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Department/Program Description

The program is designed to help students develop new frameworks for analyzing a broad array of social relations—from everyday life interactions to large-scale historical and structural transformations—and to cultivate a critical appreciation for the academic discipline of sociology.

Admission to the Major

Students who wish to declare the major must have successfully completed SOC151 and have completed or be currently enrolled in one additional sociology department course including:

  • SOC202 or SOC212, or
  • a course approved by petition to the department
Major Requirements

Majors must complete a total of 10 courses in fulfillment of the major requirements; this includes the capstone requirement.

  • Three sociology department topical courses (SOC220-SOC412)
  • Three additional topical courses from any combination of:
    • SOC220-SOC325
    • SOC401 or SOC402 (sociology department individual tutorials, including education in the field)
    • SOC411 or SOC412 (sociology department group tutorials
    • Advisor-approved courses taken outside the Wesleyan Department of Sociology, including study-abroad credit, sociology-relevant courses at Wesleyan, and sociology courses taken at other institutions.
  • Senior capstone course (SOC399 or SOC405/6)

All sociology majors must enter their senior year having taken a minimum of three courses within the Wesleyan Department of Sociology. This includes at least one of the two required courses (SOC202 or SOC212).

Non-Department Major Credit
Three of the six topical courses needed to complete the major can be completed outside the Sociology Department. These courses include study abroad courses, transfer credit, and courses taken with other departments at Wesleyan. The courses must be sociology-related and require pre-approval from your major advisor. Majors can request a maximum of three courses (or three credits) from outside the department. 

Study Abroad

Study abroad is fully compatible with completing the major, but students who plan to go abroad for a   semester are expected to discuss with their major advisors how such studies will fit into their overall academic program before finalizing their plans. Pre-approved study abroad courses can be transferred to the major as non-departmental major credit (up to 3 credits; see details in Major Requirements and Transfer Credit).

Capstone Experience

Capstone Course Requirement. Advanced majors are required to craft a substantial capstone research project. There are two routes toward completion of this project:

  • Advanced Research Seminar. Students enroll in an Advanced Research Seminar during the sixth, seventh, or eighth semester. Enrollment in these special-topic seminars, numbered SOC399, is limited to 15 student majors per course. These seminars feature in-depth engagement with advanced course materials and culminate in a significant research paper.
  • Honors Thesis. Students who qualify for the honors program write an honors thesis in the Thesis Seminar (SOC405-SOC406) during the seventh and eighth semesters. See section entitled "Qualifying for Honors" for full information on the honors program.

The Department of Sociology offers a two-semester Honors Thesis Seminar (SOC 405-406) supervised by a member of the sociology department faculty who serves as thesis advisor for students enrolled in the seminar. Students selected for participation in the seminar work individually with the seminar advisor and meet weekly with other thesis writers in a process directed toward the formulation and production of an original piece of imaginative and sophisticated scholarship. Consideration focuses on the potential for successful completion of a project that is both creative and well-formulated.

The Sociology Department’s yearlong Thesis Seminar proceeds in three stages:

Stage 1. Students will submit a writing sample that will be used to evaluate a candidate’s potential for successful completion of an Honors project. Please note that this writing sample is not a prospective Thesis proposal. Rather it is a completed work, selected by the student and chosen to reflect the student’s best work, i.e., the work of which the student is most proud. The central considerations for evaluation of the sample are formal, not substantive and, as a result, the student writing can be drawn from any creative context, including but not limited to, coursework completed in Sociology of elsewhere. There is no prescribed number of pages required for the submission.

Students who wish to be considered for the enrollment in the Honors Thesis Seminar will submit a PDF file of the writing sample by the end of the first week of April.

Writing Samples should be emailed to Professor Jonathan Cutler, Please include THESIS SEMINAR WRITING SAMPLE—all caps—in the subject line of the email.

Stage 2. In most instances, the petition process includes an interview, either on-campus or virtual, with the professor leading the seminar in order to explore tentative ideas for thesis topics and discuss the nature of the commitment required for completion of an independent Honors Thesis. Candidates will be contacted directly in order to schedule an interview.

Stage 3. Enrollment in the two-semester Thesis Seminar is managed as a POI course. Successful candidates will be formally enrolled in the seminar (and, thus, in the university-managed Honors College administrative system) during add/drop at the start of senior year.

Department faculty may also elect to work with a senior major toward completion of an honors thesis outside of the context of the Thesis Seminar. Independent thesis tutorials are established at the discretion of members of the sociology department faculty.

Double-filing theses
Double-majors who are completing honors theses/projects for another department on campus can request to have their thesis considered for honors in Sociology. In this case, the student must fulfill the senior capstone requirement by completing an Advanced Research Seminar (ARS) and must complete a thesis tutorial with a member of the Sociology Department for at least one semester their senior year. 

Transfer Credit

The Sociology Department will consider requests to transfer credit for graded sociology courses taken at other U.S. academic institutions. For currently enrolled Wesleyan students, these requests must be made during the first two weeks of the course the student is requesting a transfer credit. In the event that a course is no longer available or some other circumstance bars a student from enrolling in the pre-approved course, students must contact their major advisor to get permission to have credit for a different course transferred instead.  

Along with the transfer credit form (available at, a course syllabus must be provided showing that the proposed course is equivalent to Wesleyan courses. 

Students who began their studies at other U.S. academic institutions can have their credits transferred upon admission to Wesleyan, and these credits can apply to the major. Already enrolled students who began their studies at Wesleyan can only request to have topical or upper division transfer credit applied to the major, which can count toward the maximum of three sociology-related credits taken outside the Department to fulfill the major requirements.

Additional Information
  • Major advising. Each major is assigned a faculty advisor with whom the student works out a program of study
  • Education-in-the-field credit. Students, whether majors or non-majors, seeking education-in-the-field credit must provide the department, in advance, with an acceptable prospectus of their work and assurance of professional guidance during the field experience. Students must submit research papers based on this experience. These papers should refer substantially to sociological literature pertinent to their field experience.

In planning their programs, students should examine the full list of WesMaps course offerings. Other information about the sociology major is available in the department office, Public Affairs Center 122.