2016-2017 Academic Catalog 
    May 30, 2024  
2016-2017 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Sociology Major

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Sociology Overview

The American sociologist C. Wright Mills described the perspective of sociology as the “sociological imagination.” This point of view enables us to see the ways in which individual lives are shaped by larger social forces. Mills argues that we cannot fully understand ourselves without understanding the society in which we live.

At Clark, the sociology faculty are committed to developing such an analytical capacity in students. We are committed to developing your capacity to understand the relations between local situations and larger structures. Through the examination of social processes, such as social stratification, social movements and social change, and through an investigation of diverse social institutions, such as law, family, medicine and religion, students acquire the conceptual and analytical tools to enhance both their understanding of their own lives and the world in which they live.

One of the questions most frequently asked by students is “What can I do with a degree in sociology?” Because of the emphasis placed on critical thinking, analytical and communicative skills, and methodological training, students majoring in sociology are well equipped to enter a variety of occupations as well as professional and graduate schools. Sociology majors have gone to law school, medical school, social work programs, and business school. Others have become marketing analysts, city planners, government policy analysts, university administrators, and political consultants.

For more information, please visit the Sociology Department’s website.

Major Requirements

The sociology major consists of eleven courses within the department, which must include the following:


Majors must also complete two of the following three research-related courses:

These courses may be taken in any order.

Majors should plan to complete Classical Sociological Theory (SOC 107) and the two required research courses prior to the senior year. Classical Sociological Theory  (SOC 107) is a prerequisite for Class, Status and Power  (SOC 200).

Students may substitute the following courses for the required research courses in sociology:

Sociology Course Substitution
SOC 202   PSCI 107 - Research Methods  
SOC 204  

ID 132 - Research Methods for International Development and Social Change 

  PSYC 109 - Qualitative Methods in Psychology  
SOC 206   ECON 160 - Introduction to Statistical Analysis  
  GEOG 110 - Introduction to Quantitative Methods  
  MATH 217 - Probability and Statistics  
  PSYC 105 - Statistics  



The two required research courses must be taken from two different categories, represented by SOC 202, SOC 204, and SOC 206.

All majors must also complete six additional sociology credits, one of which must be a capstone. At least three of these six courses must be at the 200 level. These credits may be fulfilled through the completion of six regular courses or through a combination of coursework, internships (maximum of two credits), or directed study.

Of the five required courses for the major, three must be taken on campus. Of the eleven total courses for the major, six must be taken on campus. COPACE courses are not counted for sociology credit. To receive credit toward the sociology major, students must earn a course grade of C- or better.


The Capstone Requirement

Sociology majors must take a capstone seminar. To enroll in a capstone seminar, students must have completed Introduction to Sociology (SOC 010  or SOC 012  ), Classical Sociological Theory (SOC 107  ), and at least one – and ideally both – required courses in research methods. Each capstone seminar also lists an additional prerequisite.

The capstone seminar builds on knowledge gained in previous courses and includes a significant research component. All courses numbered between 270 and 296 are capstone seminars.  SOC 297 Senior Honors  also fulfills the capstone requirement.


Department Honors and Awards

Addams-Mills Award

In 1983-84, the Sociology Department established the Addams-Mills Award. This award is given annually to honor one or two graduating sociology majors who exemplify the ideas and community service of Jane Addams, a founder of community-based social work and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and the intellectual tradition of C. Wright Mills, an outspoken sociologist and critic of American power structures. To be considered for this award, a student must have a GPA of 3.5 or higher. Students who wish to apply must submit a one-page description of their community service since coming to Clark. This award is given at commencement.

Alpha Kappa Delta Honor Society

The Sociology Department has been accepted as a charter member of Alpha Kappa Delta, the International Sociology Honor Society. The purpose of Alpha Kappa Delta is to promote human welfare through the association of a fellowship group interested in developing scientific knowledge that may be applied to the solution of social problems.

Student scholarship is recognized by Alpha Kappa Delta in several ways. The society sponsors student travel to regional meetings, supporting those who want to present their work and learn from the scholarly presentations of others. For example, one of our past graduates received an award to travel to the American Sociological Association meeting. Alpha Kappa Delta sponsors annual student paper contests, presenting awards that include monetary prizes, travel support, and scholarships. In addition, by funding research symposia and honoraria for guest speakers, the society supports chapter activities that further education.

Students who are sociology majors in their junior or senior year with an average GPA of 3.3 and at least 3.0 in the sociology major are eligible for lifetime membership in Alpha Kappa Delta.

Senior Honors Thesis

The senior thesis is intended to give the exceptional student an opportunity to pursue an intensive course of independent study under the direction of a department faculty member. The course culminates in a thesis completed during the senior year. Students writing theses may be eligible for graduation with honors in sociology. Graduation with honors in sociology requires an acceptable senior honors thesis.

The senior honors thesis is an intensive course of study conducted under the direction of a department advisor. The project is a major undertaking during the senior year in which a student addresses a research question in consultation with faculty. Thesis projects vary from highly theoretical to heavily empirical, but all theses are expected to provide a critical overview of the relevant literature in the discipline, address a well-defined problem raised by this literature, and engage in the rigorous analysis of the research question. Through the research process students demonstrate mastery of the discipline by exceeding the expectations of regular course work and directed study.

For the procedure and timeline for developing a thesis, see the Sociology Student Handbook.

Sociology Faculty

Parminder Bhachu, Ph.D.
Patricia Ewick, Ph.D.
Bruce London, Ph.D.
Deborah Merrill, Ph.D.
Debra Osnowitz, Ph.D.
Robert Ross, Ph.D.
Rosalie Torres Stone, Ph.D.
Shelly Tenenbaum, Ph.D.


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