Sociology is the systematic study of social life. Through empirical inquiry, sociologists seek to understand the process by which societies, communities, institutions, and organizations are created, maintained, undermined, and transformed, and the ways in which social life shapes individuals.
The Department of Sociology is composed of scholars who are internationally recognized contributors to the discipline. It is known for its diversity of perspective and particularly for its support for emerging areas of study and innovative approaches to theory, method, and empirical inquiry. The department has distinctive strength in quantitative methods of research and analysis. The department is also affiliated with the Institute for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Research, which conducts global policy related research in the social sciences.
The requirements for the sociology major are designed to provide students with a thorough grounding in the theory and methodology of the discipline and their rigorous application to empirical inquiry. In addition to providing the core of a liberal arts education, the sociology major can also serve as preparation for graduate study for a career as a professional sociologist. Finally, the major may be used as preparation for a career in such fields as law, management, urban and environmental planning, corrections, journalism, teaching, social work, and other service professions.
Students with a bachelor’s degree in sociology who are interested in pursuing a California Teaching Credential should contact the Credential Advisor in the Graduate School of Education as soon as possible.
Honors Program in Sociology
As part of our participation in the College of Letters and Science Honors Program, the department offers an introductory-level sociology honors class (Sociology 1H), which is taught by the course professor, thus providing students with a unique opportunity for small group interaction with the instructor. In addition, eligible undergraduates may, with consent of the instructor, elect to fulfill an honors contract for any course. Eligible upper-division honors students may also participate in graduate courses numbered 200-299 by petition.
In addition to the general honors program, the Department of Sociology offers a three-quarter honors research practicum (196H-HR-HT). Students enrolled in this seminar complete an original research project on a topic of their choice. To be eligible for the honors practicum in sociology, students must have completed Sociology 1 and a statistics course, must have a minimum 3.5 cumulative grade-point average with a 3.5 grade-point average in upper-division sociology courses. In addition, it is strongly recommended that students interested in the honors research practicum acquire competency in the methodological area related to their specific research topic.
All qualified students are invited to apply at the Department of Sociology office before the end of the spring quarter prior to the year of requested admission to the practicum series. All students must submit a writing sample from a social science course, excluding take-home examinations. All final decisions for admission to the honors program will be made by the program coordinator and will be based on the writing sample, standing in the major, and cumulative grade-point average.
Graduation with Distinction
To be eligible to graduate with Distinction in the Major, honors students must complete, with a grade of B or better, a minimum of two graduate seminars in sociology and the three quarter honors research practicum which includes the presentation of an honors thesis. Students must also maintain a 3.5 cumulative grade-point average and a 3.5 grade-point average in upper-division sociology courses.
Prospective majors are expected to consult the department undergraduate academic advisor about all aspects of planning a program in sociology. Before admission to the sociology major, students must complete all sociology preparation for the major courses as specified below. Preparation for the major courses may not be taken on a passed/not passed basis. Students may declare the pre-sociology major after completion of at least one course in area(s) A and/or B of the pre-major with at least a 2.3 GPA. Students must complete pre-major courses and achieve the minimum GPA requirements prior to completion of 144 total units. Courses in Area A and B must be completed with a grade of "C-" or higher. Students who declare the pre-major are responsible for satisfying degree requirements in effect at the time they declare the major. Pre-major status does not, however, guarantee admission to full major status. When pre-major requirements are satisfied, students should complete a change of major petition, available in the sociology undergraduate advising office, to declare full major status.
Students considering graduate training for careers as professional sociologists are advised to take Sociology 185A to fulfill the upper-division theory requirement. This course offers integrated perspective on the traditions of sociological theory as a whole rather than concentrating on a single subfield, and it is appropriate for graduate school preparation. Students preparing for graduate study are encouraged to complete one upper-division methods course in addition to the course they select to fulfill the methods requirement. Additionally, students should use the upper-division elective units (8) to increase their exposure to other areas in sociology. They should also seek individualized reading or research projects with faculty members. Students who anticipate applying for graduate school should discuss their programs at an early stage with the undergraduate advisor and a faculty member.
Students considering a career in public and social affairs should plan their programs with graduate study in mind, as such careers typically require study at the master’s level in urban planning, social work, public affairs, business, law, or sociology. A program in public and social affairs should involve a background in methods and analysis, a foundation in computer skills, a basic knowledge of societal organization and change, a special focus on urban programs, and an in-depth knowledge of one or more additional areas of particular interest. Field experience through an internship is strongly recommended.
Students interested in acquiring technical skills in data management for careers in government, research, or business firms are advised to learn not only the technical aspects of research, but the sociological dimension as well: the institutional settings that frame policy-related problems, ways to formulate and conduct research programs, and intelligent interpretation of the results of analysis. Students should consult with an advisor to plan an appropriate program.