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 study of social inequality is central to the sociology major. The sociological lens acknowledges that race, gender, sexuality, and social class - as well as social dimensions such as time period and geographic location - shape our destinies as much as our own personal efforts. As a sociology major, you will study broad social processes - global dynamics, stratification, immigration, social movements, and more - and explore diverse institutions, from the law and medicine to family and religion. Through the study of sociology, students will acquire the conceptual and analytical tools to enhance both their understanding of their own lives and worlds 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.
The sociology major consists of eleven courses within the department, which must include the following:
Students are encouraged to begin with Introduction to Sociology. Majors should plan to complete Classical Sociological Theory and The Social Research Process prior to the senior year. Introduction to Sociology (SOC 010) is a prerequisite for Classical Sociological Theory (SOC 201), and Classical Sociological Theory is a prerequisite for Class, Status and Power (SOC 208). Students should take their capstone seminar their senior year.
Students may substitute PSCI 107 - Research Methods or GEOG 141 - Research Design and Methods in Geography or Both PSYC 105 Statistics and PSYC 109 Qualitative Methods in Psychology for SOC 202 - Social Research Process
All majors must also complete six additional sociology credits. 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. SPS courses are not counted for sociology credit. To receive credit toward the sociology major, students must earn a course grade of C- or better. If students take courses with a Pass/Fail option, then a maximum of two courses that receive a Pass grade will count towards the major.
The Sociology Department requires students to miss no more than one-third of the semester to successfully complete the course. This is in addition to an individual faculty members’ attendance expectations.
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 ), Classical Sociological Theory (SOC 201 ), and The Social Research Process (SOC 202 ). 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 Honors also fulfills the capstone requirement.
Department Honors and Awards
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 activism ideals of Jane Addams, a founder of community-based social work and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and 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.
Parminder Bhachu, Ph.D.
Jack Delehanty, Ph.D.
Joseph A. Guzman, Ph.D.
Deborah Merrill, Ph.D.
Rosalie Torres Stone, Ph.D.
Shelly Tenenbaum, Ph.D.
Elicia M. Cousins, Ph.D.
Matthew A. Gregory
Bruce London, Ph.D.
Robert J.S. Ross, Ph.D.
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