For Students

Students, from community college to doctoral programs, make up just over half of PSA members and conference attendees. One of PSA’s main missions is to support future sociologists. Therefore, students are able to participate in PSA in many ways.

Membership/Conference/Participation Fee  The student rate for 2021 is $50. There is also a special 2021 rate for persons who have been seriously economically impacted by COVID-19. See here for full information and access to the PSA portal to pay these fees. All presenters must pay their fees by March 1 to remain on the program.

For the 2021 conference, we will offer a special Conference Observer/Audience Only fee for students and adjunct faculty who are not presenting. To ensure timely access to the conference, make this purchase before March 1; after that date, new purchasers will be given access as time allows. This fee does not confer any benefits besides access to the virtual conference. To purchase Observer/Audience Only access, use this link.

If you would like to pay for multiple students–either presenting and paying regular fees or non-presenting and paying the Observer fee–please email so that we can arrange for you to make one payment, and have it applied to the correct students.

Presenting at PSA   Undergraduate students can submit to present their work at the conference in one of two formats–a poster or roundtable session.

The submission system is usually open from July to October 15 each year, with the conference scheduled sometime from mid-March to mid-April.

Graduate students can submit to present their work in regular sessions for research in progress or formal papers, and then will present alongside faculty and other professional sociologists/etc.

PSA strives to be an inclusive and supportive place for students to make their first presentations. If your submission is complete (provides the requested information), it is very likely that it will be accepted.  PSA provides 50 Student Travel Grants of $200 (beginning in 2019; was $125 in former years) to students who are presenting, have prepaid membership and registration, and then apply and are randomly selected from the pool of applicants. Applications are accepted in January/February each year through the PSA website. Note: Student Travel Grants will not be offered in 2021, as the conference is virtual.

Attending the PSA Conference     Student registrants are welcome to attend any of the more than 200 sessions at the conference, and often report amazement at the wide variety of topics addressed through presenters’ research.  Attending sessions on topics you are interested in can be a great way to explore sociology and think about your future as a sociologist!

PSA offers 40 Registration Waivers each year for students who are not presenting their research.  A registration waiver allows the student recipient to attend any/all sessions and events at the PSA conference without paying a registration fee. It does not provide any funding for travel, lodging, food, etc. Applications for waivers can be made on the PSA website in January/February, and recipients are randomly selected from the pool of applicants.  Registration waiver recipients do not receive membership. Note: Registration Waivers will not be offered for 2021, as the conference is virtual.

Each year the PSA Student Affairs Committee and other committees sponsor some special sessions aimed at students–on topics like applying for graduate school, getting a job teaching at a community college, how to make the most of your conference experience, and much more. In 2017, PSA held its first Grad Fair, where representatives from various graduate schools in the PSA region staffed tables to meet undergraduate students and share information about their programs.  We are working on a virtual Grad Fair for PSA 2021.

Each year the PSA Student Affairs Committee holds a Student Reception with free food, book giveaways, games and prizes, and lots of chances to meet and mingle with students and faculty from other schools.  Students are also welcome to attend other receptions for more food, fun, and mingling.  We are working on possibilities for this at the virtual 2021 conference.

Other Ways to Participate in PSA     Students are able to be appointed to most PSA committees; you can find information on this when you sign up for your PSA membership.  Each year, one graduate student  is elected to the governing Council (Board).

Students also can volunteer to help at the PSA registration area at the conference.  This is a great way to learn more about PSA and meet people. Signups for volunteers go up on the website each January–and slots fill up very quickly!  Beginning in 2019, student volunteers will be able to receive up to a $50 reimbursement for necessary travel-related costs (transportation, lodging, food) in order to serve as a volunteer, by submitting receipts after the conference.   Watch for emails from PSA; volunteer slots are filled based on who responds to confirm that they will serve in the slot they are offered.  We will not be offering these volunteer opportunities for the 2021 virtual conference.

Undergraduate Student Problem Solving Competition (USPSC)

The USPSC–sponsored and run by the PSA Committee on Practicing, Applied, and Clinical Sociology–provides students with a meaningful way to exercise their sociological skills by responding to a problem/challenge posed by a local community organization.  Students work in teams of 2 to 4, and must have a faculty sponsor from their school. More than one team from a school may participate.  Teams will be given a statement of the problem one week prior to the conference. They then must attend a session in the afternoon of the first day of the conference to hear more about the problem and the community organization. Teams will present their solutions at a special session on the evening of the third day of the conference–with the ‘winning’ team receiving an award of $200. We will not have this competition for the 2021 virtual conference.

PSA Student Problem Solving 2020 Information
2020 PSA Student Problem Solving Competition Judging Rubric

Information for Students Presenting in Undergraduate Roundtable or Poster Sessions

***Students presenting at the 2021 virtual conference will receive detailed informaton about how we are adapting roundtable and poster sessions this year.***

Roundtable Sessions Roundtable sessions are organized thematically. These sessions provide undergraduate students an opportunity to present completed research in a semiformal setting. A faculty or advanced graduate student discussant will preside over each session. Once a student paper has been accepted for presentation, you will be instructed to send a completed copy of your research to the discussant for review. Discussants will provide constructive feedback to students regarding issues associated with but not limited to the quality of the writing, literature review, the research methodology, and conclusions.

Typically, about seven roundtables run at the same time, in a large ballroom. Look for the table designated for your topical area.  You and usually four or five other students in your roundtable will have approximately 15 minutes each to present your research. Once all presentations have been made you will have an opportunity to receive feedback, ask questions, and have general discussion.

No technology is provided for roundtables! You do want to come with a prepared presentation, so that you are organized and ready to share the important points of your paper. You should not simply read your paper. If you have data you need to show your tablemates, you may want to bring a few handouts or printed material with graphic representations. Do not bring a large poster.

Although people who want to hear the presentations of undergraduate students at the roundtables are welcome to come and stand around the table (or sit if there is space), the focus is for the student presenters to be in conversation with each other and their discussant, rather than presenting to any larger audience. Listeners are asked to just listen, unless they are invited to join in the discussion at the end of the session.

Poster Sessions Poster presentations are very informal. There is no discussant assigned to your poster session, and you will not get faculty feedback regarding your research. There are no required guidelines or formats to follow. Two examples: Poster templates. You can find many resources online to create your poster. You will have a maximum of 4 X 8 feet of space to present information about your research. Think about how you will bring your poster and keep it free of creases.  When you arrive at the session location, you may choose where to hang your poster. PSA will provide boards and tacks for you to hang your paper.  Then you need to stand by your poster, explaining your work and answering any questions to people who come by to see it. Poster sessions are held in high traffic areas to encourage attendees to come and talk with you.  Most visitors to the poster session will want to roam through and look at various posters, so they will likely spend just a few minutes with you before moving on.

Although it is great for your friends to come and visit your poster, you want to make sure that you are available to talk with other folks.  It is okay if you have some moments of just standing there, waiting; that is often a cue to visitors that it is a good time to come talk with you.

Information for Graduate Students, Faculty, and Others Presenting in Formal Paper or Research in Progress Sessions

***Presenters in the 2021 virtual conference will received specific information about the technological setup this year.***

These guidelines are for presenters in regular sessions (formal paper or research in progress paper sessions), to help you prepare to present your paper at PSA.

Length of Presentations:

The amount of time you have for presenting depends on how many papers are in your 90 minute session.  Please keep in mind that it takes time to transition from paper to paper, including accessing any powerpoint presentations you have, and that you need to leave time for questions. The Presider will have to cut off presenters who go beyond their allotted time.

  • For sessions with 4 papers, please limit your talk to 15 minutes.
  • For sessions with 5 papers, please limit your talk to 12 minutes.
  • For sessions with 3 or fewer presenters, please limit your presentation to 20 minutes.

It is best to take questions after all have presented, rather than after individual presentations, to ensure ample time for all papers to be heard.

Session Information:

Each session has both an Organizer and a Presider.  The Organizer is the person who put the session together; they may or may not be present at the session itself.  The Presider is a volunteer, often one of the presenters from the session, who is responsible for helping the session run smoothly–reminding presenters of time guidelines, usually introducing each presenter, and also communicating with PSA if there are any technology or other problems. If for some reason the Presider does not show up, someone else will need to take on these tasks.


PSA provides a fairly new LCD projector with SVGA, USB, and HDMI inputs and connector cords, a basic laptop, and a screen. These projectors may not connect well with older laptops, or laptops running unusual software—and many smaller devices such as tablets do not have the necessary ports to connect to the projector.  A limited supply of special Mac connectors are available for checkout at the PSA Registration area, but the variety of Mac connectors changes quickly and they tend to be quite expensive, so we may not have the right one for your device.  The projectors typically automatically link to a laptop once they are correctly connected and powered up. You can connect your own laptop to the PSA projector, or use the PSA laptop. If you will use slides or other projected files as part of your presentation, bring it on a thumb drive (even if you bring your own laptop).  It works best if all presenters share one laptop and preload their files to this laptop prior to the start of the session.

Any special technology/other requests must have been made along with paper submission.