What is an SMP?
The St. Mary’s Project is a year-long, 8-credit, independently designed and executed course of study intended as a capstone experience for a student’s time at St. Mary’s. Working in close conjunction with one or more professors, in or outside of the department, you have the opportunity to explore, in depth, a question or idea that entrances and intrigues you. Many—although by no means all—SMPs are interdisciplinary, bringing together threads from earlier classes taken across the curriculum. Many are highly personal, involving creative or innovative work that ties together four years of study in a meaningful way. SMPs can, in their final form, take the shape of research papers, collections of essays, anthologies of poetry, films, web sites, suites of paintings, graphic novels, operas—all these, and more, have been done in years past.
The College has established certain guidelines for the SMP:
- It must be student-initiated
- It must demonstrate methodological competence (by identifying an area to be explored and proposing a method of inquiry appropriate for the topic)
- It must draw on and extend knowledge, skills of analysis, and creative achievement developed through previous academic work. It must include a reflection on the social context, the body of literature, or the conceptual framework to which the project is a contribution
- It must be shared with the larger community through some form of public presentation.
First year students and sophomores:
- Consider your interests and keep track of favorite and interesting topics
- Don’t be too specific, keep it broad
- Talk to friends and seniors doing projects.
- Attend SMPs and look over the archives
First semester of junior year:
- Consider whether you want to collaborate with others. Note that collaborating with students will not necessarily make your work load easier
- Think about whether you want to do the project in two 4-credit blocks or employ some other sequence
Second semester of junior year:
- Narrow your choice to one or two topics
- Discuss and develop your topic ideas with faculty members who might be good mentors.
- Talk to the St. Mary’s Career Center if you want to include an off-campus component to your project.
- Decide if you will be collaborating with a fellow student.
- Have a good idea of what you want to do by advising day.
- Select a faculty mentor in the spring semester.
- Submit a formal proposal
- Work closely with your faculty mentor.
- Submit the budget request form by late October (option to resubmit in March).
- Complete research, hands-on experience, written essay, or poster.
- Present in the Spring semester
What to consider when finding a mentor:
- If you don’t select a mentor, the department will assign you one
- Talk to several professors about the project affect your project
- Your SMP mentor is not the same thing as your advisor
- Your SMP mentor does not have to be a professor in your department. Check with the English Department Chair
You should include a writing sample with your prospectus. Department faculty will review and make suggestions.
- 5 – 10, pages
- Writing samples for critical projects should be taken from an analytical essays
- Writing samples for creative projects should include a sample of your work in the genre of your SMP.
- Writing sample should be taken from a course at St. Mary’s.
SMP Papers Information
Submit your finished project to:
- Your mentor
- The Registrar (on CD/DVD)
- The Department (on CD/DVD)
- Division Office (on CD/DVD)
Your paper will be sent to Special Collections in the library; unless you request that your project remain private. The departmental copy will be added to a browsing collection of past projects on the department site.
SMP Paper Tips
- Images are acceptable on the title page
- Number your pages.
- If your project contains distinct chapters, essays, stories, etc., include a Table of Contents
- Print your project out double-sided. Insert blank pages throughout your document to keep the page order consistent.
- The Table of Contents, the body of your project, and your Bibliography should all begin on odd-numbered pages.
- Present the paper with a clear vinyl cover
- Your entire project must be submitted in one document in Microsoft Word or pdf.
SMP Papers Structure (suggested)
- Title Page (Minimum Information)
- Project Title
- Year of Completion
- Abstract (approx. 250 words)
- Dedication (if any)
- Mentor’s Name(s)
- Blank Page
- Table of Contents
- Table of Illustrations (if any)
- Acknowledgements (if any)
- Body of Project
- Appendices (if any)
- Bibliography (if any)
How to Choose a Topic
- What areas of Sociology interest you?
- What are your career interests?
- Do you want a project to include specific experiences such as doing an off-campus internship or conducting on-site research?
- What was your favorite class and why?
- Would a topic from a class be something you would like to pursue further?
Alternative Capstone Experience
In their senior year, majors may elect, instead of completing a St. Mary’s Project, to complete the Sociology Senior Seminar (SOCI 490) and one additional four-credit hour course in sociology at the 300 or 400 level.