The Social Science Scholar Experience

As a Social Science Scholar, your curriculum will include seminars, research projects, off-campus study, overseas study, and internships that enhance your required university and major departmental classes. Our program’s academic advisor will work closely with you to craft an educational plan that is specifically suited to your individual interests and goals. Each stage of the Social Science Scholars program offers its own unique features designed to promote engaged scholarship.

Freshman Scholars

During your first year as a Social Science Scholar, you’ll draw from a broad range of academic experiences that will culminate in you developing a research question that will be used to write a chapter in a Social Science Scholar volume published in your second or third year in the program. Here are the highlights of the first year:

  • Year-long introduction to the major concepts, themes and debates in the social sciences.The freshman year is spent studying humans in the social and natural environments. The first semester starts by looking at the development of personality, the influence of the family and peer groups, and moves on to examine human behavior at the level of social class, nation and global region. The second semester is spent learning about how humans have interacted with the natural environment, with a particular emphasis on contemporary challenges and environmental policy.
  • Twice-weekly seminars. You’ll join the program director and other Social Science Scholars for regularly scheduled seminars featuring a series of invited speakers from MSU, the broader community, or other universities who will share their insights and expertise. 
  • Small-group assignment. Narrowing your focus to a compelling sub-topic, you’ll work with a small group of like-minded Social Science Scholars. Your group will not only regularly consult with the program director, but also confer with faculty members who have expertise in your particular field of research.
  • Off-campus experience. You’ll have opportunities to meet with almuni mentors who can offer support, advice and, in some cases, internship opportunities.
  • Overseas study. You’ll spend several weeks of the summer in your freshman year studying abroad, gaining an international perspective on what you have learned on campus during stays on London and Oxford. You will also have a week in which to enjoy the Lake District while making progress on your research project.

Sophomore Scholars

During your second year as a Social Science Scholar, you’ll spend the first semester enrolled in a research course in which you will have time to complete your research project and prepare it for publication. In the second semester, you’ll study a series of modules related to historical and contemporary challenges with your fellow Scholars, again learning from experts from MSU and around the world. Here are some other second year highlights:

  • Publication. With the guidance of your faculty mentor, you’ll prepare your research project and submit it for publication in the next volume of the Social Science Scholars Research book. You will also be well prepared to present your work at the University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum in the spring semester. 
  • Summer internship. You’ll gain valuable practical experience as a summer intern. You might opt to intern in one of many U.S. locations, including Washington, DC, New Orleans, New York, Boston, or Hawaii. Or you might wish to intern overseas. We will help you to identify internship opportunities. You may also work directly with an MSU College of Social Science alumni who can help to advance your career goals and particular interests.

Junior and Senior Scholars

By your third and fourth years as a Social Science Scholar, you'll be well established in your declared major course of study. You’ll be encouraged to continue your involvement with the Social Science Scholars Program: there are opportunities to serve on the Leadership Council and volunteer to help with recruitment efforts. You might also enroll in honors classes to enrich your specific curriculum and pursue additional off-campus study or internship opportunities with the help of the program’s academic advisor and director.