Director for 2016-17, Nancy Whittier
The honors program allows a student with a strong academic background to devote a substantial portion of their senior year's course work to an independent and original research project that will result in a thesis. Eligible students should apply in the spring of their junior year. (January graduates are on a different schedule.) Honors is a year-long course (430D for 8 credits) taken over both semesters of the senior year.
- At least a 3.5 grade point average (GPA) through the junior year in all courses in the major
- At least a 3.3 grade point average (GPA) through the junior year in all courses outside the major
- At least one course related to the area of the thesis
- Completion of 250 and either 202 or 203 by the end of the junior year
- Completion of 6 SOC courses by the end of the junior year
- Approval of the sociology department
A student applying to a Departmental Honors program must certify in a letter, as part of her Honors Application, that she has not been sanctioned by the Honor Board at a serious level (1/3 step grade reduction or more). As with Latin Honors, sanctions imposed in the first year are excluded; a student is only debarred from Honors for serious violations in the sophomore, junior and senior year. Students already enrolled in an Honors project who incur a sanction during the senior year ust convert their Honors project to a Special Studies. The certification letter should be submitted directly to the Senior Class Dean either in hard copy to College Hall 101 or by email attachment to email@example.com. The template for the certification letter can be found on the Class Deans webpage.
Options and Credits for Honors Project Courses
Honors Theses in Sociology are year-long, 8 credit courses (4 credits per semester). Students doing honors may not count courses from related fields towards the major; they must complete at least 9 SOC courses (including 101) in addition to the honors thesis. Occasionally, a student undertaking a year-long Special Studies may, with her adviser's support, apply to retroactively convert the Special Studies to an honors thesis.
Candidates for departmental honors must carry a minimum course load (12 credits) in each semester of the senior year (Ada Comstock Scholars should see the Dean for Ada Comstock Scholars regarding credit load). Any variation in the credit distribution described above must be approved by the Subcommittee on Honors and Inependent Programs.
A prospective applicant meeting the qualifications for the honors program should consult no later than the second semester of her junior year with a faculty member in the sociology department who is willing to serve as her thesis adviser. The job of the thesis adviser is to supervise the planning, research, writing, and evaluation of the thesis. The thesis adviser must be a member of the Smith faculty in sociology; faculty in other departments or at other Five College institutions may serve only as second readers. Because the adviser and candidate will work closely together throughout the duration of the program, a student must make sure that her adviser will not be on leave or on sabbatical during the relevant semesters. The thesis topic should be related to the area of expertise of the thesis adviser. Normally, any sociology faculty member may only direct one honors thesis per year. The student should also choose a second reader, who may be either a member of the sociology faculty, a faculty member at one of the other Five College institutions, or a faculty member in another department at Smith. The applicant must also meet with the director of honors for the sociology department, to review procedures for applying to the honors program.
The thesis proposal and IRB proposal, where relevant, should be submitted to the Department of Sociology by May 1 of the student's junior year. Most sociology honors theses require data collection, which in many cases must occur during the junior year or the summer before the senior year. Therefore, final approval of admission to the sociology honors program is contingent on successful achievement of any summer plans related to the thesis. Final College decisions about admission to the departmental honors program are made after grades from spring semester are recorded. The application process consists of eight steps on the student's part:
- Request via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org a "Calculation of GPA Requirements Form" to be emailed. Please include your ID number with the request.
- Calculate, with the thesis adviser, the separate grade point averages (GPAs) inside and outside the major for all courses on the form. Instructions on how to calculate will be sent together with the calculation form.
- Submit to the director of honors in the sociology department (and subsequently to the Subcommittee on Honors and Independent Programs) a thesis proposal consisting of approximately four to five pages containing:
- A description of the scholarly issue to be investigated and a brief review of the relevant scholarly literature
- The specific research questions
- An explanation of the proposed theoretical framework and methodology and evidence of experience with this methodology
- Documentation of relevant background, preparation, special facility or skills necessary to undertake the proposed thesis (e.g., previous course work related to the thesis topic, quantitative skills, foreign language ability, etc.)
- A working bibliography of all significant sources
- Apply for approval from the Smith IRB, if applicable
- Obtain the signature of the thesis adviser on the application
- Submit the completed application plus any request for funding from the Nancy Kershaw Tomlinson Memorial Fund to the Director of Honors in the major department or program prior to the last meeting of the department or program for the semester in which you are applying. Normally, the sociology deadline is May 1 of your senior year.
- Submit your certification letter (see "eligibility" above for explanation) directly to the Senior Class Dean by mail to College Hall 101 or by email to email@example.com. Submit the completed application and "Calculation of GPA Requirements Form" plus any request for funding from the Nancy Kershaw Tomlinson Fund.
Nancy Kershaw Tomlinson Memorial Fund
The Tomlinson Fund assists in providing essential expenses of students in carrying out their honors projects. Guidelines, Reimbursement form, Travel Budget form and Supplies & Equipment Budget forms are available on the Class Dean's website.
Required Project Research Appointment
Each student accepted into the Departmental Honors Program must arrange for a research appointment with a reference librarian or archivist at the Hillyer Art Library, Josten Performing Arts Library, William Allan Neilson Library, or Young Science Library. The purpose of this session is to prepare the student for locating, obtaining, evaluating, and correctly documenting all relevant sources needed for a successful project. These skills are necessary even if some research has already been conducted. The content of each meeting is tailored to the student’s topic and presents an opportunity for the student to ask specific questions about the proposed research process as well as a chance to develop expertise in using the most relevant databases, web sites, or other vital research tools.
This hour-long meeting must be scheduled by mid-October at the latest, but it should be made as early as possible so that the student can take full advantage of the print and electronic resources to be demonstrated. Since the librarian or archivist will need some time to research each project topic, expect that the scheduling process will take a few days. To schedule a research appointment, make an online request at: https://www.smith.edu/libraries/forms/raform.htm
The final decision regarding admission to the Departmental Honors Program
rests with the Subcommittee on Honors and Independent Programs.
Requirements of Students Admitted to the Honors Program
Students will work closely with her adviser in collecting data and writing the thesis. Normally, a draft of the full thesis should be submitted to the adviser and second reader no later than March 1.
Following submission of the final thesis, students will present their work in a public presentation attended by members of the sociology faculty and students. This presentation should cover the theoretical arguments and empirical findings of the thesis. Following the presentation, the student will address questions from the audience. Members of the sociology faculty may also ask questions of the student in an extended period after the presentation.