In consultation with an advisor, each student plans a major program that will nurture an understanding of society and the human condition, demonstrate how social and cultural knowledge are acquired through research, and enrich his or her general education. On the practical level, a major program prepares the student for graduate study in sociology or anthropology and contributes to preprofessional programs such as law and medicine. It also provides background preparation for careers in urban planning, public policy, the civil service, social work, business or personnel administration, social research, law enforcement and criminal justice, the health professions, journalism, secondary school teaching, and development programs.
A student may choose either of two major programs or two minor programs:
The major in sociology consists of ten courses, including Sociology 101, 201, 211, and 310. One or two of the ten courses may advanced courses from anthropology (or, if approved by the department chair, from related fields to meet the student's special interests) or off-campus study courses (with departmental approval). In all cases, at least seven of the courses counted toward the major must be Bowdoin sociology courses. Sociology 201 should be taken in the sophomore year.
The major in anthropology consists of nine courses, including Anthropology 101, 102, 201, 203, and 310, and one course with an area focus. Students are urged to complete Anthropology 101, 102, 201, and 203 as early as possible. One or two of the nine courses may be taken from the advanced offerings in sociology and/or, with departmental approval, from off-campus study programs. In all cases, at least seven of the courses counted toward the major must be Bowdoin anthropology courses.
The minor in sociology consists of five sociology courses, including Sociology 101, 201, and 211, and two other sociology courses. One of the elective courses may be from off-campus study.
The minor in anthropology consists of five anthropology courses, including Anthropology 101 and 203, either 102 or 201, and an area study course. One of the elective courses may be from off-campus study.
For the anthropology major or minor program, one semester of independent study may be counted. For the sociology major program, two semesters of independent study may be counted, while for the minor program one semester may be counted.
Interested in declaring a major or minor in Sociology or Anthropology? click here (PDF) for the appropriate form.
Study away in a demanding academic program can contribute substantially to a major in Sociology and Anthropology and to a student's overall education. Programs with a well supervised fieldwork component may be especially valuable. click here for department guidelines (PDF).
Independent study projects provide an opportunity for an interested student to explore a subject area of particular importance to her/him not otherwise available in the department’s curriculum. They allow students to pursue in depth field or library research as apprentice scholars or as policy analysts.
For more information on independent studies, click here (PDF).
Students distinguishing themselves in either major program may apply for departmental honors. Awarding of the degree with honors will ordinarily be based on grades attained in major courses and a written project (emanating from independent study), and will recognize the ability to work creatively and independently and to synthesize diverse theoretical, methodological, and substantive materials.
For more information on departmental honors, click here (PDF).
Matilda White Riley Prize in Sociology and Anthropology: This prize, established through a gift from distinguished sociologist John W. Riley '30, Sc.D. '72, honors Matilda White Riley, Sc.D.'72, Daniel B. Fayerweather Professor of Political Ecomony and Sociology Emerita, who established the joint Department of Sociology and Anthropology and a tradition of teaching through sociological research, is awarded for an outstanding research project by a major. (1987)
Elbridge Sibley Sociology Prize Fund: Established by Milton M. Gordon '39, the prize is awarded to the member of the senior class majoring in sociology or anthropology who has the highest general scholastic average in the class at the midpoint of each academic year. (1989)
David I. Kertzer Prize in Sociology and Anthropology : The prize is named in honor of David I. Kertzer, who was the first anthropologist in the joint Department of Sociology and Anthropology, and taught at Bowdoin from 1973 to 1992. This prize was established in 2003 to acknowledge overall excellence in an honors thesis or independent study paper by a senior major.
Distinguished Community Service Award in Sociology and Anthropology: The prize is awarded to the student majoring or minoring in sociology or anthropology who demonstrates outstanding leadership in community service and in furthering principles of social justice.
Seniors and juniors who are majoring or minoring in sociology or anthropology are eligible for the award. Preference will be granted to those who perform community service while enrolled at Bowdoin College.
Students may be nominated by a faculty member, a peer, or a community member. Nominations will consist of a Nomination Form (attached), as well as any supplemental materials that may assist the department in evaluating community service. Materials are to be received no later than April 1st. Click here (PDF) to download the nomination form.