Sociology

Jocelyn Viterna, Director of Undergraduate Studies

Hilary Holbrow, Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies

Sociology is the study of society, of the social frameworks within which we live our lives. It is a study of social life at every level, from two-person relationships to the rise and fall of nations and civilizations.  More than any other discipline it is a meeting place of the social sciences, combining its own ideas and methods with insights from history, anthropology, economics, political science, and psychology in an extended examination of the ways societies work—or fail to work.  Offering a comprehensive view of the social world, sociology is a cornerstone of a liberal arts education.

Our students receive instruction in classical and contemporary social theory along with cutting-edge qualitative and quantitative methods.  Course emphases range widely from the theoretical to the applied and incorporate an array of approaches, including field-based sociology, quantitative analysis, ethnography, historical and comparative studies, computer-based analysis, and theoretical explorations.  Students gain valuable skills in data collection, analysis and write-up.  Sociology nurtures question formation and critical thinking since its mixed-methods approach encourages a questioning of empirical data.  Students also learn how to apply sociological analysis to real-world issues – whether from third world development to corporate capitalism, or from crime in the streets to crime on Capitol Hill.

We prepare students to develop sociological questions and to design and conduct systematic and rigorous research which they pursue through course projects and senior theses.  Students have opportunities to engage in fieldwork throughout the curriculum.  Required courses emphasize research methodologies and data analysis, including the junior tutorial where students engage in an original research project.  There are multiple opportunities for students to gain valuable research experience including RA work on faculty projects.  This focus on research and fieldwork bolsters both a ‘hands on’ approach to learning while also exposing students the production of sociological knowledge.

The Department of Sociology at Harvard has a diverse and distinguished faculty. Our faculty includes the world’s foremost experts in race, ethnicity and immigration, inequality, economic sociology and organizations, urban poverty and the city, gender and family, crime and punishment, social movements and social change, politics, work, culture, social networks, comparative and historical sociology, and sociological theory.  Students may choose to take courses in a variety of areas or they may put together a focused program of study reflecting their own particular interests.

The concentration takes pride in its advising system, which allows for personal attention to students. It also affords substantial access to faculty and administrators and flexibility in meeting individual intellectual agendas.

Sociology concentrators go on to a variety of occupations, professional and academic, including law, medicine, education, business, consulting, finance, public health, journalism, and work in non-profit organizations and the public sector.  Sociology’s broad perspective is particularly valuable in our increasingly global inter-dependent world.

REQUIREMENTS
Basic Requirements: 12 courses (48 credits)

  1. Required courses:
    1. One course from the introductory series: (Sociology 10-Sociology 89). Normally taken during the freshman year.
    2. Sociology 128: Methods of Social Science Research, a basic introduction to methods (course offered fall term) Normally taken in the fall of the sophomore year.
    3. Sociology 97: Tutorial in Social Theory, a basic introduction to sociological theory (course offered both terms). Normally taken in the fall or spring of the sophomore year (see item 2a).
    4. Sociology 156: Quantitative Methods (course offered spring term) (Minimum grade requirement of C-.). Normally taken in the spring of the sophomore year.
    5. Sociology 98: Junior tutorial (course offered both terms) (see item 2b).
    6. Two courses in related social science fields: African and African American studies; anthropology; East Asian studies; economics; government; history; psychology; social studies; studies of women, gender, and sexuality. (The related field requirement can be met with Sociology courses.)
    7. Five courses in Sociology.
  2. Tutorials:
    1. Sophomore year: Sociology 97 (one term) required. Small seminars made up of eight to twelve students. An intensive introduction to classical and contemporary sociological theory.
    2. Junior year: Sociology 98 (one term) required. Small seminars made up of eight to ten students who work on original research projects under the direction of a faculty member. The purpose of this tutorial is to give students experience with independent inquiry and in many cases to develop a senior thesis topic.
  3. Thesis: Optional.
  4. General Examination: None.
  5. Other information:
    1. Pass/Fail: Up to two of the required twelve courses may be taken Pass/Fail (but not one of the five specifically required courses: Introductory Series, Sociology 97, 98, 128, or 156). Joint concentrators may take up to one of the course electives in Sociology Pass/Fail.
    2. Course Credit: Study abroad, Harvard Summer School, and courses offered by other Harvard faculties may count toward concentration credit. Freshman Seminars taught by department faculty may also count. Contact the Undergraduate Program and Advising Administrator with questions about the approval process.

Requirements for Honors Eligibility: 12 courses (48 credits)

  1. Required courses:
    1. a-f. Same as Basic Requirements.
    2. Three courses in Sociology.
    3. Sociology 99. Senior tutorial (see item 2c).
  2. Tutorials:
    1. Sophomore year: Same as Basic Requirements.
    2. Junior year: Same as Basic Requirements.
    3. Senior year: Sociology 99 (two terms). Senior thesis workshop; close supervision of thesis. Graded SAT/UNS.
  3. Thesis: Honors candidates must write a thesis and submit it to the Undergraduate Office in the spring of senior year. Students are urged to choose thesis topics and select an adviser by the end of junior year. Course credit for the thesis work is obtained through enrolling in Sociology 99 in the fall and spring of senior year.
  4. General Examination: None.
  5. Other information: Same as Basic Requirements.

JOINT CONCENTRATIONS

Joint concentrations are permitted pending approval from the Committee on Undergraduate Degrees.  However, the aims of such concentrations can often be met as well or better through course work, the honors thesis topic, or by pursuing a secondary field.  Sociology can serve as either the primary or allied field.

  1. Required courses when Sociology is the primary field: 9 courses
    1. One Sociology course from the introductory series: (Sociology 10-89)
    2. Sociology 97: Tutorial in Social Theory (course offered both fall and spring term)
    3. Sociology 98: Junior Tutorial (course offered both fall and spring term)
    4. Sociology 128: Models of Social Science Research (course offered fall term)
    5. Sociology 156: Quantitative Methods (course offered spring term) (Minimum grade requirement of C-.)
    6. Two courses in Sociology
    7. Sociology 99: Senior Thesis (two terms)
  2. Required courses when Sociology is the allied field: 6 courses:
    1. One Sociology course from the introductory series (Sociology 10-89)
    2. Sociology 97: Tutorial in Social Theory (course offered both fall and spring term)
    3. Sociology 128: Models of Social Science Research (course offered fall term)
    4. Sociology 156: Quantitative Methods (course offered spring term) (Minimum grade requirement of C-.)
    5. Two courses in Sociology

Note: A joint concentration is always an honors concentration. Anyone wishing to pursue a Sociology joint concentration must fill out a Joint Concentration Application and meet with the department’s Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies. For more information, visit http://sociology.fas.harvard.edu/pages/joint-concentration-sociology.

ADVISING

The Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies, Hilary Holdbrow (hholbrow@fas.harvard.edu), is responsible for providing advising to Sociology concentrators. If you are interested in concentrating in Sociology please contact the ADUS. The ADUS is assisted in advising by faculty members of the Committee on Undergraduate Degrees, including the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Questions about program requirements and related administrative matters may be directed to Laura Thomas (lthomas@wjh.harvard.edu), the Undergraduate Program and Advising Administrator. Concentration Advisers, who are graduate students in the Sociology department, are available to students in the Houses.

Students writing a thesis select a thesis adviser by the end of the junior year. Students may choose from among current Sociology faculty, department affiliates, and eligible graduate students. Jocelyn Viterna, the Director of Undergraduate Studies, is available to meet with juniors thinking of writing a senior thesis (jviterna@wjh.harvard.edu).

For up-to-date information on advising in Sociology and a current list of concentration advisers, please visit http://sociology.fas.harvard.edu/pages/advising. You may also visit the Advising Programs Office website.

RESOURCES

At regular department colloquia faculty or visiting scholars present current research. Notices of colloquia are posted in the department; students are invited to attend.

HOW TO FIND OUT MORE

Further information may be obtained from the Undergraduate Advising and Program Administrator in William James Hall 650, (Laura Thomas, lthomas@wjh.harvard.edu, 617-495-3713). Additional information is also available on department's website.

ENROLLMENT STATISTICS
Number of Concentrators as of December

Concentrators 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Sociology 144 155 186 164 141 141 143 135 116 140
Sociology + another field 4 3 3 5 7 11 9 5 8 0
Another field + Sociology 2 3 6 5 7 2 3 3 4 3