A.B. in Sociology, Organizational Studies Track (S/OS)

Director: Mark Suchman

The Sociology concentration’s Organizational Studies A.B. degree track (“S/OS”) provides a solid foundation in sociological theory and methods, coupled with a focused expertise in sociological research on work, management, leadership and entrepreneurship, spanning the businesses, non-profit, and government sectors.   Students who successfully complete the S/OS A.B. degree requirements will graduate with a transcript notation reading "Sociology (Organizational Studies).”

Through this track, students develop crucial analytical and methodological skills for careers in:

  • Public, private, and non-profit management and consulting
  • Law, health, finance, public relations, information technology and other professions
  • Commercial and social entrepreneurship
  • International, national, and local activism and policy-making
  • Organizational, economic, and market research

The Organizational Studies track also provides outstanding preparation for postgraduate study in a wide range of fields, including business and management, public policy, law, health sciences, and sociology.

Concentration Requirements

The S/OS A.B. track consists of a total of 10 courses, including a capstone or thesis project. The curriculum has four components:

  • Sociology Core (5 courses):  To ensure a firm grasp of core sociological concepts and approaches, students in the S/OS track take the same foundation of social theory and research methods courses as general Sociology concentrators:
    • SOC 0010 -- Social Forces: An Introduction to Sociology​
      • Introduces sociological perspectives on central aspects of social life, including identity, action, culture, power, and inequality
    • SOC 1010 -- Classical Sociological Theory
      • Explores leading theoretical frameworks for understanding social structure and social change
    • SOC 1020 -- Methods of Social Research
      • Introduces social-science methods for quantitative and qualitative empirical research
    • SOC 1100 -- Introductory Statistics for Social Research
      • Introduces statistical and computational techniques for quantitative data analysis in the social-sciences
      • Note: Can be substituted with APMA 0650 or ECON 1620 or CLPS 0900.
    • SOC 1950 -- Senior Seminar
      • Allows students to refine their interests and hone their research skills by completing a senior thesis or capstone project
      • Note: Theses/projects in the S/OS track must address phenomena, conditions and processes related to the field of Organizational Studies.
  • Organizational Studies Foundation (2 courses):  To develop a command of Organizational Studies, students in the S/OS track take two additional foundation courses in micro-organizational behavior and macro-organizational theory.  Students may choose any two of the following three Organizational Studies Foundation courses:
    • SOC 0300 -- Organizations and Society
      • Introduces the field of Organizational Studies, examining how organizations shape individual lives and societal trends.
    • SOC 1311 -- Micro-Organizational Theory: Social Behavior in Organizations
      • Surveys classic and contemporary theory and research on individual and group behavior in workplaces and other organizational settings.
    • SOC 1315 -- Macro-Organizational Theory: Organizations in Social Context
      • Surveys classic and contemporary theory and research on intra-organizational processes and inter-organizational environments.
  • Advanced Organizational Studies (1 course): To cultivate specialized expertise, students in the S/OS track must take at least one course that addresses advanced topics in public, private, and non-profit management; in commercial, social, and institutional entrepreneurship; in leadership, innovation, and organizational change; in the sociology of work; in the sociology of markets; and/or in organizational research methods.  
  • Concentration Electives (2 courses):  Students in the S/OS track must take two additional courses that provide further exposure to sociological topics and/or introduce alternative perspectives on the study of organizations.  To meet this requirement, a course must be either:

Additional Information:

Lower-Level Coursework:  S/OS concentrators may apply no more than three 0100-level courses toward their concentration requirements.  SOC 0100 and SOC 0300 (if taken) count toward this lower-level course allowance.

Upper-Level Coursework:  At least 3 of the 5 courses counted toward the Organizational Studies Foundation, Advanced Organizational Studies, and Concentration Elective requirements (combined) must be at the 1000 level or above, and at least 1 must be a advanced seminar (1870-1873).

Interdisciplinary Coursework:  In meeting the Concentration Elective requirement, S/OS concentrators may petition to count up to 2 courses that are neither offered by the Sociology Department nor included on the list of interdisciplinary Organization-Relevant Electives. This will be allowed when (a) the proposed course makes sense given the interests of the student, (b) the proposed courses addresses topics of relevance to sociology and/or organizational studies, and (c) the Sociology Department offers no equivalent course.

Independent Study Coursework:  Students may apply no more than 1 Independent Study course toward the Advanced Organizational Studies or Concentration Elective requirements.  Independent Study courses may not be applied toward the Sociology Core or Organizational Studies Foundation requirements.

The Senior Seminar:  Sociology requires all concentrators, regardless of track, to complete a thesis or capstone project in their senior year. The purpose of the thesis or capstone project is to allow students to apply their sociological training to  a topic of their own interests. To fulfill this requirement, students enroll in SOC 1950 – Senior Seminar. This seminar allows each cohort of concentrators to discuss their diverse interests, and exposes participants to a wide range of applications of Sociological knowledge.  

A senior thesis must ask an original research question, answer it with appropriate evidence, and relate that work to relevant scholarly literature in sociology. The thesis is supervised by a faculty thesis advisor, and one additional faculty member who serves as a reader. By the end of the sixth semester, a student wishing to pursue a thesis must submit a brief prospectus to the Director of Undergraduate Studies. At the start of the seventh semester the student must submit to the Director of Undergraduate Studies a proposal (not more than four pages), approved and signed by the student’s thesis advisor

A capstone project is an independent, student-initiated project or experience developed during the Senior Seminar (SOC 1950) that connects in a meaningful way to the student’s learning in the concentration.  Whereas a senior thesis follows the form of a conventional research paper, a capstone project allows a wider array of research and creative outputs, including but not limited to video documentaries, photographic exhibitions, and applied or policy-related analyses for an off-campus organization. Projects are complemented by a report that situates the work within the context of sociological scholarship.  Completion of a capstone project requires only the approval of the Senior Seminar instructor.

Honors: To be considered for honors, students in the S/OS track must achieve a grade point average of at least 3.5 (A=4, B=3, C=2) on all courses counted toward concentration requirements (including interdisciplinary ORE courses, if any). No more than 1 of the courses counted toward concentration requirements may be taken with the "S/NC" option.  Honors also requires a senior thesis that demonstrates an understanding of empirical research, with a recommendation of Honors by the thesis advisor and reader.

Transfer Credit:  The S/OS track will honor the existing transfer credit policies of the cognizant Brown Department for all courses in the Brown course catalog.  For courses with no direct Brown equivalent, transfer-credit decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis by the Sociology Director of Undergraduate Studies, in consultation with the designated chair of the Sociology Department’s Work, Organizations and the Economy area faculty.

S/OS in relation to other concentrations:

S/OS versus general Sociology:  As a track within Sociology, S/OS shares the five core requirements for all concentrators in the discipline: (1) Introduction to Sociology; (2) Sociological Theory; (3) Methods of Social Research; (4) Introductory Statistics for Social Research; and (5) the capstone Senior Seminar.  Students concentrating in the S/OS track also have the same number of required courses, overall, as general Sociology concentrators.  However, unlike the general Sociology concentration, the S/OS track requires concentrators to fulfill three of their five remaining course requirements with courses focusing specifically on Organizational Studies: two additional foundation courses in Organizational Studies, and at least one Advanced Organizational Studies (AOS) course drawn from the Sociology Department’s “Work, Organizations and the Economy” pillar.  In addition, students in the S/OS track may count up to two interdisciplinary Organization-Relevant Elective (ORE) courses toward the Concentration Elective requirement, and are expected to focus their senior thesis or capstone project on an Organizational Studies topic.

S/OS versus Business, Entrepreneurship and Organizations (BEO): The S/OS track within Sociology requires much of the same Sociology coursework as the interdisciplinary Organizational Studies track in BEO.  The primary difference between the Sociology and BEO tracks lies in their relationship to disciplinary scholarship: The BEO track is explicitly interdisciplinary, fostering a broad generalist orientation, spanning sociology, economics and engineering; the S/OS track, in contrast, is firmly grounded in the discipline of sociology, fostering an in-depth mastery of sociological theory and methods, and encouraging students to link the study of organizations to other areas of sociological knowledge such as social inequality, globalization and development, population and family, environment and society, and urban life.  In keeping with this disciplinary focus, concentrators in the S/OS track are required to take the core sociological theory and methods courses required of all Sociology concentrators, and are not required to take BEO’s “cross-training” coursework in Economics and Engineering.

Double concentrations: All S/OS rules for double-concentrators (maximum number of overlapping courses, etc.) will mirror the corresponding rules for general Sociology concentrators.  Students may not double-concentrate in both general Sociology and S/OS, nor in both S/OS and the BEO Organizational Studies track.

Advanced Organizational Studies (AOS):

(Any one course from the list below)

SOC 1060 -- Leadership in Organizations

SOC 1070 -- Money Sociology

SOC 1115 -- The Enlightened Entrepreneur

SOC 1117 -- Focus Groups for Market and Social Research

SOC 1118 -- Context Research for Innovation

SOC 1120 -- Market and Social Surveys

SOC 1127 -- EPIC: Ethnographic Praxis in Industry

SOC 1220 -- Future of Work

SOC 1260 -- Market Research in Public and Private Sectors

SOC 1311 -- Micro-Organizational Theory: Social Behavior in Organizations (if not used to meet the “Foundations” requirement, above)

SOC 1315 -- Macro-Organizational Theory: Organizations in Social Context (if not used to meet the “Foundations” requirement, above)

SOC 1870A -- Investing in Social Change: The Practice of Philanthropy

SOC 1870L -- The Economic Foundations of Everyday Life

SOC 1871C -- Sociology of the Legal Profession

SOC 1871O -- Law, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship

SOC 1872B -- Sociology of Money

SOC 1872H -- Sociology of FIRE

SOC 1872T -- Social Innovation and Disruption

Organization-Relevant Electives (ORE):

(Up to two courses from the list below)

AMCV 1610A -- American Advertising: History and Consequences

CLPS 1250 -- Human Factors

CLPS 1470 -- Mechanism of Motivated Decision Making

CLPS 1730 -- Psychology in Business and Economics

ECON 0110 -- Principles of Economics

ECON 1760 -- Financial Institutions

ECON 1765 -- Finance, Regulation, and the Economy: Research

ECON 1790 -- Corporate Governance, Finance, and Management

EDUC 1200 -- History of American School Reform

EDUC 1630 -- Strategic Management for School System Excellence

EDUC 1650 -- Policy Implementation in Education

EDUC 1730 -- American Higher Education in Historical Context

ETHN 1890C -- Business, Culture, and Globalization: An Ethnographic Perspective

ENGN 1930S -- Land Use and Built Environment: An Entrepreneurial View

HIST 0150A -- History of Capitalism

HIST 1979F -- Political Economy: The Intellectual History of Capitalism

PHIL 1550 -- Decision Theory: Foundations and Applications

PLCY 1700V -- Nonprofit Organizations

PLCY 1701K -- Governance in the Academy

PLCY 1701Q -- Leading Social Ventures

PLCY 1710O -- Labor Market Policy

PLCY 1824 -- Social Entrepreneurship, Policy and Systems

PLCY 1910 -- Social Entrepreneurship

POLS 1150 -- Prosperity: The Ethics and Economics of Wealth Creation

POLS 1240 -- Politics, Markets and States in Developing Countries

POLS 1820W -- Market Liberalism: Origins, Principles and Contemporary Applications