Major/Minor Requirements

Majoring in Sociology

To sufficiently sample the range of substantive topics, questions and methods of sociology, the major includes four "core" theory and methods courses, plus five other courses. The major is organized to provide a strong foundation in both theory and research methods (through the core courses), 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.

The sociology courses at the 100-level introduce students to the basic concepts and analytical tools used in sociology and to the ways these tools are used within several sub-fields within the discipline. The intermediate courses (200-level) provide more demanding experience and training in sociological analysis, concentrating on a particular institution or social process in each course.

The sociology major will explore both classical (SOC 200) and contemporary (SOC 201) social theory. Along with this solid theoretical grounding, sociology majors complete a rigorous sequence in statistical techniques (SOC 190) and research methodology (SOC 290). In these courses, students acquire the skills necessary to describe patterns of human interaction. Statistical inference provides a formal link between sociological theory and social experience. Students learn formal methods of testing both theories and specific hypotheses with empirical data; they also learn how to evaluate the reliability of data and the uncertainty associated with various research methods. Although not required, other courses offer students training in qualitative research methods.

Permission to complete the core courses at another institution must first be obtained from the department chair. The core courses are:

  • Classical Sociological Theory (SOC 200)
  • Contemporary Social Theory (SOC 201)
  • Introduction to Social Science Data Analysis (SOC 190)
  • Methods of Social Research (SOC 290)

Although the department provides the opportunity to create "subdisciplinary" specializations, our first and primary goal is to help students explore the range of phenomenon 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. We believe that sociological inquiry is particularly enriched by courses in history, philosophy, English, economics, and anthropology, as well as the other social sciences. Similarly, the analytical skills of the sociologist are easily applicable to many other disciplines within the liberal arts. Thus, students are also encouraged to experience other areas of inquiry and should consult with a faculty member to organize a cohesive, wide-ranging course of study to both expand upon and complement the sociology major.

In planning your major, you should not think only of the courses offered in one department, but rather of those offered in the whole college. It often is a good idea to ask yourself what sorts of issues are important to you, and what kinds of skills or knowledge you would like to have by the end of your college career--not just so as to get a good job, but also so as to be a more effective citizen. 

Plans for a major should be filed with the department office after consultation and discussion with members of the faculty. According to College policy, students are expected to submit revised plans yearly.

Minoring in Sociology

The sociology minor is offered for students who wish to develop analytic skills in preparation for work or study in a wide array of fields. A minor in sociology is appropriate for students who seek to acquire a supplementary perspective that is informed by the sociological frame of reference. The minor consists of six courses:

  • any grade one unit (100-level)
  • Classical Sociological Theory (SOC 200)
  • at least four additional sociology courses, one of which must be at the 300-level.

A student wishing to add the sociology minor to her major should consult a faculty advisor in the sociology department in order to plan a cohesive, complementary plan of study.