A Sociology Concentration at Harvard
The concentration is distinguished by its relatively small size and its intellectual flexibility. It allows personal attention to students and ready access to faculty and administrators. Having relatively few requirements (twelve half-courses for the A.B.), it allows students substantial flexibility in meeting individual intellectual agendas.
Course emphases range widely from the theoretical to the applied, and incorporate a broad array of approaches, both quantitative and non-quantitative. The Department has particular strengths of faculty specialization in comparative and historical sociology, the study of culture, Chinese and East Asian studies, Caribbean studies, demography, development/modernization, economy and society, education, mathematical sociology, qualitative and quantitative methods of research, networks, occupations/professions, political sociology, sociology of organizations, race/ethnic/minority relations, social change and social networks, stratification, mobility and social theory, collective behavior/social movements, sex and gender, urban sociology, poverty, housing and homelessness.
Students may elect to do a joint concentration in sociology and another field. This can be done either with sociology as the primary or secondary field. A joint concentration is always an honors concentration and requires a senior honors thesis.
The Junior Tutorial
Required in the junior year, Sociology 98 is run as a small research workshop in which a small group of students undertake a research project or set of related projects under the close supervision of a faculty member. The object of the tutorial is to provide students with research experience on topics of significant concern to sociologists.
The Honors Thesis (Sociology 99)
The Senior Thesis is optional in sociology but concentrators wishing to graduate with honors in Sociology must write an Honors Thesis, typically involving extended research in an area of sociology of particular interest to the student, under the supervision of a faculty advisor. Students are supported in their thesis work with a weekly scheduled, optional, group seminar for consultation and discussion about choice of problems, possible data, and procedures. Theses vary widely in their specific topic and in the methods used to do the research. Recent theses have included in depth interviews with poor teen-age mothers, participant observation in a southern civil rights organization, a re-analysis of the original data used for the book The Bell Curve, a study of news groups on the internet, an historical study of the struggle of an Indian tribe for federal recognition, and a sociological autobiography.
Each year the department awards the Albert M. Fulton, Class of 1897, Prize to that Sociology concentrator who submits the best thesis "... judged by its contents," research methods, "... and literary expression, in the field of ... sociology." The amount of the prize varies; in recent years it has been several hundred dollars.
You Can Go Anywhere With a Degree in Sociology
imagine the possibilities . . .
with a wide variety of applications to many fields, a degree in
sociology can prepare you for the challenges you set for yourself and
that the world has set before you.
The faculty contact/adviser for Sociology is the department’s Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies, Rachel Meyer.