Guidelines for Graduation with Distinction
Based Upon Completion of the Departmental Honors
The Sociology Department offers students the opportunity to graduate with honor beyond the traditional Latin Honors (i.e. cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude). The purpose of the Graduation with Distinction in Sociology award is to acknowledge superior student achievement as a sociologist and a scholar.
Eligible students are sociology majors with a 3.5 or higher GPA in the major and a 3.5 or higher GPA overall. Any exceptions must be approved by the department.
By April 15th of their Junior Year, eligible students must submit to the Department Chair: (1) a letter of intent specifying the departmental honors option they are taking and identifying their Honors Mentor and (2) a copy of their current Augsburg University transcript.
- Successful completion of the Honors Project and approval by the Sociology Department following an oral presentation of the project to the members of the department.
- Presentation of the Honors Project in poster format at Zyzzogeton.
- Achievement of a 3.5 or higher GPA in the major and 3.5 or higher GPA overall.
Honors Project Options:
Students pursuing Departmental Honors must choose between:
- Completion of an Honors Essay focusing on an issue in the profession of sociology (see detailed description below). (Students may choose to enroll in an independent study course for the purpose of writing this essay.)
- Conducting original research through an independent study or through URGO or the McNair Scholars Program.
Option 1: The Honors Essay—The Profession of Sociology and Status of the Discipline
In this new work, students select a topic of importance within the profession of sociology. In order help the student determine his or her own professional identity, the student will examine of an issue of debate, controversy, or critical significance to the profession of sociology based on in-depth readings determined by the student and advisor. The candidate must demonstrate critical and evaluative thinking in which he or she takes a position on an issue and provides support and evidence for that argument as a sociologist. The paper should be 20 pages of text and should exemplify quality writing, high level critical thinking, and understanding of an important topic. The Honors Essay piece should stand alone as an example of written work, critical thinking and depth of understanding of the field of sociology.
Our expectations are that this written piece be a thoughtful and convincing document which demonstrates synthesis of the curriculum in sociology and additional outside reading and reflection. The developmental process of the essay should help the student think through what the sociology major means for them, our discipline, and for his or her future plans.
Option 2: The Original Research Project
For this option, students engage in a research project involving the collection and analysis of original data. This project may build upon work already started in the context of Research Methods (SOC 363) or any other sociology course involving data collection and analysis, but it must go well beyond the work completed for that course. Those students accepted into the URGO or McNair Scholars programs may use the research completed in those programs as their Departmental Honors Project. However, students who do so are strongly encouraged to submit their work well in advance of the January 15 deadline (see below) in order to receive feedback from the members of the department. If the members of the department determine that more work needs to be done before the work qualifies for Departmental Honors, the student will be expected to complete that work and revise the paper prior to the March 15 deadline. Important note: For research involving human participants, Augsburg Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval must be secured before data collection begins.
Timeline for Completion:
- April 15th of Junior Year: Submit letter of intent to Department Chair (see above).
- Summer between Junior and Senior Year: For those pursuing Option 1, remain in consultation with your Departmental Honors Mentor regarding your review of the literature. For those pursuing Option 2 and who are URGO or McNair Scholars, work with your Research Mentor on the research project. For those pursuing Option 2 and who plan to enroll in an independent research for completing the original research project in the Fall term, remain in consultation with your Honors Mentor regarding your review of the literature and designing the research project itself (including the IRB proposal, if needed).
- September of Senior Year: (For those students pursuing Option 1 or Option 2 in the context of an independent study) Submit research question, theoretical framework, and working list of references to the Department Chair.
It is the Chair’s responsibility to distribute this document to members of the department. Department members will have the opportunity to offer suggestions regarding the completion of the project. If a majority of the department feels the project is significantly lacking in focus and progress, the Chair will inform the student that they may not continue working toward Departmental Honors.
- January 15th of Senior Year: A completed draft of the Departmental Honors Project must be turned in to the Departmental Honors Mentor.
The Honors Mentor will distribute the Honors Project to members of the department. Departmental members will have the opportunity to offer suggestions regarding the completion of the final project. If a majority of the department feels the project is significantly lacking in focus and progress, the Chair will inform the student that they may not continue working toward Departmental Honors.
- March 15th of Senior Year: The final copy of the Departmental Honors Project must be turned in to the Departmental Honors Mentor.
The Honors Mentor will distribute the Honors Project to members of the department. The oral presentation and departmental vote regarding the awarding of Departmental Honors will take place before April 1st. The Honors Mentor is responsible for scheduling the oral presentation. The Honors Project will remain in department files and will be used for assessment purposes.
- April of Senior Year: The student presents his or her Honors Project in poster format at Zyzzogeton.
Honors Mentor Responsibilities:
The Honors Mentor will help the candidate focus on the topic and scope of the honors essay or original research project, as well as assist him or her as they navigate the appropriate scholarly literature and/or methodology. It is expected that this assistance will include regular meetings and review of the student’s progress. The Honors Mentor will also make sure the candidate understands the process and the deadlines listed above. If the candidate falls significantly behind in the process, it is the advisor’s responsibility to notify the Department Chair.
Upon completion of the draft of the Honors Project in January, the Honors Mentor will distribute the project to each member of the department in order to solicit comments and suggestions for the final draft. It is the Honors Mentor’s responsibility to help the student interpret the faculty suggestions and determine the appropriate course of action. If a majority of faculty members determine that the student has not met the expectations of the project, the Honors Mentor will contact the Chair in order to call a department meeting to discuss whether the candidate will be allowed to proceed.
When the final draft of the Honors Project is complete, the Honors Mentor shall make them available to the faculty and schedule an oral presentation prior to April 1st.
Department Chair Responsibilities:
The Department Chair will solicit faculty for recommendations of students eligible for Departmental Honors early each spring semester.
The Chair will notify department members when a candidate has filled out the application for Departmental Honors in April. The Chair will also consult with the student in order to find the most suitable advisor for the project.
When the Chair receives the research question, theoretical framework, and working list of references in September, they will distribute copies to sociology faculty members. The Chair will also ensure that the candidate and Honors Mentor are advised of the suggestions offered by faculty members.
If at any point during the timetable listed above the majority of the department feels the project is significantly lacking in focus and progress, a meeting must be called to make a final determination. If it is determined that the candidate has failed to reach the expectations of the faculty, the Chair will inform the student that they may not continue working toward Departmental Honors.
Written approval of the Honors Project must be granted by a majority of the Department in order to receive the Departmental Honors/Graduation with Distinction designation. In addition, the honors candidate will meet with the Department faculty to discuss the portfolio prior to securing written approval.
The Department will evaluate the Honors Project using the following criteria: (1) quality of writing and oral presentation, (2) evidence of critical thinking at the analysis, synthesis and evaluation stages applied to the project, (3) demonstration of knowledge of sociological ideas and the sociological perspective, and (4) indication of personal development of an identity as a sociologist.
Evaluation of the Honors Project must be complete prior to April 1st.