Sociology

The secondary field in Sociology provides students with exposure to the bedrock theoretical ideas and empirical strategies of sociology while also allowing for a diverse, flexible plan of study.

Sociology emphasizes the successful integration of theory and empiricism, teaching the importance of both elegant thinking and analytical rigor. It is a broad, multi-paradigmatic field that concerns itself with the entire range of human social interaction. Sociology also embraces a wide variety of “strategies of knowing,” from quantitative analysis to archival and ethnographic research.

Students concentrating in other fields may well find this a useful supplement to their primary field of instruction. Sociology is also an inter-disciplinary field that bridges topics that are often studied in isolation elsewhere in the social sciences. We believe that concentrators in other fields may find it illuminating to see their "home" topic from this more general sociological perspective.

Students who study sociology as undergraduates can go on to a wide variety of occupations, from journalism and law to consulting, medicine, and public health. Sociology also teaches methodological skills relevant to a wide range of research positions in government, business, and consulting. The Sociology secondary field should thus prove useful to students looking for training in these and related fields. For students concentrating in more “distant” fields in the natural sciences and humanities, a secondary field in sociology would provide an overall exposure to the social sciences along with an opportunity for in-depth exploration of specific topics.

Requirements: 5 half courses

  1. Sociology 97: Tutorial in Sociological Theory, a basic introduction to sociological theory. Offered both terms.

  2. Sociology 128: Methods of Social Science Research, a basic introduction to methods. Offered fall term.

  3. Three concentration electives, one of which must be an advanced-level course (number 100 or above). An introductory-level course (numbered 89 or below) is recommended but not required as part of this sequence.

Other Information

One of the three "concentration electives" may be taken Pass/Fail or SAT/UNS; the introductory-level course, Sociology 97 and 128 must all be taken for letter grades. Sociology 97 will ordinarily be taken in the sophomore year. Letter-graded courses must be passed with a grade of C+ or higher in order to receive credit toward completion of the secondary field. Study abroad, Harvard Summer School, and courses offered by other Harvard faculties may count toward secondary field credit with the usual requisite approval from the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Freshman seminars taught by department faculty may also count.

Tutorial in Sociological Theory will be open to all enrolled undergraduates, including but not limited to secondary field students. Though junior tutorials are normally only open to concentrators, secondary field students may be allowed to enroll in junior tutorials for credit as electives but are not obligated to do so. Special permission from the director of undergraduate studies is required for secondary field students to enroll in junior tutorials. Secondary field students interested in exploring a subject in depth can enroll for one term of Sociology 91r, Reading and Research, with suitable faculty support and approval. Reading and research courses in Sociology require students to submit an extended term paper based on independent research. Sociology 91r is letter-graded.

Some examples of common pathways are listed below, with a selection of courses students might take to gain advanced knowledge in the field. These are not exhaustive but represent what we believe are main areas of interest based on student feedback and past experience.

Advising Resources and Expectations

For more information please contact Dr. David Ager, co-director of undergraduate studies in Sociology (ager@wjh.harvard.edu).