Honors Program

The Honors Program in Sociology combines one of the best features of a liberal arts college with those of a major research university by offering students the opportunity to do independent research with the guidance of faculty mentors. The research culminates in a written report, a thesis. Completion of an honors thesis demonstrates a student’s discipline and motivation as well as strong writing and analytical skills—assets for which prospective employers and graduate school admissions committees will be looking.

The department hosts an information meeting about the Honors Program in Sociology in early October each year. Attendees can meet the faculty honors coordinator, hear from current honors students, and get all of their questions about the program and your application answered. Visit our Events page for the date, time, and location.

Application Instructions for 2016 Honors Cohort (PDF)

Applications are due Friday, October 31, 2014

Course Planning InformationWhat you should plan to take when if you're thinking about a thesis.

 Prospective honors students should plan on completing SOC 210 (Statistics) or STATS 250 (previously numbered 350) prior to the winter semester of the junior year and should take SOC 310 or 312 (Methods) no later than the winter semester of the junior year. As a student in the Honors Program in Sociology, you will take SOC 497 (previously numbered 397) in the winter semester of your junior year, and 498 and 499 (previously numbered 398 and 399) in the fall and winter of your senior year. Click on Honors Courses below to learn more.

ApplyingApplications for the 2016 cohort are due Friday, October 31, 2014.

To apply to the Honors Program in Sociology, you must

  • be a sociology concentrator,
  • have at least a 3.5 GPA in sociology courses (including the required statistics course),
  • have at least a 3.4 overall GPA,
  • and have at least second-semester sophomore class standing.

The application requires

  • a two to three page essay indicating your interest in the discipline and exploring potential topics for a thesis
  • and two letters of recommendation from University of Michigan faculty or GSIs (recommendations from Department of Sociology faculty are strongly encouraged).

Applications are due during fall semester of your junior year, and the required three course sequence (SOC 497, 498, and 499; previously numbered at the 300 level) begins the next semester, in winter. SOC 497 is only offered in the winter semester.

Honors CoursesDescriptions of each course in the 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. 

Sociology 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 its initial analysis. 

Sociology 499: Thesis Writing
In SOC 499, you will complete the analysis of data and write the 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 concentration requirements,
  • complete SOC 497, 498, and 499,
  • satisfactorily complete your  thesis,
  • and end your undergraduate career with at least a 3.4 cumulative overall GPA.

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

Honors Thesis Research Funding

Sociology students who have been admitted to the Honors Program can request up to $400 to support their research project for the Honors Thesis. Before requesting these funds, students in the Honors Program should review the full funding policy and direct questions to the Honors Advisor.

SymposiumSeniors present their research findings at the annual symposium.

At the conclusion of the three course sequence, honors students have an opportunity to present their research projects, findings, and analyses to their family and friends at the annual Sociology Honors Symposium. The Robert Cooley Angell Award for the best thesis is announced at the conclusion of the symposium program. 

The 2015 Honors Symposium is Thursday April 30, 2015, at 6:00pm, in the Michigan Union's Pendleton Room.

Robert Cooley Angell AwardAn annual award for the best undergraduate honors thesis in Sociology.

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.