Sample 4-Year Plan for Social Sciences

This is designed to give you suggestions of how you might combine research activities over four years of college and can be adapted for any discipline.

Freshman year

Fall semester

  • Enter Mizzou and begin course work.
  • Discuss research interests with academic adviser and course instructors.
  • Offer to volunteer helping a history faculty member by looking up census data in the library every Thursday afternoon.

Spring semester

  • Continue volunteering with census data, and start working Tuesday and Friday mornings.
  • Interview faculty members of interest to look for a summer job on campus and find out what opportunities might be available at home.
  • Attend faculty research seminars and the Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievements Forum to get more ideas.

Summer semester

  • Enroll in a summer school class at Mizzou and decide to work 20 hours a week entering census data collected last semester into spread sheets for faculty mentor (get paid!).

Sophomore year

Fall and spring semesters

  • Continue to attend faculty research seminars and campus poster sessions.
  • Freshman year mentor is on sabbatical in England. Begin working with faculty member in Department of Anthropology looking up research articles for a literature review on religious practices of Native Americans in Oklahoma circa 1910.
  • Look for summer field schools during winter break.
  • Early during the winter semester prepare applications for summer field schools.
  • Write a paper for religious studies class based on some of the work you have done with your anthropology mentor.

Summer semester

  • Spend summer in North Dakota at a field school searching for archaeological evidence of contact between Native Americans and European traders. Get a sunburn, make lots of friends and unearth your first projectile point.

Junior year

Fall and spring semesters

  • History mentor is back from England. Spend 10 hours a week during the fall semester helping her clean up census data and plug in missing years.
  • Take more courses in anthropology, history and religious studies.
  • Spend 15 hours a week as an intern in the Missouri Historical Society assisting with manuscripts related to Native Americans in Missouri.
  • Begin searching for summer programs at other universities and institutions and apply in January and February.
  • Begin to explore interdisciplinary graduate programs using the Web and faculty contacts you’ve made at MU and in North Dakota.
  • Outline project for senior thesis/capstone project and apply for funding through the College of Arts and Science.
  • Study for and take the GRE exam.
  • Present your project from the Missouri Historical Society at the Undergraduate Research Conference in May.

Summer semester

  • Do research at the Smithsonian American Indian Museum looking at religious artifacts of Northwest Native American tribes.
  • Narrow down graduate school options and collect application materials.

Senior year

Fall and spring semesters

  • Register for senior capstone credit for your research on religious beliefs and practices of Native Americans in the Midwest in the 1950s. This research allows you to combine your experience with census data and interest in Native American religions.
  • Work with your faculty mentors to plan for research publication.
  • Attend American Anthropological Association Meeting to present your research and talk with faculty from universities with strong graduate programs in your chosen field.
  • Put together application materials for graduate school and mail applications during winter break.
  • Apply for national graduate fellowship awards.
  • Find time over winter and spring break to assist with preparing a new display case in the Museum of Anthropology on religious artifacts of Native Americans.
  • Interview at graduate schools and make a decision on which offer to accept.


  • Participate in Honors Convocation with your mentor by your side.
  • Find out that your publication has been accepted with only minor revisions.
  • Go out for a final lunch with your mentors and graduate students working on similar projects.
  • Pack up your belongings and prepare for the next phase of your career!