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/Registration  Students pay a special membership rate of $25/year and lower pre-registration of $30 ($45 for registration just before/at the conference). Note: for the 2019 conference, we will be trying a special one day only registration fee for community college students and community college adjunct faculty only; payment will be collected at the PSA registration desk at the conference.

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 about July 1 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.  Applications for 2019 Student Travel Grants closed onFebruary 15, 2019.

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. Student Registration Waiver applications closed on March 1, 2019

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.  Look for Grad Fair again at PSA 2019!

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.

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. Student Volunteer applications closed on March 1, 2019  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.

Interested in Sharing Costs of a Hotel Room,
a Ride, Childcare, or an Adventure at PSA 2019 with Another Attendee?
Check Out

Go to and look up PSA 2019

This free-for-users app was created recently by grad students in the tech field who wanted to find a way to share costs with other students attending the same conference.  Anyone can sign up, then post what they want to share.  Your posts can only be viewed by others who sign up and search for the same conference. You can look for roommates for a stay at the conference hotel (almost sold out!), another hotel, an AirBnb, or…

Undergraduate Student Problem Solving Competition (USPSC)postponed to begin in 2020. The USPSC 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 third day of the conference. There will be an informational session for interested faculty at the 2019 conference.

Sessions and Events of Special Interest to Students at PSA 2019

Thursday, March 28

1:45-3:15 pm  Uptown   Student Affairs Committee meeting: Interested in learning more about student affairs in PSA, and maybe getting involved? Come to the meeting.

1:45-3:15 pm  Jr. Ballroom 3  Undergraduate Student Problem Solving Competition 2020 Information Session for Faculty   Interested in getting together a team from your school to compete in 2020? Come learn more.

3:30-5:00 pm   Working At the Community College: How to Become a Full Time Faculty Member at a Community College, sponsored by the Committee on Community Colleges (OCC 210-11)

5:15-6:45 pm  Putting Your Best Face Forward, sponsored by the Student Affairs Committee  (OCC 210-11) The objective of this workshop is to provide guidance for undergraduate and graduate students seeking to further their academic studies or gain employment. Our focus will be building a vita from the ground up. We will begin by differentiating resumés and vitas, basic formatting, what to include, and how to best highlight strengths without adding padding. We will follow with tailoring CVs to different career and academic goals. Finally, students will have an opportunity to participate in an interactive CV review with faculty members on the panel.

5:15-6:45 pm  Film & Presidential Session: F R E E: The Power of Performance  (OCC 201)  An award-winning documentary film following five teenagers who use dance and spoken word to transcend the violence, broken families and poverty in their lives. The film captures a life-changing year with the Destiny Arts Center in Oakland, California, as they work together to create a performance based on their life stories, and spotlights the power of artistic expression as the teens push themselves beyond their struggles to find strength, resilience and hope for the future.

6:45-9:00 pm   Welcome Reception, sponsored by the Membership Committee  (Skyline) Meet new people, learn a little about PSA, and enjoy refreshments and an amazing view of Oakland and the Bay.

Friday, March 29

8:30-10:00 am  Careers for BA and MA Sociologists, organized by the American Sociological Association (OCC 208) A sociology degree gives students the skills that college graduates need to succeed in the job market. This workshop will focus on strategies for cultivating those skills, communicating with employers, and finding the right job for you.

10:15-11:45 am  Undergraduate roundtable sessions (Jr. Ballroom) and poster sessions (Conference Foyer)

12:00-1:30 pm  Undergraduate roundtable sessions (Jr. Ballroom) and poster sessions (Conference Foyer)

1:45-3:15 pm  Grad Fair (Jr. Ballroom)  An opportunity for undergraduate students to meet with representatives from graduate programs across the PSA region. Light refreshments. Graduate programs include: New Mexico State University, San Diego State University, Northern Arizona University, California State University San Marcos, University of Nevada Las Vegas, University of Nevada Reno, Utah State University, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Colorado Denver, Humboldt State University, and Washington State University Pullman.

3:30-5:00 pm  Presidential Session: Hip Hop for Change  (OCC 208) Presentation by folks from Oakland non-profit Hip Hop for Change, similar to programs they offer in Bay Area schools, on the history and culture of hip hop and how local, community-based hip hop can be a social movement for challenging white supremacy, patriarchy, homophobia, and materialism and support empowerment, education, and efficacy.

5:15-6:45 pm Presidential Address and Awards Ceremony (Jr. Ballroom) Watch the presentation of PSA 2019 awards, and then listen to 2019 President Elaine Bell Kaplan’s Address, “Engaging Millennials: Researching and Teaching about Power, Diversity, and Change”.  Followed by the Presidential Reception 6:45-8:30 pm (Skyline) with food and a performance by graduate students from the Mills College dance program.

8:00-10:00 pm Student Reception, sponsored by the Student Affairs Committee (Jr. Ballroom) Games, giveaways, snacks, and a performance by folks from Oakland non-profit Hip Hop for Change.

Saturday, March 30

8:30-10:00 am  Surviving and Thriving:  Mental Health, Social Support, and Self-Care in Academia, sponsored by Student Affairs Committee (OCC 201)  In this panel, graduate students (in both MA and Ph.D. programs), recent graduates, and faculty will discuss how they navigate(d) mental health issues that arise during graduate school. The panelists will begin by discussing the sociological underpinnings of mental health and trauma in graduate school and academia more broadly. The remainder of the time will be devoted to the panel sharing self-care strategies they employ to help them heal in academia and the importance of social support. The last portion of the session will be guided by questions solicited from those in attendance.

8:30-10:00 am  How Can New Graduates Market Sociology as a Skill Set, sponsored by the Committee on Applied, Clinical, and Public Sociology (Jr. Ballroom)  Stephen Steele presents “Getting a Job with Sociology by taking SALT – Skills, Articulation, Language and Trends” and Robert Kettlitz “Translating Sociological Knowledge into Sellable Job Skills”.

10:15-11:45 am  Getting Jobs in Academia (OCC 201) Faculty from different types of institutions of higher education (Research, Public Teaching, Liberal Arts, Community College) discuss key practices for applying to jobs in academia, highlighting key differences across the different institutions that can be pitfalls to applicants. Discussion also includes key issues to consider throughout the process, including phone and campus interviews and how to prepare yourself.

10:15-11:45 am  Undergraduate roundtable sessions (Jr. Ballroom) and poster sessions (Conference Foyer)

12:00-1:30 pm Presidential Session: In Millennial Footsteps: Generation Z`s High School Student Movement (OCC 208) Youth activists are currently challenging and transforming this system through protest. This panel draws together some of California`s youth activists, youth organizers, and sociology`s leading scholars of youth social movements to lead a discussion on youth mobilization in the California context. The panelists have participated and/or researched educational justice organizing, youth voter engagement and mobilization, and immigrant youth movements. This panel will address the diversity of past and current youth activism in Los Angeles, the Central Valley, and the Bay Area, and it will present an opportunity to reflect on the role of sociologist and sociological research in community-based organizing.

12:00-1:30 pm  Undergraduate roundtable sessions (Jr. Ballroom) and poster sessions (Conference Foyer)

1:45-3:15 pm Be The Change You Wish To See In The World:  Teaching At The Community College Level, sponsored by the Membership Committee (OCC 210-11)  This panel will address the opportunities and rewards (as well as the challenges) presented by teaching at the community college level.  Panelists ranging from beginning to veteran instructors, who represent colleges in several different states, will share their experiences and have an in-depth Q&A regarding community college teaching as an academic career option.

1:45-3:15 pm  Undergraduate roundtable sessions (Jr. Ballroom) and poster sessions (Conference Foyer)

5:15-6:45 pm  How to Get Your Work Published: A Conversation with Editors of Sociological Perspectives and Members of the PSA Publications Committee, sponsored by the Publications Committee (OCC 208)

5:15-6:45 pm  You`re Not a Fraud: Recognizing and Overcoming Imposter Syndrome, sponsored by the Student Affairs Committee (OCC 210-11)  This is a panel discussion on the topic of imposter syndrome. Panelists will discuss their own experiences with imposter syndrome as well as effective strategies for overcoming this common issue that undergraduate and graduate students alike experience. Audience members will be invited to participate in the discussion, which will be facilitated by the organizer and presider (Laura Earles) with a series of questions.

Sunday, March 31

10:15-11:45 am  Presidential Session: #NextGenBlackSoc: New Directions in the Sociology of Black Millennials  (OCC 208) This multigenerational panel of advanced graduate students will discuss the way their research topics are brought together by the broad subject of Black Millennials and anchored in building towards a community of the Next Generation of Black Sociologists. Each of their research interests enter the conversation concerning the everyday life of this cohort of Black people from different subjects: civic engagement; family; gender; hiphop/pop culture, and religious identity. A panel discussion style surrounding these varying entry points allows for the panelists to discuss the unexpected variations that emerge when observing populations that are seemingly similar. In addition to their specific subject areas, each person will outline how their research methods take into consideration the use of the internet for context and as a way to contact this population for the use of ethnographic and interview work. Concluding with an informal discussion with the attendees, this panel will be informative with a mission to advance scholarly research in Sociology and more specifically on the everyday life of Black Millennials.

12-1:30 pm  Presidential Session: Reconstructing Expertise on Resistance: What We Can Learn from Young Communities of Color Mobilizing against Social Inequality (OCC 208)  This panel will enact a critical dialogue on community resistance and youth agency and resilience to bridge the gap between scholar activism and youth-led community-based efforts combating social injustices. Historically, critical dialogue has omitted low-income communities of color and youth voices. Academic spaces often remain inaccessible to community members in a multitude of ways: geographically, structurally, and intellectually. Thus, omitting young people`s voices  in these spaces reifies expertise on resistance to sites of structural oppression as legitimate only by certain actors, namely white scholars studying communities of color for academic purposes. This panel aims to de/re-construct who is commonly thought of as knowledge-producers in the research areas of cultural resistance, grassroots activism, and structural inequality. As graduate students doing researching with (not on) youth of color activists, we are consciously making space for youth by inviting them to share their stories on political engagements and resistance to the issues in their low-income communities. We also seek to share how we, as members of these communities and as researchers in academia, negotiate our own lived experiences as women of color through our community-based scholarship and research methodologies. This panel will touch on a variety of issues that affect communities of color across California, such as young women of color`s rural activism in California`s Central Valley, social justice participatory undergraduate research in public health, and international travel as a vital tool for learning and identity formation.

Information for Students Presenting in Undergraduate Roundtable or Poster Sessions

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.

Membership and Registration

If you have not already paid, please do so as soon as possible.  Registration cost will increase by $15 for late/onsite registration. Pre-registering helps PSA to plan for the conference—to order appropriate conference materials as well as food and beverages for receptions. Pre-registered attendees can check in very quickly at the conference, while those who have not paid appropriate fees will need to wait in line.

All student presenters need to pay both membership and registration.  You can find full information here:

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

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, as well as 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. Someone in each session needs to bring a laptop; all presenters who can are encouraged to bring a laptop, as this provides more backups in case of an unexpected absence or issue with a laptop that will not connect well with the projector. 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. An emergency loaner laptop is available for checkout at the PSA Registration area–and must be brought back immediately after the session!

PSA does not provide wifi in meeting rooms unless a presenter has requested it–it is just too expensive!  Any special technology/other requests must have been made along with paper submission.

Membership and Registration:

If you have not already paid, please do so as soon as possible.  Registration cost will increase by $15 for late/onsite registration. Pre-registering helps PSA to plan for the conference—to order appropriate conference materials as well as food and beverages for receptions. Pre-registered attendees can check in very quickly at the conference, while those who have not paid appropriate fees will need to wait in line.

All presenters need to pay both membership and registration, but there are a few exceptions.  You can find full information here:

A few special speakers, invited by the President, do not have to pay membership and registration.  If you are one of these folks, we have your information and will have a badge ready for you to pick up at the PSA Registration area.