Sociology Department Courses and Requirements

Student Learning Goals for Sociology Majors

  • Introduction to the sociological perspective
  • Experience with field research (carry out independent observation and in-depth interview at own research site)
  • Experience with survey research (analyze an existing large-scale survey, implement a survey questionnaire, carry out basic statistical analysis of survey data )
  • Read and analyze classical roots of sociological thought
  • Read and analyze contemporary sociological theories
  • In-depth exposure to specific sociological phenomena through electives

Learning Goals for Senior Exercise (Sociology 190)

The Sociology Major culminates in a senior exercise, a senior seminar in which students read and evaluate current, cutting-edge sociological monographs, dissecting their theoretical perspectives as well as their methodological approaches. At the end of the semester each student presents orally to the entire department a critical review of a sociological topic, along with a 25-page paper. This paper may form the literature review for an optional thesis that students can complete in the spring semester

To prepare students for this senior exercise, they take two courses in research methods - one qualitative and one quantitative - and two courses in social theory - one in classical theory and one in contemporary theory, and four sociology electives, in addition to the introductory sociology course. Many sociology majors carry out original research projects during the summers or during the academic year in addition to their coursework.

Learning Goals for Sociology 51: Introduction to Sociology

Students in this course acquire a survey introduction to the discipline through analyzing original texts. A focus is placed on introducing students to theory, methods, and conducting basic empirical research.

  • Develop knowledge for the history of the discipline of sociology and its relations to other social science disciplines
  • Identify key theories and figures that influence the discipline over the past 150 years
  • Explain the relationship between theory and empirical research
  • Distinguish between the advantages and disadvantages between qualitative and quantitative methods in the discipline
  • Recognize systematic research using samples, populations, various methods, and the application of sociological theory
  • Conduct basic research using data from various online surveys
  • Perform original ethnographic fieldwork in the local community
  • Critique original sociological studies and distinguish between different methodologies and theoretical perspectives
  • Connect contemporary research to the history of sociological thoughts (such as conflict, functionalist, and symbolic interactionist theories)

Learning Goal for Sociology 102: Qualitative Research Methods

Students experience the full range of designing, conducting, and sharing qualitative research. A particular focus is placed on the methods employed in the collection, analysis, and presentation of ethnographic observations, in-depth interviews, and focus groups. The goals include:

  • Designing a qualitative research project.
  • Initiating contact and gain access into a research site.
  • Discussing research ethics, reciprocity, positionality.
  • Reading and discussing competing paradigms in qualitative research.
  • Collaborating with classmates as a research board to support and evaluate each others' projects.
  • Conducting field observations and writing field notes.
  • Designing interview and focus group questions.
  • Scheduling and conducting interviews and focus group discussions.
  • Transcribing interviews and focus group discussions.
  • Coding and searching for themes in field notes and interviews.
  • Relating sociological scholarship to research project.
  • Writing a qualitative research paper.
  • Carrying-out a formal qualitative research presentation

Learning Goals for Sociology 104 -- Survey Research Methods

Students see a full range of survey research, from the beginning of designing a research project to writing the results of a data analysis, including the following goals:

  • Develop measurable variables based upon social concepts and link those variables into testable hypotheses
  • Design survey questionnaire items that can measure the variables they want to study
  • Identify alternative sampling methodologies
  • Carry out survey questionnaire interviews in-person
  • Access data from an existing large-scale, nationally representative social survey
  • Perform descriptive statistical tests, such as mean, median, mode
  • Produce bivariate tables with chi-square tests of significance; perform two-way correlations
  • Perform multiple linear regression analyses
  • Write a summary of quantitative results

Learning Goals for Classical Sociological Theory (Sociology 154) and Contemporary Sociological Theory (Sociology 157)

In both classical and contemporary sociological theory, students learn the history and development of the field of sociology through the exploration of the ideas of major theorists.

  • Develops students' capacity to formulate critical assessment of theory.
  • Students analyze the basic assumptions and elemental ideas of various thinkers.
  • Students analyze and critique central themes of social thought, together with their main representatives and schools.
  • Students learn to compare and contrast significant ideas of different theorists.
  • Students explore the impact of social theory in bringing about change for social structures.
  • Students learn to apply social theory in understanding contemporary society.
  • Students should develop ability to understand the assumptions both they and scholars make about the social world, and the implications of these assumptions.