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Senior Thesis + Honors Program

The Senior Thesis + Honors Program in Sociology offers students the structure and resources to investigate a social issue they are passionate about with the guidance of a faculty mentor over the course of three terms via SOC 497, SOC 498, and SOC 499. Students may request up to $400 in funding to conduct original research. The research culminates in a written thesis paper and students who meet LSA Honors Program criteria graduate with honors, though graduating with honors is not required to complete the program.

Completion of a senior thesis demonstrates discipline, motivation, and critical thinking skills, as well as strong data collection, analytical, and writing proficiencies 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 program in early October each year. Attendees meet the faculty coordinator, hear from current students, and get all of their questions about the program and application answered. 


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!

TBD for 2022

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

Three Course Sequence

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.

If you do not meet the GPA requirements, note that you may still complete a senior thesis; your degree will simply not be designated with honors upon graduation. 

Course Planning

Prospective students should complete SOC 210 or STATS 250 prior to the winter semester of their junior year. We strongly recommend taking SOC 310 (Methods) no later than the winter semester of junior year.

As a student in the Senior Thesis + 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. 

Research Funding

Students in the Senior Thesis + Honors Program in Sociology may request up to $400 to support their research project. 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, students present their research projects, findings, and analyses at the annual Senior Thesis Symposium at the end of April. The Robert Cooley Angell Award for the best thesis is also announced at the conclusion of the program. 

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 thesis in Sociology.


To apply to the Senior Thesis + Honors Program in Sociology, you must be a Sociology major and have at least second-semester sophomore class standing. We encourage all juniors who are passionate about a specific topic and motivated to conduct original research to apply!

The application requires:

  • A statement explaining your journey in the discipline, potential topics of interest for your research, and your future goals
  • One academic writing sample 
  • One academic letter of recommendation from a University of Michigan faculty or GSI (recommendation from Sociology faculty are encouraged)*

*New transfer students (students who recently entered the Sociology major from other institutions or non-LSA schools within U-M) may submit a letter of recommendation and transcripts from their previous institutions. 

Applications are due during Fall semester of junior year and the required three course sequence (SOC 497, 498, and 499) begins the following semester (Winter term of junior year).

Honors Application Due Date: November 1, 2022

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