of three terms. The original research culminates in a written thesis paper and students who meet all criteria graduate with honors. Completion of an honors thesis demonstrates discipline, motivation, and exceptional critical thinking skills, as well as strong data collection, analytical, and writing skills to understand and present complex social problems — all assets for which prospective employers and graduate school admissions committees will be looking.

The department hosts an information session on the Honors Program in Sociology in early October each year. Attendees meet the honors faculty coordinator, hear from current honors students, and get all of their questions about the program and application answered. 


Honors Information Session

If you are passionate about a particular social topic and interested in conducting your own research, this is a valuable opportunity – we encourage you to attend the information session below!

Thursday, October 1st, 2020 at 5pm ET. Ask about the event recording!

Current honors students will share their experiences completing an undergraduate thesis. The Honors Faculty Coordinator and Undergraduate Advisor will share suggestions and logistics regarding the application. 

Honors Courses

SOC 497: Proposal Writing
This course, taught by a Sociology faculty member who is serving as the honors coordinator for that cohort, is organized primarily as a workshop. All of the course assignments and activities are designed to help you define a topic for research, develop a research question(s), review the literature relevant to the topic, and specify the methods to be employed in pursuing the research question(s). The first few weeks of the course are an introduction to the range of topics in sociology and the methods of research strategies. Later in the term, you will focus more specifically on the tasks needed to develop your individual research plan and write a research prospectus. SOC 497 is offered only in the winter term. 

SOC 498: Data Collection and Analysis 
In SOC 498, you work directly with a faculty mentor, but the honors coordinator retains a partial mentoring relationship, meeting frequently with the honors students. You will collect research data and begin initial analysis. 

SOC 499: Thesis Writing
In SOC 499, you will complete the analysis of data and write your thesis under the direct supervision of your faculty mentor, with guidance from the honors coordinator. The thesis is evaluated by the faculty mentor and the honors coordinator.

To graduate with honors, you must:

  • meet all general major requirements,
  • complete SOC 497, 498, and 499,
  • satisfactorily complete your thesis,
  • and end your undergraduate career with at least a 3.4 cumulative GPA and 3.5 major GPA.

Upon completion of the above criteria, successful students receive one of the following designations on their diploma: with honors, with high honors, or with highest honors.

Course Planning Information

Prospective honors students should plan on completing SOC 210 or STATS 250 prior to the winter semester of their junior year.

Prospective honors students should take SOC 310 (Methods) no later than the winter semester of their junior year.

As a student in the Honors Program in Sociology, you are required to take:

  • SOC 497 in winter term of your junior year
  • SOC 498 in fall term of your senior year
  • SOC 499 in winter term of your senior year 

All 9 credits from SOC 497, 498, and 499 count toward the Sociology major as upper-level credits. 

Honors Thesis Research Funding

Students in the Honors Program in Sociology can request up to $400 to support their research project for the Honors Thesis. Before requesting these funds, students should review full funding policies and direct questions to the Honors Coordinator or LSA Finance.


At the conclusion of the three course sequence, honors students present their research projects, findings, and analyses at the annual Sociology Honors Symposium in late April. The Robert Cooley Angell Award for the best thesis is also announced at the conclusion of the program. 

The symposium may take place virtually as a part of your 499 class or may take place in-person if larger gatherings and public events are deemed safe. More info TBD; please check back here.

Robert Cooley Angell Award

Robert Cooley Angell (1899-1984) received three degrees from the University of Michigan: a B.A. in 1921, an M.A. in 1922, and a Ph.D. in 1924, joining the faculty in 1922 when the discipline of sociology was included under economics. In 1930, sociology became a separate discipline, and that same year, Angell became an associate professor, gaining full professorship in 1935. Angell’s research focused on the problems of social integration and issues of war and peace. Throughout his life, he exhibited a strong commitment to some of the most persistent values of the University of Michigan: excellence in undergraduate teaching and the advancement of rigorous scientific research on social issues.

To celebrate his commitment to sociology and scholarship, the department annually awards the Robert Cooley Angell Award to the writer of the best honors thesis in Sociology.


To apply to the Honors Program in Sociology, you must:

  • Be a Sociology major
  • Have at least a 3.5 GPA in Sociology courses 
  • Have at least a 3.4 overall GPA
  • Have at least second-semester sophomore class standing 

The application requires:

  • Two to three page essay explaining your journey in the discipline, potential topics of interest for your research, and your future goals
  • Academic writing sample (5-10 pages)
  • Two letters of recommendation from University of Michigan faculty or GSIs (recommendations from Sociology faculty are strongly encouraged)*

*New transfer students (students who recently entered the Sociology major from other institutions or non-LSA schools within U-M) may submit letters of recommendation and transcripts from their previous institutions. These will be given the same weight during the admissions process, but the student’s acceptance to the program will be conditional upon his or her Sociology GPA at the end of the Fall term of the application period.

Applications are due during fall semester of your junior year and the required three course sequence (SOC 497, 498, and 499) begins the next semester (winter).

Honors Application Due Date: Friday, October 30, 2020

Please carefully read the application information sheet linked below for full details.