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Social Welfare Senior Honors Program

Social Welfare Senior Honors Program

The Honors Program in Social Welfare (known as the Departmental Honors) provides an opportunity for qualified undergraduate majors in social welfare to study a topic of interest in depth and write a thesis on this topic. Graduating with Honors indicates an ability to independently examine and conduct a critical analysis of a social welfare topic and to write clearly and persuasively.

A broad range of topics are possible but generally the focus is on a social problem or a social welfare intervention or a theory relevant to social work or social welfare. Students are expected to demonstrate their thorough knowledge and critical understanding of the topic. The thesis is typically 40 pages in length, substantial enough to permit a description and detailed analysis of the topic.

The H195 course extends over two semesters. In the Fall semester, students enroll in a 1 unit (two hour) bi-weekly seminar when, under the direction of the instructor, they finalize the topic, write an abstract, prepare an outline and compile a bibliography. A thesis advisor will also be identified at this stage. To proceed to the Spring semester, students must receive an “A” grade for their work in the Fall seminar. In the Spring semester, students enroll for 3 units and write the thesis under the direction of a faculty adviser. The final draft of the thesis should be submitted to the adviser by the end of April but students are expected to submit regular drafts of their thesis chapters before then. Each student will agree a writing schedule with their adviser. The thesis is assessed by the adviser and a second reader who will assign a grade (which must be an “A” or “A+”) and designation of the level of honors to be awarded. Normally, students receive the designation of “Honors” and the designation of “High Honors” or “Highest Honors” is only awarded for exceptionally outstanding theses. In addition to completing the honors thesis, students must earn a 3.5 GPA in the major (the 4 required upper-division Social Welfare courses plus the  5 social sciences electives) and a 3.3 GPA overall to graduate with Honors.

Students who do not achieve an “A” or higher the Spring semester will be awarded a grade judged appropriate by the advisor but will not receive the degree with Honors. Students who do not receive an “A” grade for their work in the Fall seminar will be awarded a grade judged appropriate by the instructor but will not be permitted to enroll for the Spring semester thesis writing stage of the course. Incomplete will only be awarded in exceptional circumstances and will require a formal petition as required by the School supported by medical or other appropriate documentation.

Undergraduate students in the Social Welfare major who wish to be considered for admission to the Honors Program must have achieved at least a 3.5 grade point average in at least two core courses to be considered. They must also have completed course SW 110 and either have completed or be enrolled in course SW 112 and SW 114.

Eligible students will be contacted by the Undergraduate Adviser over the summer to determine if they want to apply. The School currently admits ten students per year to the Honors program. Those who apply will be ranked according to overall undergraduate GPA and their GPA in the major. They must also provide a brief outline of their proposed topic. Only topics for which the School has faculty advisers will be accepted. Students enrolled in the honors program must be in residence and are required to attend all prescribed classes and meetings with their advisers. 

Social Welfare Undergraduate Major