Goals for the Sociology Major
- Exercise the “sociological imagination” by envisioning interrelationships between biography, history and social structure; formulating questions that look beyond “taken-for-granted assumptions; and mastering fundamental sociological concepts and theories.
- Recognize, compare, and assess the strengths and weaknesses of various sociological research methods.
- Evaluate the reliability of various forms of empirical data and interpret them using qualitative and quantitative analysis.
- Construct and support original arguments using theory and evidence and be able to communicate these clearly using strong speaking, writing, and technological skills.
- Apply sociological thinking to complement and maximize experiential learning opportunities, such as internships and study abroad.
- Suggest practical applications and/or policy implications for sociological inquiry and knowledge.
Requirements for the Sociology Major
A major in sociology consists of at least nine units. The core of the major consists of four required courses that emphasize basic concepts, theory, and research methods that are at the foundation of the discipline and are also useful in a range of social sciences and professions. These courses are SOC 190, SOC 200, SOC 290, and an additional social theory course such as SOC 201, SOC 226, or SOC 312. Students must take at least five additional units, two of which must be at the 300-level (excluding SOC 360 and SOC 370). One of the 300-level units may be SOC 350.
All four core units and the two 300-level units should be taken at Wellesley. Students wanting to count towards the major core or elective units taken at other institutions should obtain permission from the department chair in advance of taking these courses. We accept only two transfer credits from other institutions. It is recommended that students complete the sequence of theory and methods courses by the end of their junior year if they hope to conduct independent research or honors projects during their senior year. If a major anticipates being away during all or part of the junior year, the theory (SOC 200, SOC 201, SOC 226, SOC 312 or other approved courses) and research methods course (SOC 290) should be taken during the sophomore year if at all possible or an alternative plan should be arranged with the student’s advisor.
SUBSTITUTES FOR SOC 190:
Non-sociology introductory statistics courses offered here at the college (e.g., Psych 205, Stat 218, QR 180, Math 220) or at some other institution may be used to "place out" of SOC 190 but will not count as a unit toward the Sociology major. In other words, students who place out of the SOC 190 requirement in this way must take an additional elective course in Sociology to reach the minimum of nine units for a major.
Wellesley College’s sociology major provides a strong foundation in both theory and research methods, while allowing students to tailor their major to their specific subject interests. A sociology major also offers students several opportunities for both individual and group projects. Although the department provides the opportunity to create sub-disciplinary specializations, our first and primary goal is to help students explore a range of topics that can be understood through sociological perspectives and methods. Therefore, the department encourages students to explore both the breadth of the sociology curriculum and the larger Wellesley College curriculum.
Each major is required to complete a major portfolio that will track their progress through the sociology curriculum and learning goals. Students wishing to major or minor in sociology should consult a faculty advisor in the department in order to devise a plan of study and portfolio.
Honors in Sociology
To graduate with honors in sociology, students may write a traditional thesis paper or they may choose an alternative form for a major intellectual project. For example, students may conduct original research on a question or topic of their choice and produce a series of podcasts, digital stories, a photo essay with an accompanying catalogue, a digital archive accompanied by a narrative, or a documentary movie. By offering students the ability to select between a broader range of projects, we hope that more students with a variety of learning styles and interests will participate in the honors experience. At its essence, this remains an opportunity to wrestle deeply with an intellectual or policy problem, to sharpen a student’s methodological and analytical tool kit, and to publicly present the results in a way that is suitable and enriching.
Students interested in doing any kind of thesis project should speak with a potential advisor during their junior year. Together, they will agree upon the broad contours of the project including the main questions, methods, outputs, and timeframe. Students should submit a 2-3 page project proposal to the department by May 1st in order to get approval before the end of the academic year.
To be admitted to the honors program, a student must have a grade point average of at least 3.5 in all work in the major field above the 100 level; the department may petition on her behalf if her GPA in the major is between 3.0 and 3.5. See Academic Distinctions.