Bryn Mawr College Sociology Spring 2021 Information Session

View the PowerPoint Presentation by Prof. David Karen (with voice)

To listen to the presentation, click Slide Show/Play from Start

What is Sociology?

Sociology is a social science, a discipline that takes societies and social institutions as the object of scientific inquiry and reasoning. The study of sociology provides a general understanding of the organization and functioning of societies, their major institutions, groups and values, and the interrelations of these with personality and culture. Sociologists are particularly concerned with social issues and social problems, and the sources of stress and change in contemporary and historical societies.

The Department of Sociology at Bryn Mawr College offers students particular opportunities to study societies of the Global North and South, the relation of individuals and groups to society and culture, and the contribution of sociological perspectives to the formation of public opinion and public policy. Courses in U.S. society, immigration, race and ethnic relations, development, social stratification and inequality, gender, sociology of education, medical sociology, and African American, Asian American and Latin American communities provide critical perspectives from which to understand and analyze major social issues. Courses in the sociology of religion, economic sociology and the family focus on major social institutions. Other offerings in the department address the relation of individuals to their social milieu, such as those courses that examine deviance, the individual and social structure, the sociology of popular music and culture. Students, in the process of their intellectual development, not only study the great classical and contemporary social theorists; they also learn sociological research skills using both quantitative and qualitative methods.

What Can You Do with a Sociology Degree?

Because sociology has relevance to every sphere of human social life, undergraduate training in sociology provides an excellent background and preparation for a variety of careers. Examples of professions in which former majors are employed include: university professors at such institutions as the University of California at Berkeley, Columbia University, and Harvard Medical School, physicians in diverse specialties, journalists in electronic and print media, directors of local, national and international non-governmental organizations, business executives and business entrepreneurs, financial analysts in investment firms and corporations, lawyers in public interest, corporate, and government organizations, social workers in clinical and case work practices, administrators in colleges and universities, school teachers in public and private institutions, psychotherapists, and psychiatrists, as well as several more exotic careers such as certified hypnotherapist and certified massage therapist.

The Sociology Major at Bryn Mawr

Should you have any questions or want to sign up as a major in Sociology, please contact Professor Nate Wright at

Required Course Work for Sociology Majors

  • SOCL 102 Society, Culture and the Individual 
  • SOCL 265 Research Design and Statistical Analysis
  • SOCL 302 Social Theory
  • SOCL 303 Junior Writing Intensive Seminar
  • SOCL 398 Senior Seminar
  • Optional thesis 

Requirements for the major are SOCL 102, 265, 302, 303 (Junior Seminar), which fulfills the College writing intensive requirement, 398 (Senior Seminar), five additional courses in sociology (one of which may be at the 100 level and at least one of which must be at the 300 level). In addition, the student must take two additional courses in sociology or an allied subject; the allied courses are to be chosen in consultation with the faculty adviser. The department strongly recommends that majors take a history course focused on late 19th and 20th century American history. Students with an interest in quantitative sociology are encouraged to elect as allied work further training in mathematics, statistics and computer science. Those with an interest in historical or theoretical sociology are encouraged to elect complementary courses in history, philosophy, and anthropology. In general, these allied courses should be chosen from the social sciences. 

Senior Experience

The Senior Seminar is required of all senior sociology majors regardless of whether or not they wish to do a thesis. Depending on the number of students, in some years the Senior Seminar will have two sections. The content of the two sections may differ, but the structure of the seminars will be the same. Students will focus on their writing in a series of assignments, emphasizing, as the new college-wide writing requirement suggests, the process and elements of good writing. 

Senior Thesis: Procedures and Substance

Juniors will have the option of doing a one-semester thesis in the fall of senior year, a one-semester thesis in the spring of senior year, or a two-semester thesis (one grade for the senior year). To become eligible to write a senior thesis, a student must have a minimum 3.3 GPA in sociology (this will also be the minimum GPA for a student to do an independent study in sociology). Students will need to approach a faculty member as early as possible about the possibility of advising their thesis and will need to indicate in their thesis proposal their "preferred adviser." The department will attempt to follow these preferences but will take responsibility for assigning an adviser.

The Department of Sociology offers concentrations in gender and society and African American studies. In pursuing these concentrations, majors should inquire about the possibility of coursework at Haverford and Swarthmore Colleges and the University of Pennsylvania. 

Recommended Sequence of Courses for Majors

We strongly recommend that the two 100-level courses be completed by the end of the sophomore year. If this is not possible, they must be completed by the end of the junior year. SOCL 265, 302 and 303 must be completed by the end of the junior year. Any exception to this sequence of courses must be appealed by petition to the department. SOCL 398 must be taken in the senior year. This senior seminar cannot be taken earlier than the senior year.

If the requirements are completed on schedule, students may take a semester abroad in the junior year after discussion with their adviser. If the junior semester abroad will affect the above sequencing of the requirements, then the student must petition the department for permission to postpone any required courses until the senior year.

Department Honors

Students with a grade point average of 3.3 or above in the major who write a senior thesis that is judged outstanding by the department can qualify for honors. 

Independent Study

  1. In the semester before the student plans to write the thesis, the candidate for honors needs to submit a thesis proposal to the Sociology Department. 
  2. If the student writes an honors thesis, the final paper must be submitted to two professors (the adviser and one other professor) in the department for evaluation.
  3. The student receives honors, if the paper is approved by the two professors. In those cases, where the paper is considered to be below honors quality, the student will receive a grade and credit for the course but not honors. 

The Sociology Minor at Bryn Mawr

Minor Requirements

  • SOCL 102 Society, Culture and the Individual
  • SOCL 265 Research Design and Statistical Analysis
  • SOCL 302 Social Theory
  • Three additional courses in sociology required

Double Majoring or Minoring in Sociology

Students may choose to combine their training in sociology with their work in another discipline by either minoring in sociology or double majoring. Among the most popular double majors are sociology and economics, sociology and political science, sociology and biology (pre-med), and sociology and mathematics. Recent examples of students combining a minor in sociology with a major in another discipline include sociology and history, sociology and French, sociology and Spanish, sociology and chemistry, and sociology and anthropology.

Opportunities in Sociology

Study Abroad

Students who plan to take a junior semester abroad must get the approval of the department adviser before completing her course registration for the program. The student should submit a description of the program, a catalogue or published description of the courses she plans to take for sociology credit, and a statement of how the program fits into the major.

Field Work and Internship Experiences

The Sociology Department encourages students to pursue the varied opportunities to combine classroom learning with practical experiences through fieldwork and internships in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs. Opportunities for volunteer work in social service and other agencies are provided through the college's Civic Engagement Office. Students interested in course related internships should consult that professor for more information.

Departmental Grants for Summer Internships

Over the past decade, the sociology department has received an annual gift from the Pollak Estate to fund student internships. The Pollak gift supports unpaid student internships at non-profit organizations for 8-10 weeks each summer. The money was willed to the sociology department by Otto and Gertrude Pollak, two Jewish lawyers from Vienna, Austria, who became political refugees from Nazi occupied Austria, and emigrated to the United States. After they settled in the Philadelphia area, they became affiliated with Bryn Mawr College, which had a significant impact in helping them to establish their professional careers. 

Interdepartmental Programs and Opportunities for Work at Other Institutions

The department participates in the interdisciplinary programs in Hispanic and Hispanic-American Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Africana Studies and in the Growth and Structure of Cities Program. Cross-registration in Sociology and allied social science departments at Haverford, Swarthmore and the University of Pennsylvania provides many opportunities to study specialized areas such as medical sociology, women's studies, demography, African American studies, statistics, and computer science. Sociology majors also frequently spend a junior semester abroad, where they combine the study of language, literature and culture with courses in sociology and related social sciences. Students interested in these programs should consult first with their departmental undergraduate adviser as soon as you think you may want to spend a semester abroad so that you can organize your course plans. 

You are strongly advised to also consult the Sociology Department bulletin board for additional information related to all of the above.

The Pollak Summer Internship

Over the past decade, the department has awarded several dozen grants to sociology majors for summer internships. These grants of $3600-$4000 are awarded to students who submitted proposals for summer internships that were approved by the sociology department faculty. Both sophomore and junior sociology majors are eligible for these grants. In order to apply for a Pollak you must submit a proposal stating the objectives of your project and the non-profit organization where you plan to do the internship. You will need a letter from the organization confirming its interests in employing and directing you as a summer intern. You must also submit one letter of recommendation from a Bryn Mawr professor or dean who can vouch for your qualifications to successfully carry out your proposed internship project.

You should try to identify several organizations where you would like to do an internship and make preliminary inquiries about the possibility of working for them during the summer. Students who receive Pollak grants and undertake summer internships are required to write a brief essay for the department newsletter describing their work experiences and give a short oral presentation describing those experiences to the sociology department students and faculty at the fall information session.


Contact Us

Department of Sociology

Dalton Hall
Bryn Mawr College
101 N. Merion Avenue
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010-2899
Phone: 610-526-5030 or 610-526-5331