Program Requirements and Opportunities
Published annually, the Course Catalog sets out the requirements of the academic programs--the majors, minors, and concentrations. Each Bryn Mawr student must declare a major before the end of the sophomore year. Students may also declare a minor or a concentration, but neither is required for the A.B. degree. Students must comply with the requirements published in the Course Catalog at the time when they declare the major, minor and/or concentration.
The Course Catalog also sets out the College requirements. Students must comply with the College requirements published at the time they enter Bryn Mawr College.
Students may complete a major or minor in Sociology.
The major in Sociology aims to provide understanding of the organization and functioning of modern society by analyzing its major institutions, social groups, and values, and their connections to culture and power. To facilitate these analytical objectives, the department offers rigorous preparation in social theory and problem-focused training in quantitative as well as qualitative methodologies.
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.
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.
During senior year, seniors will have the option of doing a one-semester thesis in the fall, a one-semester thesis in the spring, or a two-semester thesis (one grade for the 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). Junior sociology majors 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.
Rising seniors who wish to write a senior thesis will need to submit by June 30 to the Chair of sociology a 1-2 page thesis proposal that includes the following information:
1. Proposed term of thesis-writing: fall semester; spring semester; both semesters
2. Timeline: brief indication of when the data will be collected, when/how it will be analyzed, when the write-up will take place, etc.
3. Preferred adviser
4. Thesis proposal (should include the research question, its sociological significance, the proposed method, plan of analysis, and anticipated value)
a. The thesis proposal should also state clearly whether the research will require IRB approval, if approval has already been secured, or when it will be secured
b. Please indicate if you have any previous preparation/work in the thesis topic area.
The chair will distribute the proposals to department members, collect their comments, and inform the student of a yes/no decision by July 15. Please note that students who are not selected to do a senior thesis may still pursue independent work with a faculty member (if their GPA in the major is 3.3 or above). If you are unsure of whether your topic is really "THESIS," you should discuss this with a faculty member. The following broad categories of work have been considered in the past to be theses: students conduct an analysis of empirical data (this can be qualitative or quantitative; collected by the student or by someone else; contemporary or historical; etc.) or students undertake to research a question using already published evidence (so the thesis could be a very focused, extensive literature review). Students would be welcome to propose developing further a research paper that they wrote in a course. This kind of proposal needs to be very specific as to what the new/additional goals are.
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.
Requirements for the minor are SOCL 102, 265, 302, and three additional courses within the department. Students may choose electives from courses offered at Haverford College. Bryn Mawr majors should consult their department about major credit for courses taken at other institutions.
Honors in Sociology are available to those students who have a grade point average in the major of 3.5 or higher and who write a senior thesis that is judged outstanding by the department. The thesis would be written under the direction of a Sociology faculty member.
Concentrations Within the Sociology Major
Gender and Society
Three courses are required for this concentration—at least two of these courses must be in sociology. The remaining course can be in sociology or an allied social science field. Students who pursue this concentration are required to take at least one of the core courses in this area offered by the department: The Study of Gender in Society (SOCL 201) or Women in Contemporary Society: The Southern Hemisphere (SOCL 225). The department encourages students in this concentration to take courses that focus on the study of gender in both the Global North and the Global South. In addition to taking courses in this field at Bryn Mawr, students may also take courses towards this concentration in their study abroad programs or at Haverford, Swarthmore, and the University of Pennsylvania. Any course taken outside of the Bryn Mawr Department of Sociology must be approved by the department for concentration credit.
African American Studies
Three courses are required for this concentration—at least two of these courses must be in sociology. The remaining course can be in either sociology or an allied field. Students who pursue this concentration are required to take the core course offered by the Bryn Mawr Department of Sociology: Black America In Sociological Perspective (SOCL 229). Students are encouraged to take courses on Black America listed under the Bryn Mawr and Haverford Africana Studies Programs. Courses taken outside the Bryn Mawr Department of Sociology must be approved by the department for concentration credit. Majors interested in this concentration should consult Robert Washington for further information.