Close menu Resources for... William & Mary
W&M menu close William & Mary

Sociology Honors Guidelines

If you are a current student and interested in conducting an Honors project, it is important to start the process early and pay attention to the timeline, qualifications, and requirements for both the Sociology department and Charles Center. Below is a summary of the Sociology Department's guidelines, but also check our main Honors page for more information about the Charles Center guidelines and the full timeline.

Quick guide timeline:
  1. Fall semester of Junior year: Meet with a faculty advisor
  2. January of Junior year: Submit initial Application to Pursue Honors in Sociology 
  3. Early February of Junior year: (If approved by department) Confirm Chair of Honors Committee and submit Charles Center application
  4. Mid-February of Junior year: (Optional) Apply for an Honors fellowship through the Charles Center to support summer research.
  5. End of fall semester Senior year: Submit and defend formal Honors thesis proposal
  6. Spring of Senior year: Defend thesis (See Charles Center website for official thesis submission and defense deadlines). 

See the full timeline for additional details and deadlines.


In order to be able to pursue Senior Honors in Sociology a student must:

  1. Have a 3.0 cumulative grade point average or a 3.0 for the junior year alone.
  2. Comple the department approval process (see below)
  3. Complete the Charles Center's Honors Program admission process
Departmental Process

The student should meet with their major advisor during the fall semester of the junior year to discuss the nature of the Senior Honors project and prepare the initial thesis project proposal due in January (see an example proposal here and here).  An email from the department will be sent in November indicating exact due date each year. Students will be notified by the end of February regarding approval of their initial project proposal and whether or not they will be allowed to pursue an Honors project in the department.

Those students who are accepted for Honors will work with their assigned Honors advisor in the sociology department in the spring of their junior year to develop a plan for submitting the formal thesis proposal (a more in-depth proposal that includes a literature review, data to be used, and initial analysis).  An oral examination will be conducted in December in defense of the thesis proposal.

The study will be formally admitted to candidacy when:

  1. Eligibility has been certified by the Charles Center; and
  2. The formal thesis proposal has been accepted by a department committee made up of the chair of the Honors Thesis committee and an additional Sociology faculty member. This formal proposal must be accepted no later than the end of add/drop during registration for the first semester of the senior year.

The examining committee for the thesis submitted in the Spring must include at least one person from some department other than Sociology. The candidate and advisor will jointly determine the Committee composition and a date for the thesis proposal conference.

How it is graded

The grading of the Sociology 495 is deferred until the defense of the thesis has been conducted in the Spring. The committee will determine continuance status in the Honors Program into the Spring semester. During the candidate’s second semester senior year, the committee, consisting of three or more faculty members will read the honors thesis and conduct a comprehensive examination. The comprehensive exam will consist of an oral exam, lasting approximately one hour. The main purpose of the examination will be to ask questions about the honors thesis, but the candidate may also be asked to discuss other theoretical or methodological issues related to the research design/analysis.

The examining committee will determine if honors will be awarded. Sociology has only one level – Honors. 

After the Comprehensive Exam the Committee may instruct the candidate to correct any errors discovered during the evaluation process. A candidate who successfully completes Honors 495 in the fall will receive a grade of “G”. Following the Comprehensive Exam in the Spring, a final grade for both Honors 495 and 496 will be determined by the thesis director in consultation with the examining committee.

Six hours of credit in a course designated Sociology 495-496 shall be awarded upon satisfactory completion of the Thesis.