Senior Honors Program

Undergraduate Senior Honors Program

The Undergraduate Honors Program in Social Welfare (also known as "departmental honors" or "honors in the major") 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. Honors in the major is noted on the transcript and diploma.

To learn about honors for overall achievement at Berkeley, known as Distinction in General Scholarship at Graduation (or University Honors), please visit L&S Advising>Dean's List/Honors.

Honors Program Eligibility and Application Process

Undergraduate students in the Social Welfare major who wish to be considered for participation in the Honors Program must have achieved at least a 3.5 grade point average in at least two courses taken for the major to be considered. They must also have completed SOC WEL 110.

Applications for the Honors Program are made available in the summer, after spring semester final grades have been posted (typically in mid-June). Students are notified through the undergraduate major listserv when the honors application is available each year. Applications must be submitted by the deadline stated in the announcement and application. Late applications are not accepted, without exception.

The School currently admits 10 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.  Applicants are encouraged to review the School of Social Welfare website to learn more about individual faculty expertise.  Students enrolled in the honors program must be in residence and are required to attend all prescribed classes and meetings with their advisers. 

The Honors Thesis

Graduating with honors in the major 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.

Honors Thesis Timeline

As shown below, the SOC WEL H195 course extends over two semesters:

Fall Semester

Students enroll in SOC WEL H195 for a 1-unit seminar, which meets for 2 hours bi-weekly:

  • Students work with Instructor to finalize thesis topic, write abstract, prepare outline, draft and finalize Chapter 1 of the thesis, and compile a bibliography.
  • A thesis adviser is identified.
  • Students must obtain a grade of A or higher for their work in the Fall seminar in order to proceed to the Spring semester seminar. 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. 

Spring Semester

Students enroll in SOC WEL H195 for 3 units of independent study with their thesis adviser:

Under the direction of the faculty adviser, students will complete the thesis:

  • Student will submit drafts throughout the semester to their adviser.
    • Writing Schedule determined with adviser.
    • The final draft should be submitted to the adviser by the end of April.
  • The Thesis is assessed by the adviser and a second reader.
  • Students must obtain a grade of A or higher in order to be awarded departmental honors. Students who do not achieve an “A” or higher in the Spring semester will be awarded a grade judged appropriate by the thesis adviser, but will not receive the degree with honors in the major.

H195 'Incomplete' Grade Policy

For any SOC WEL H195 course, an Incomplete grade will only be awarded in exceptional circumstances, and will require a formal petition supported by appropriate documentation. Please consult the Undergraduate Major Adviser and your H195 seminar instructor or thesis adviser if you are experiencing unusual circumstances that may impact your ability to complete any section of H195.