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Honors Program

The Honors Program offers superior students the opportunity to pursue intensive work within sociology. Students who meet the College of Arts and Science requirements and are recommended for the program by the director of undergraduate studies will typically begin the program in the fall of their junior or senior year. To be considered for the Honors Program in Sociology, a student must have a minimum cumulative GPA and a minimum sociology GPA of 3.3. Honors in Sociology requires successful completion of at least 6 credit hours of 4981 over two semesters. The first semester, 4981 is a 3-credit hour honors seminar in which students develop the literature review and research plan. In the second semester of 4981, also for 3 credits, students must complete the research, data analysis, and initial write-up of results. Students must complete both the first and the second semesters (six credits total) in order to have the honors sequence replace Sociology 3003. Juniors often elect to take a third or even fourth semester of 4981 during the senior year, when they may work on revisions of the project and on publication. Students who begin the honors program in their senior year may also take more than 6 credits of 4981. A student who has completed an honors thesis will defend that thesis through an oral examination attended by the chair and reader of the thesis; this oral defense will typically take place during the spring semester of the student’s senior year. Students who complete the honors sequence take a minimum of 36 hours to complete the requirements for the major in sociology. Students must successfully complete an honors thesis by the end of the spring semester of their senior year. Interested majors should contact the director of undergraduate studies Shaul Kelner for information.

Examples of related honors that our students have received are as follows:

In 2018, Sydney Allen’s paper “Inequalities Rising with the Waves: Global Perspectives on Climate Justice” was selected for the tenth annual Vanderbilt Undergraduate Writing Symposium.

In 2017, Madison Renner won a Vanderbilt Undergraduate Summer Research Project award to work with David Hess on European conservative parties and climate-change policies.

In 2011, Ethel Mickey received honorable mention from the Southern Sociological Society in the competition for best undergraduate paper (the Odum Award) for “The Effects of Mass Media on Interpersonal Trust: Newspaper, Television, and Internet,” and also earned the best student paper prize at the Tennessee Undergraduate Social Science Symposium held at Middle Tennessee State University.

In 2006, Melanie Kowalski was awarded a 2006 Vanderbilt Undergraduate Summer Research Program (VUSRP) award. Melanie’s research project is entitled, “Surrogate Consumers and the Production of Meaning: Press Kits and the Radio and Record Industries.” The VUSRP extended from June to August, 2006.  VUSRP students are expected to participate in Fellows meetings and present their research findings.  The 2006 award carried with it a $4,000 stipend.

In 2006, Ari Wisch’s paper on Nashville immigrants, co-authored with sociology professor Dan Cornfield, was accepted for presentation at the convention of the American Sociological Association. The paper is entitled “Settling In: Residential Strategies and Segregation Among African, Asian, Hispanic and Middle Eastern Immigrants in Nashville, Tennessee.”

In 2006, Star Wallin, a double major in sociology and public policy studies, was selected to be a member of USA TODAY’s 2006 All-USA College Academic Team. In 2005, she was honored by being named a Truman Scholar (Harry S. Truman Foundation), a Udall Scholar (Morris K. Udall Foundation), and a winner in Glamour Magazine’s Top 10 College Women Competition. Star also is a Vanderbilt Ingram Scholar and worked with Jane Goodall in the summer of 2005 in Tanzania as a coordinator of a youth empowerment program.

Julianne Johnston, a junior and undergraduate sociology major, had her research paper accepted by the 2004 Honors Program of the American Sociological Association for presentation at the 99th ASA annual meetings in San Francisco.