A.B. in Sociology Concentration Requirements

The concentration in Sociology (leading to a Bachelor of Arts) provides a foundation in sociological theory and methods and the opportunity to cultivate more specialized knowledge in the discipline’s substantive interests. Students develop that focus through their coursework, taking required introductory, methods and theory courses and taking electives in diverse areas, including  six areas (pillars) where the department has significant strengths: Globalization & Development; Organizations and Economic Sociology; Population, Health and Family; Race, Class, Gender and Inequality; Sociology of the Environment; Urban Sociology.  Students refine their interests during the senior seminar and through their completion of a senior thesis or capstone project that analyze data and develop sociological accounts of conditions and processes both within the USA and abroad.

Many of our undergraduate concentrators have developed a second concentration in a wide array of fields, including public health, public policy, economics, ethnic studies, music, and gender and sexuality.

Through this concentration, students develop the analytical skills that prepare them for a wide range of careers after graduation, including research associate, marketing and business analyst, program evaluation, education, social services, as well as a variety of others. It also prepares students for opportunities in the new economy, including those that address how people engage the environment and use information technology. Our graduates also continue their formal education in a variety of post-graduate areas, including doctoral studies, law, social work, and health sciences.

Concentration Requirements

Sociology Core (5 courses). To ensure a firm grasp of core sociological concepts and approaches, students must take 5 required courses:

  • 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: This requirement can be fulfilled with APMA 0650 or ECON 1620 or CLPS 0900 or a similar course approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
  • SOC 1950 -- Senior Seminar
    • Allows students to refine their interests and hone their research skills by completing a senior thesis or capstone project

Sociology Electives (5 courses). To ensure knowledge of substantive areas in sociology, students must take 5 elective courses in the sociology department with the following qualifications:

  • One Advanced Seminar - One elective course must be an advanced seminar (SOC 1870-1873).
  • Two Advanced Courses - Two additional elective courses must be at the 1000 level. These courses may include additional advanced seminars.
  • Two Additional Electives - The final two elective courses may be at the 0100 or 1000 level. 

Substitutions: Students who take sociology courses at other institutions may petition to have up to two of those courses count towards their sociology concentration. Additionally, students can petition to substitute one or both of the two additional elective courses with relevant courses taken in other departments at Brown. These substitutions must be approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Additional information

The Senior Seminar

Sociology requires all concentrators to complete a thesis or capstone project in their senior year. The purpose of the thesis or capstone project is to allow students an opportunity to apply the knowledge they acquired on a topic of their own interests. To fulfill this requirement students enroll in SOC 1950 – Senior Seminar. Participation in this seminar allows each cohort of concentrators to discuss their diverse interests and expose them to the wide range of applications of Sociological knowledge.

An undergraduate thesis must ask an original research question, answer it with appropriate evidence, and place that work within relevant scholarly literature in sociology. The thesis is supervised by a faculty member who serves as the primary advisor, and one additional faculty member who serves as a reader. By the end of the sixth semester, students must submit a prospectus of the senior thesis to the Director of Undergraduate Studies. At the start of the seventh semester students should submit to the Director of Undergraduate Studies a proposal (not more than four pages) accompanied by the signature of one faculty member indicating that he or she is willing to serve as primary advisor on the thesis. Only a senior thesis qualifies the student for Honors.

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 learning in the concentration. A capstone project differs from a thesis in its scholarly content and form, and it depends only on the evaluation of the senior seminar instructor. Whereas the senior thesis follows the form of a conventional research paper, the project allows a wider array of research and creative outputs, including but not limited to video documentaries, photographic exhibitions, and applied or policy related reports with an off-campus organization. Projects are complemented by a paper or report that situates the central subject matter of the project within the context of sociological scholarship.


In order to be considered for honors, students must receive a grade point average of at least 3.5 (A=4, B=3, C=2) on all concentration courses taken, and can take no more than one (1) of the concentration courses with the "S/NC" option. Honors also requires a senior thesis, with a recommendation of Honors by the advisor and reader, that demonstrates an understanding of empirical research.

Independent Study

Students can use no more than one (1) Independent Study course to meet the concentration course requirements. This course counts only towards a 1000 level substantive requirement and will not serve as a s substitute for any of the core concentration requirements.