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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 a faculty mentor. The research culminates in a written thesis report. 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 meet the honors director, hear from current honors students, and get all of their questions about the program and application answered. 

Honors Information Session

Monday, September 30th, 2019 from 5:30pm-7:00pm in LSA 4154. RSVP HERE.

Current and former Honors students will share their experiences completing an undergraduate thesis. The Director of the Sociology Honors Program and the Undergraduate Advisor will also share suggestions and logistics regarding the application. 

Honors Courses

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. 

SOC 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 initial analysis. 

SOC 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.

Course Planning Information

Prospective honors students should plan on completing SOC 210 (Statistics) or STATS 250 prior to the winter semester of the junior year.

Prospective honors students should take SOC 310 (Methods) no later than the winter semester of the junior year.

As a student in the Honors Program in Sociology, you are required to take:

  • SOC 497 winter term, Junior year.
  • SOC 498 fall term, Senior year.
  • SOC 499 winter term, Senior year. 

All nine of the credits from SOC 497, 498, and 499 count toward the Sociology major. Click on Honors Courses  to learn more about each course.

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.


At the conclusion of the three course sequence, honors students present their research projects, findings, and analyses 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 2020 Honors Symposium will be on Thursday, April 30 from 5:30-8:00pm in the Rackham Assembly Hall.

NOTE: In accordance with bans on large gatherings and public events, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Honors Symposium.

Robert Cooley Angell Award

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.


To apply to the Honors Program in Sociology, you must:

  • Be a Sociology major
  • Have at least a 3.5 GPA in Sociology courses (including the required statistics course)*
  • Have at least a 3.4 overall GPA
  • Have at least second-semester sophomore class standing 

The application requires:

  • Two to three page essay indicating your interest in the discipline and exploring potential topics for a thesis 
  • Academic writing sample (5-10 pages)
  • Two letters of recommendation from University of Michigan faculty or GSIs (recommendations from Department of Sociology faculty are strongly encouraged)*

*Transfer students (students who recently entered the Sociology program from other universities or non-LSA schools within UM) may submit letters of recommendation and transcripts from their previous institutions. These will be given the same weight during the admissions process, but the student’s acceptance to the program will be conditional upon his or her Sociology GPA at the end of the Fall term of the application period.

Applications are due during fall semester of your junior year and the required three course sequence (SOC 497, 498, and 499) begins the next semester (winter).

Honors Application Due Date: Friday, October 25th 2019 (Recommendations must arrive no later than Friday, November 1st)