This information is part of the Colgate University catalog, 2022-23.

Sociology is the scientific study of the organization and functioning of societies, their major institutions, groups, and values. Sociologists are particularly interested in understanding and explaining social issues and problems, and the sources of stress and change in contemporary and historical societies. Our courses provide students with critical perspectives on a wide range of major social issues, including social inequality, race/ethnicity, gender/sexuality, the media, immigration, social movements, globalization, crime/deviance, education, war, and environmental issues. In addition, students take courses on classical and contemporary sociological theory, research design, and qualitative and quantitative research methods. The culmination of our curriculum is the required senior seminar. This course provides an opportunity for students to draw on their substantive and methodological training to complete an independent research project on a topic of their choice. Students majoring or minoring in sociology go on to careers in fields such as communications, marketing, business, management, education, law, medicine/public health, and the nonprofit sector.

Students in the Class of 2021 can find the previous major requirements in the 2018-2019 University Catalog.


Major Requirements

The sociology major consists of nine courses, only one of which may be outside of sociology. Successful completion requires a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.00 across all courses counting toward the major. At least three courses must be at the 300-level.

Required Courses

Research-Intensive Course

One research-intensive course from the following list should be completed by the end of junior year. Research-intensive courses (RI) are built around analysis of quantitative and/or qualitative sociological data to help understand key social institutions and issues. RI courses provide in-depth experience with research methods and students use those methods to develop class-based research projects on the topic of the course. Students who have completed a research methods course to fulfill a second major or minor may petition their advisor to use that course to fulfill the requirement.

Four Electives

Students may use one 200- or 300-level anthropology course to fulfill this requirement. No more than one independent study in the department may be used to fulfill this requirement.

Four courses chosen from the following list: 

Senior Seminar in Sociology

GPA Requirement

To qualify for graduation, a minimum GPA of 2.0 is required in all courses counting toward the major.

Honors and High Honors

To be invited to apply for departmental honors, students must have a minimum GPA of 3.50 across all courses counting toward the major and a minimum GPA of 3.30 overall at the end of their junior year. 

To achieve departmental honors, students must complete the year-long honors seminar ( and ) in lieu of . Working with the seminar professor and at least one additional adviser, students shall write and defend an extended project proposal in the fall and complete a substantial research paper during the spring semester. As part of the coursework, students shall present the faculty with an oral defense of their proposal, an academic poster reporting their preliminary results, a thesis manuscript, and a final oral presentation. Students enrolling in  must also enroll in  and complete a senior thesis, regardless of whether they continue to pursue honors.  is an additional requirement for students pursuing honors, and cannot be counted as an elective.

Certification of honors and high honors is primarily based on the quality of the written thesis. To receive honors, a three-person faculty committee must determine that it is strong in each of the following areas: asking and answering a clear sociological research question, engaging deeply with social theory, collecting and analyzing empirical materials, and writing in a well-organized and professional style. To receive high honors, the committee must determine that the thesis is excellent in each area. 

At graduation, candidates must have a minimum GPA of 3.50 across all courses counting toward the major and a minimum GPA of 3.30 overall to qualify for honors. Candidates must have a minimum GPA of 3.70 across all courses counting toward the major and a minimum GPA of 3.30 overall at graduation to qualify for high honors.


Sociology and Anthropology Department

For more information about the department, including Faculty, transfer credit, awards, etc., please visit the  Department catalog page.