Sociology Major

In consultation with an advisor, each student plans a major program that nurtures an understanding of society and the human condition, demonstrates how social and cultural knowledge are acquired through research, and enriches their general education. On the practical level, a major program prepares the student for graduate study in sociology and contributes to preprofessional programs such as law and medicine. It also provides background preparation for careers in education, nonprofit work, humanitarian and international development, the civil service, research development, law enforcement and criminal justice, journalism, medicine, public health and allied health professions, business, public policy, social work, and urban planning, among others.

The major in sociology consists of ten courses.

Required Courses
Core Courses a5
SOC 1101
Introduction to Sociology
SOC 2010
Introduction to Social Research b
SOC 2020
Quantitative Analysis in Sociology
SOC 2030
Classics of Sociological Theory
SOC 3010
Advanced Seminar: Current Controversies in Sociology
Select five additional courses: 1000–1049, 2000, and above. a5
  • Up to two semesters of independent study or honors work may count toward the major.
  • With department approval, the remaining three of the ten required courses for the major may include two from any department or program on campus and one off-campus study course, or two off-campus study courses and one from any department or program on campus. 

Sociology Minor

The minor in sociology consists of five courses.

Required Courses
SOC 1101Introduction to Sociology1
Select four additional courses: 1000–1049, 2000, and above. a4
  • One semester of independent study may count toward the minor.

Additional Information and Department Policies

  • In order for a course to fulfill the major or minor requirements in sociology, a grade of C- or above must be earned in that course.
  • Courses that count toward the major or minor must be taken for regular letter grades (not Credit/D/Fail).
  • One first-year writing seminar can count toward the major or minor in sociology.
  • Majors and minors may double-count an unlimited number of courses with another department or program.

Independent Study

For the sociology major program, two semesters of independent study may be counted, while for the minor program one semester may be counted.

Departmental Honors

Students distinguishing themselves in the major program may apply for departmental honors during the second semester of their junior year. Awarding of the degree with honors is ordinarily based on grades attained in major courses; a recognition of the ability to work creatively and independently and to synthesize diverse theoretical, methodological, and substantive materials; and a written project based on independent research.

Off-Campus Study

Study away in a demanding academic program can contribute substantially to a major in sociology. Students are advised to plan study away for their junior year. Students should complete the research methods course, SOC 2010 Introduction to Social Research, before studying away. Students must obtain provisional approval for their study-away courses in writing by department faculty before they leave for study away, and then seek final approval upon their return to Bowdoin.

Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate

No credit is given for Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate coursework. 

Information for Incoming Students

Sociology is the study of the social lives of people, groups, and societies. Sociology courses cover a range of topics, most of them addressing differences and inequalities among people and groups. Our courses include ones dealing with race and ethnicity; public health; education; sexuality; families; urban sociology; reproductive politics; immigration issues, media, and many others.

The sociology department offers several courses appropriate for any first-year student. In addition to a first-year writing seminar, SOC 1018 Black Radical Thinkers and the Caribbean, one section of the core course, SOC 1101 Introduction to Sociology will be offered in the fall semester and one section in the spring semester.

None of these 1000-level courses assumes any prior work in sociology, and all of these courses contribute to the major or minor in sociology. SOC 1101 Introduction to Sociology is the required gateway course (prerequisite) to other department courses at the 2000-level and introduces students to the different areas and sub-fields of sociology; taking it early will allow a student access to a wide range of courses in the department.

This is an excerpt from the official Bowdoin College Catalogue and Academic Handbook. View the Catalogue