The Senior Experience: Class of 2021

Senior Seminar

All seniors must take a Senior Seminar, which will be offered in the spring. It will be writing-focused but will not have a single large research paper as its final assignment. The idea is to have students focus on their writing in a series of assignments, emphasizing, as the college-wide writing requirement suggests, the process and elements of good writing. Professor Karen will teach this course and will develop a syllabus that can accommodate many student interests with a broad focus (say, power or culture or inequality or …). The assignments, in addition to ensuring good writing process (e.g., multiple drafts), will require students to do different kinds of writing: for example, book reviews, op-ed pieces, policy recommendations, etc. The idea is to continue (following on Junior Seminar) to prepare students with good skills in sociological writing, while not burdening the (optional) thesis-writers (see below) with multiple, term-long assignments.  

Senior Thesis: Procedures and Substance

Seniors in the Class of 2021 will have the option of doing a one-semester thesis in the fall, a one-semester thesis in the spring, or a two-semester thesis (one grade for the year). Senior theses are due when all written work is due at the end of the fall or spring semester (before final exams). To become eligible to write a senior thesis, a student must have a minimum 3.3 GPA in Sociology. (This will also be the minimum GPA for a student to do an independent study in sociology.) Students will need to approach a faculty member as early as possible about the possibility of advising their thesis and will need to indicate in their thesis proposal their “preferred adviser.” The Department will attempt to follow these preferences but will take responsibility for assigning an adviser. 

Students who wish to write a senior thesis will need to submit by July 15 to the Chair of Sociology (David Karen: ) a 1-2 page thesis proposal that includes the following information: 

  1.  Proposed term of thesis-writing: fall-semester; spring-semester; both semesters.  
  2.  Timeline: brief indication of when the data will be collected, when / how it will be analyzed, when the write-up will take place, etc.
  3.  Preferred adviser
  4. Thesis proposal (should include the research question, its sociological significance, the proposed method, plan of analysis, and anticipated value).  
    • The thesis proposal should also state clearly whether the research will require IRB approval, if approval has already been secured, or when it will be secured. 
    • Please indicate if you’ve had any previous preparation/work in the thesis-topic area.

The Chair will distribute the proposals to department members, collect their comments, and inform the student of a yes/no decision by Aug. 3. Please note that students who are not selected to do a senior thesis may still pursue independent work with a faculty member (if their GPA in the major is 3.3 or above). If you are unsure of whether your topic is really a “Thesis,” you should discuss this with a faculty member. The following broad categories of work have been considered in the past to be theses: students conduct an analysis of empirical data (this can be qualitative or quantitative; collected by the student or by someone else; contemporary or historical; etc.) or students undertake to research a question using already published evidence (so, the thesis could be a very focused, extensive literature review). Students would be welcome to propose developing further a research paper that they wrote in a course. This kind of proposal needs to be very specific as to what the new/additional goals are.


Contact Us

Department of Sociology

Dalton Hall
Bryn Mawr College
101 N. Merion Avenue
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010-2899
Phone: 610-526-5030 or 610-526-5331