What does the Distinguished Majors Program involve?
Students in the Distinguished Majors Program enroll in two additional three-credit courses (SOC 4980 and SOC 4981), over and above the minimum 10 courses required for the major, in the fall and spring semesters of the fourth year. In the fall, students develop a detailed research proposal that reviews existing literature, frames a research question, and plans appropriate research methods. If student numbers permit, the Department offers a small-group seminar to support this process. In the spring, students work independently with their faculty advisors to collect and analyze data and write up their findings as an honors thesis.
Who is eligible to participate in the Distinguished Majors Program?
The Program is open to students who have a cumulative College GPA of 3.4 or higher and who will have completed SOC 3120-Sociology Research Workshop before enrolling in the fall. Students may have a slightly lower GPA at the time of application, with the expectation that grades will be raised by the time of graduation.
Why should you apply?
The Distinguished Majors Program is a highly engaging and rewarding experience that enables you to do real research on a question that interests you or a problem you care about. In recent years, our Distinguished Majors have written theses on a wide variety of topics, such as:
- The effects of exposure to anti-immigrant attitudes on immigrants’ mental health.
- How women doctors navigate their interactions with male patients.
- How transracial adoptees construct their racial-ethnic identities.
- The impact of dating app use on relationship quality and commitment.
The process of researching and writing your thesis will challenge you, and when you’re finished, you’ll feel a new sense of accomplishment and confidence in your abilities. You’ll gain valuable skills in gathering, processing, and analyzing data, clear and persuasive writing, and managing a complex project. You’ll form a strong mentoring relationship with your faculty supervisor. Finally, completing the program will allow you to graduate with one of three levels of honors: “distinction,” “high distinction,” or “highest distinction.” Participating in the Program is the only way to graduate with honors in Sociology.
How can you apply?
First, formulate a tentative idea for your research project. Next, discuss your idea with one or more faculty members who might be a good supervisor for your project. If you’re not sure who to approach, your regular faculty advisor or the Director of Undergraduate Programs can help.
Once you’ve identified one or more potential advisors, prepare a brief description of your research idea and how you might study it. Download and complete the application form (available on the Department website at https://sociology.as.virginia.edu/program-forms-and-links). Email the completed form and your brief description to our Academic Staff Assistant, Joyce Holleran at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are interested, please read the full details in the Undergraduate Handbook on the Department website. If you still have questions, don’t hesitate to contact Joyce Holleran at email@example.com or Dr. Elizabeth Gorman, Director of Undergraduate Programs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.