About the Major

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).

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.

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, jcutler@wesleyan.edu. 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.

Additional Information
  • Major advising. Each major is assigned a faculty advisor with whom the student works out a program of study.
  • Transfer students. Major declaration and completion requirements are subject to the approval of the sociology department faculty. Transfer students are encouraged to meet with the department chair, and then petition to use prior coursework credits toward fulfillment of the Wesleyan Department of Sociology declaration and completion requirements.
  • Double majors. Please consult with the department chair or a department advisor.
  • Education-in-the-field credit. Students, whether majors or nonmajors, 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.