Research is the foundation of a degree in sociology at William & Mary. You will learn to apply research theory and methods in the classroom, and have the opportunity to conduct your own independent research or participate in a collaborative research project lead by one of your professors.
Research in Class
All of our majors take at least 4 courses focusing on the theory and methods of sociological research. These classes will teach you will both quantatitative and qualitative methods of conducting research, and to interpret the results of sociological research. But even if you are only taking one sociology course, you will learn something about how we study human social life.
If you come up with an idea for a research project, you may be able to explore the idea as an independent research project. Your idea may be suitable for an Honors project - which is a year-long project you conduct under supervision of a faculty advisor. Other ideas could be semester-long projects that you can do as part of an Independent Research project or as part of your Senior Capstone Seminar.
To get started with a project of your own design, you will need a research advisor who can oversee your work. To find a research advisor, talk to or email your major advisor or a professor who is already doing research related to your idea. They can advise you on the best route to follow.
Many of our professors lead research projects that use student help. Students involved in these on-going projects are frequently invited to present their work at conferences and seminars, or are listed as co-authors on articles in professional journals.
The Collective is a student written and produced sociology journal. You can help.
Why the Focus on Research?
Both employers and graduate programs value the discipline and qualitative skills of someone trained in doing research. But beyond that, when you understand how sociological research is done, you can better judge research that gets popularized in the media. You will be able to make your own conclusions about information presented in many different areas. This is a valuable skill indeed - wherever your life takes you.