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Senior Thesis

The Value of the Senior Thesis

Writing a senior thesis is valuable in several ways.

First and foremost, the experience of writing a thesis is intellectually valuable. Students who tackle a thesis have the opportunity to do in-depth research on a question of their own choosing. For students who want bona fide exposure to all the different phases of the research process, there is no substitute for writing your own thesis. You will need to come up with a good question, figure out how to answer it, collect the necessary data, analyze it in a credible manner, and then discus your results in a compelling piece of long-form writing. Students who successfully complete a thesis will go through a uniquely rewarding intellectual experience, and their skills and capacities typically grow tremendously over the course of the two quarters.

Of course, as you go through the thesis-writing process, you will have the benefit of working closely with two faculty members. In addition to receiving guidance and feedback from the Honors Coordinator, who oversees the work of all thesis-writers, you will also have the opportunity to be advised individually by a departmental faculty member with substantive or methodological expertise on your research question. The interactions that you have with faculty members regarding your thesis will be among the most intellectually rewarding in your time at Northwestern.

There is a social value to writing a thesis as well. Writing your thesis will be far from a solitary experience. Majors who decide to take on a thesis join a cohort of talented, motivated students who share many of their interests and who are going through the same experience. If the opportunity to meet and bond with other sociology majors is somewhat limited in the first few years of taking courses, students who decide to write a senior thesis often find that they have the opportunity to forge strong connections with several of their fellow thesis-writers.

Lastly, there is (for lack of a better phrase) a ‘professional development value” to writing a senior thesis. Students complete a thesis will have worked closely with two faculty members for two quarters, and this experience will have given these faculty members the opportunity to watch their advisees develop and grow. If you plan to attend graduate school at some point after graduating from Northwestern, you will need letters of recommendation from faculty who know you well, and the faculty who helped you complete a senior thesis will be among the faculty who know you the best.

Department Honors

The Department of Sociology recognizes the work of its outstanding seniors with departmental honor awards which are presented at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences (WCAS) Convocation. Departmental honor awards are given to those students who show outstanding scholarship in their major course of study.
Nominations are submitted to the College Committee on Superior Students and Honors, which has final authority to grant the honors degree. The Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences Committee on Superior Students and Honors reviews students' grade point average, senior research thesis, and faculty recommendations to determine which students receive Departmental Honors.

Senior Thesis with Distinction Award

The Department has established an award program for sociology majors, which recognizes outstanding thesis in the Senior Research Seminar. Senior thesis completed in other departments that satisfy the Department's thesis requirements, such as a senior thesis in Urban Studies, may also be submitted to the Department for consideration. This award is based on each student's creative ability, persuasiveness and systematic way of doing research. Recipients are determined by the Departmental Honors committee, and are announced each spring quarter (usually end of May).

Best Senior Thesis in Sociology Award

The Department has established an award for the Best Senior Thesis in sociology. Recipients are determined by the Departmental Honors committee, and are announced each spring quarter (usually end of May).

Sociology 2022 Senior Theses

Ella Boscoe**
Exploring Black-Female Entrepreneurship:
Business Ownership as a Form of Agency and Cultural Empowerment

Sarah Davis*
Parenting While Black:
Experiences and Perceived Health Impacts of Raising Black Children in American Society

Priyanshi Katare*
The Self-fulfilling Trap: Do Ratings Agencies Control Policy Outcomes

Katica Hope O'Connor*
Religiosity, Voter Turnout, and Congressional Representation of Black Americans

*Thesis with Distinction

**Best Senior Thesis in Sociology Award

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