Senior Project

In Sociology, the senior project is taken very seriously and requires students to take the initiative. You should meet with your senior project advisor very early in the semester to discuss a topic and to get you motivated. If you haven't chosen an advisor, you may contact any one of the Sociology faculty. This is your responsibility. See you soon!

How do I select a topic?

The topic for the senior project is selected by the student. Your topic should be one that you have an interest in, possibly something that you have studied before or in some depth. It should be something that motivates you and that is within your reach. One way to proceed is to come up with a topic and consult with a Sociology professor whose field of theoretical expertise is related to the topic. Once you pick a topic, you will want to formulate a question and choose the most appropriate methodology to research that question.

What deadlines must I meet?

Senior project deadlines for Sociology are loose, so check with the advisor you will be working with. A general guideline might be:

  • Project proposal due (Topic, Question, Method) by Week 4.
  • Data collected due by Week 8.
  • Rough draft due Week 12.
  • Presentation due last week of semester.

Luther’s final deadline is rigid! Senior projects are due in the Registrar's Office by 5:00 p.m. on the due date —see the Academic Calendar for the date.

How is my work evaluated?

Your paper is read by two readers: your advisor and an additional Sociology professor. The two readers will meet to discuss the merits and concerns about the paper and mutually decide upon a grade. If there is a dispute between the two readers, they will consult the third member of the department to reach consensus concerning the grade.

Evaluation is based on the paper's organization, conceptualization, and analysis (see Rubric form).  The senior paper is the culmination of your knowledge—from topic selection, research methods, statistical applications (if appropriate), and data analysis. You must analyze data. The quality of data analysis is the primary emphasis of evaluation. This means that you may collect your own data or analyze previously collected data. Data collection may take the form of any sociological methodology including ethnographic observation, field research, unobtrusive research, existing sources, survey, or experimental methods. If you use human subjects you must obtain approval from the Luther Human Subjects Review Board. See your advisor about obtaining the forms!

What is acceptable research?

Acceptable research is that which generates new ideas or presents old ideas in a new way, remaining sociological in scope. While method and subject may vary widely, it is the perspective that makes your project sociological.

How long must it be?

Your senior project is expected to be journal article length, which is about 25 pages (typed and double-spaced with one inch margins).

What is a proper format?

Although the format is flexible, a traditional paper would be as follows: an introduction with a thesis statement, methods section, data results and analysis, and conclusion.

What happens if I don't complete the paper?

You will be unable to graduate without completing the senior project.

What happens to the paper after it's turned in?

Senior projects become the property of the department at the time they are submitted and are retained by the department. Comments about the paper may be returned to you under separate cover at the discretion of the advisor, or a consultation with your advisor will be scheduled. See your advisor for details.