- Where should I start in choosing a topic? Can I “extend” a project that I have already done in quantitative or qualitative methods? What if I collected data over the summer?
- How thorough does the senior experience proposal need to be?
- Where can I find a list of internships that other sociology students have participated in?
- What should I say when I approach an internship site?
- If I want to conduct interviews for my senior project, how many interviews do I have to conduct?
- How do I show that my topic is sociological?
- What do we need to include related to sociological “concepts” and “theories”?
- What sociological project should I do at my internship site? And what does it mean to do a sociological project?
- Can I still write a grant application for my senior project?
- Is the white paper still an option for a senior project?
- Does my proposal need to be in ASA style?
- I want to get a jumpstart on my sociology portfolio, what papers do I need to collect and what do I need to write?
- How do I get a letter of recommendation for graduate school?
- What happens if my senior experience proposal does not pass?
- What happens if I fail senior experience?
1. Where should I start in choosing a topic? Can I “extend” a project that I have already done in quantitative or qualitative methods? What if I collected data over the summer?
We encourage you to conduct a senior experience project that is in a subfield of sociology that you are already familiar with (e.g., immigration, race, trans studies, etc.). Doing a project on, for example, gender when you have never taken a class on gender is not recommended.
Students should propose a new and unique project with an original research question. You cannot extend a project (same topic or research question) from quantitative or qualitative methods. You can use the same data set that you used in quantitative methods but you must propose a different topic and ask a different research question. You cannot use data collected in qualitative methods.
If you collected data over the summer for a LARC or CARSON grant you cannot use it for your senior experience project. It would not be fair to other students because (1) you were paid to collect the data and (2) you have already produced a final product using the data.
2. How thorough does the senior experience proposal need to be?
Information on what to write in your proposal can be accessed here:
Handouts (revised yearly) for the senior experience will be sent out via email over the summer. There are also mandatory meetings in September that will give you more detail about the proposal.
Note: The meetings for all students planning to take the course in Spring 2018 will be held on Sept 13, 2017 at 4:15pm and Sept 14, 2017 at 11:30am.
Your senior experience proposal is a 4-5 page plan of action, not a statement of interest. In other words, we expect a high level of detail in your descriptions of: what your topic is, what you already know about your topic, how you plan to study your topic, and what sociological concepts or theories you could use to analyze your topic. A minimum of 3 empirical citations is required when discussing what you already know about your topic or how sociology has previously studied your topic. And a minimum of 3 theoretical citations is required when you discuss how your topic is sociological and what concepts or theories you could use to analyze your topic.
Ultimately, we expect you to convey the feasibility of your project by documenting (if applicable to your project): your acceptance to an internship site, the access you have to a quantitative data set, or the access you have to a group you plan to interview. For the internship you have a learning contract to fill out (part of the emailed paperwork you will receive over the summer). Also, you could consider turning in an email confirming that a group has agreed to participate in interviews or a screenshot of the quantitative data set you have access to.
3. Where can I find a list of internships that other sociology students have participated in?
This link takes you to a list of past internship locations. This list was updated in Spring of 2017.
You can also utilize other resources that are great for connecting you with community organizations and partners. Notably, the Office of Community Service Learning lists many sites here:
4. What should I say when I approach an internship site?
See internship handout that will be emailed to you over the summer.
5. If I want to conduct interviews for my senior project, how many interviews do I have to conduct?
You must conduct a minimum of eight 20-minute interviews to complete a qualitative senior research project. If you “cannot find” enough people within your sample then you will be asked to expand your target sample. Keep this in mind as you design your project.
6. How do I show that my topic is sociological?
What do you already know about your topic? How have sociologists studied it and how will you study it? We hope that you pick a topic for your senior experience that you are familiar with. What have you read about your topic in classes? Describe articles or book chapters you have read with citations. If you haven’t read anything about your topic then you need to do a mini-literature review for the proposal and cite at least 3 empirical sources. How do sociologists approach your topic – do they focus on inequalities, social construction, socialization, durable institutions, etc.?
7. What do we need to include related to sociological “concepts” and “theories”?
Sociological theory explains why the world is the way it is. What concepts and/or theories (theories are groups of concepts) do sociologists use when writing about your topic? For example, intersectionality is a theory made up of several concepts like social position, matrix of domination, social structure, identity, etc. Or, for example, social reproduction is a theory made up of several concepts like habitus, cultural capital, social capital, etc. In your proposal you need to cite a minimum of 3 theoretical sources that define concepts thoroughly and then explain how they relate to your project.
You may want all three citations to be from one theorist or about one concept in order to show the depth of your understanding. For example, you could have 3 citations about intersectionality or social capital. Please use concepts and theories that are closely related to your topic. We do not expect you to go back to the classical theorists like Marx and Weber and doing so may show a lack of theoretical understanding. If you don’t know where to start, look at articles about your topic and see what concepts are referenced. Also take a look at your course work and texts from sociology, WGS, or AES classes (not just Sociological Theory 303).
8. What sociological project should I do at my internship site? And what does it mean to do a sociological project?
You need to use your expertise as a sociologist to work on a project for your internship site. Does showing up to tutor students in math everyday count? No. Does planning a dinner for homeless youth draw on your expertise as a sociologist? Maybe, are you building partnerships for the organization or following other best practices in the social movements and non-profit literature? Does planning a class or workshop on non-violence for a local community partner draw on your expertise as a sociologist? Yes. You could also write a grant, crunch data that a non-profit already collected, or write and conduct a survey. Have some ideas in mind when you go and talk to a community partner and ask them what they want.
9. Can I still write a grant application for my senior project?
In the Spring of 2019, the grant application option may return. In which case you will need to set up a clear learning contract with your organization that is similar to the learning contract used in the internship option. You must also turn in the paperwork that identifies when an actual grant is due when you turn in your proposal. The grant must be new to the organization (not one they have applied to before) and the grant application must be original (not based on a grant application the organization submitted in the past). Your proposal will describe the “state of the issue” in sociology from both an empirical and theoretical perspective (with the same citation requirements as other proposals). The final project must be of submittable quality and may be submitted for the grant with approval by the community partner.
10. Is the white paper still an option for a senior project?
Yes, you may complete a white paper for your senior experience as part of the Senior Seminar class (not the internship class.) A white paper is a literature review that identifies a social problem, describes existing data and studies about that problem, and recommends data-driven solutions. Often white papers focus on a local problem at the state level and offers solutions that could be instituted by state policymakers. We encourage you to share your final paper with policymakers.
11. Does my proposal need to be in ASA style?
12. I want to get a jumpstart on my sociology portfolio, what papers do I need to collect and what do I need to write?
All the information you need about the Senior Portfolio is found here:
13. How do I get a letter of recommendation for graduate school?
See the procedure on our website:
14. What happens if my senior experience proposal does not pass?
If your proposal does not pass, you will no longer be able to choose between the internship and seminar options (in years they are both offered). You will be assigned to a class to even out the numbers of students in each course. Second, you are expected to revise and resubmit your proposal (by the second due date) addressing all the recommended changes suggested by faculty. Failure to revise the proposal sufficiently means that the student will not be allowed entrance into any senior experience course and the student must wait a year, complete a new proposal on a new topic, and then take the course.
15. What happens if I fail senior experience?
If you get an “F” in senior experience you will need to retake it the next spring. You are responsible for writing a proposal in the fall for a new project. It is your responsibility to contact the department of sociology in early September to find out when the proposal is due.