Definition

What is a Senior Thesis?


The senior thesis in Sociology is a substantial paper written by a senior student majoring in the discipline, based on an original sociological research project undertaken by the student. The senior thesis in Sociology provides students an opportunity to study a sociological problem independently and in-depth, while engaging in a seminar where they present and peer review work. Majors are not required to write a thesis. Those choosing to write one have the necessary academic preparation for independent research (including a strong methodological and theoretical background), the motivation to devote the required time and energy, and the ability to work independently.

The Senior Thesis / Advanced Research Seminar (SOC 405) is designed to support students’ individual research projects and to provide a forum within which to peer review students’ work. It is offered every spring semester. Permission of the thesis advisor is a prerequisite for enrollment in SOC 405. Each student enrolled in SOC 405 formulates a specific research question, identifies and reviews relevant literature, collects or obtains appropriate empirical data, analyzes data, and develops theoretically meaningful conclusions from the results of the analysis.

The senior thesis is written as the final product of this research process. In consultation with the faculty, students planning to complete a senior thesis must write a thesis proposal that describes their intended research topic, complete with a preliminary literature review and bibliography. They submit the proposal to their academic advisor and the faculty member teaching SOC 405 no later than the Friday following Thanksgiving break. A student employing methodologies potentially requiring Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval needs to begin the IRB process as early as possible.