Sociology concentrators are required to complete an original research project on a topic of their choice. This culminates in the BA thesis—a final paper ranging from twenty to forty pages in length.

Recent projects have included:

·      conflict and safety in urban Chicago neighborhoods

·      new forms of social interaction on the Internet

·      immigration and national identity in Germany and Guatemala

·      gender dynamics in the workplace

·      homosexuality and AIDS in South Africa

·      religion among Korean immigrants

·      public housing policies

·      role models among Mexican-American youth

·      gender roles in families

·      peer pressure and teenage pregnancy

·      American attitudes about immigration

Students devise their project, conduct their research, and write up their thesis over the course of the BA senior seminar (SOCI 29998), which runs from the spring quarter of the third year to the winter quarter of their fourth year. The class meets virtually on Thursdays from 6:00 - 7:20 pm CT for each of these quarters. Students complete and turn in their thesis during spring quarter of their fourth year. 

Students will work on their BA thesis under the guidance of a sociology preceptor and a faculty advisor. Students and their selected adviser must complete and turn in the advisor consent form to the sociology department office. Students may register for additional reading courses (SOCI 29997). Please note: only two sociology reading/research courses will be counted toward courses required for the sociology major. 


Faculty advisors may nominate students for honors if they meet the following criteria:

·      a cumulative GPA at or above 3.25

·      a sociology major GPA is at or above 3.5

·      a grade of at least A- in the BA thesis seminar

Be sure to discuss the criteria for honors with your individual faculty advisor. 

Thesis TIMELINE (during the BA seminar)

Spring of 3rd Year
During this quarter, you will:

  • Identify a subfield of sociology that interests you
  • Formulate a research question
  • Conduct a pilot study
  • Decide on a faculty advisor to help guide your project
  • Create a plan for summer data collection

During this quarter, you will:

  • Collect your data


Fall of 4th Year
During this quarter, you will:

  • Transcribe your data
  • Learn how to code and analyze your data
  • Develop an argument based on your analysis
  • Draft your data, methods, and results sections

Winter of 4th Year
During this quarter, you will:

  • Read and review the literature relevant to your research question
  • Draft your theoretical framework
  • Submit a rough draft of your thesis to your preceptor and peers
  • Participate in a peer review process

FAQ: What if I plan to study abroad during one of the three quarters of the required BA Thesis Seminar?

We encourage and support all sociology students who wish to study abroad during their UChicago experience. If students are abroad during the required BA-Thesis Seminar, we ask that they participate remotely. This means: keeping up with the readings via Canvas, completing light assignments on-time, participating in the discussion boards, and attending office hours with your assigned preceptor as needed. For students who are abroad, participation in the BA seminar tends to be asynchronous, with the exception of meetings with their preceptor and faculty advisor. (Those meetings are occasional and, with advance notice, easy to schedule around time differences.) You may be prevented from registering for the BA Thesis Seminar during the quarter you are abroad; plan to participate while you’re away, but register for the seminar during one of the quarters you will be in residence.

BA/MA Policy for the MA Thesis

Undergraduate sociology majors enrolled in the joint BA/MA program may write a single thesis that will meet both the BA and MA requirements for their degrees, subject to the approval of the Director of Undergraduate Studies in their major and the Faculty Director of their MA program.

The MA thesis is an article-length contribution to contemporary scholarship, drawing on original research, well-situated against the most recent and influential literatures, employing graduate-level methods, and conducted to professional standards. Students in the joint BA/MA program must complete all requirements for the MA degree, including any thesis or proposal workshops that their MA program may stipulate. The faculty advisor for the MA thesis and the faculty advisor for the BA thesis may be the same person. The undergraduate major may stipulate additional requirements.

Students who wish to be candidates for June degrees and departmental honors must submit the thesis to the major by the department’s deadline. Departmental approval of the BA thesis is separate from MA program approval of the MA thesis. The MA thesis must be approved by a faculty advisor and preceptor. Students must complete all BA/MA requirements, including the MA thesis, in time to graduate by the August following their full-time BA/MA curriculum.

BA/MA students in Sociology will enroll in the BA Seminar course and begin work on the thesis in Spring of their third year, conducting original research over the summer with appropriate IRB permissions. BA/MA students will work with a BA preceptor during the spring quarter and will be assigned an MA preceptor in September; they may submit a faculty-approved proposal early in the Fall quarter.

Students in a five-year BA/MA program (MACSS and CMES) will write a BA thesis in their fourth year, meeting all departmental requirements, and then develop an MA thesis that satisfies all MA requirements in their fifth year.