Courses of Study

Departments and Programs

View All Departments and Programs

Majors and Minors

View All Majors and Minors



Studying sociology at Colby provides students with the conceptual frameworks and analytic skills required to understand how social forces shape people’s lives. Students acquire expertise in qualitative and quantitative research methods and familiarity with standards used to assess data and published research. They learn how sociological theory helps us to analyze institutions, the dynamics of social and cultural change, and persisting inequalities relating to race, class, and gender. Small course enrollments foster direct student-teacher relations, intensive discussions, and close supervision of required writing projects. Department courses, events, and supervised research opportunities, often part of community-based learning, foster the development of critical and self-reflexive thinking as well as analytical and communication skills. Students are prepared through sociology to participate actively in the private and public sectors, an increasingly diverse democracy, and an even more diverse global community. Sociology majors are prepared for employment and graduate or professional school. In addition to sociology, majors pursue such career paths as law, medicine, public health, urban planning, business, advertising, social work, and education.

Study Abroad

Department policy is that students majoring in sociology complete Sociology 215, 271, 274 and at least one of the other required courses (except electives and Sociology 493) prior to study abroad. Generally, students will receive credit toward the major for one course per semester, if that course is approved in advance by the department. Students majoring in sociology are urged to seek approval for a range of courses, in advance, to be prepared for possible cancellation of an approved course in any non-Colby-sponsored program abroad. Exceptions to the one-semester and core-course credit rules may be granted for students qualified to study abroad in the yearlong sociology program at the London School of Economics.


Requirements for the Major in Sociology

Sociology 131, 215, 271, 274, and 493, either 212 or 272, either 252 or 276, and four additional sociology courses, one of which must be a 300-level seminar. One course in another social science at the 200 level or above may be substituted for one 200-level elective. One elective may be taken in a study-abroad program. Sociology 215, 271, and 274 are to be completed before the senior year, typically during the second year.

Honors in Sociology

Seniors majoring in sociology may apply for the honors program by securing a faculty sponsor in the Sociology Department, a secondary faculty reader, and approval of the department as a whole. The program involves independent research conducted under the auspices of Sociology 483. To apply, a student must have a 3.25 overall grade point average and a 3.6 grade point average in the major or special permission of the department. Students may apply for the program at the end of the term prior to the semester in which they would begin honors work and no later than the second week of the term during which honors work begins. A maximum of six credits may be received, none of which may count toward the required elective credits in the major. Enrollment options include spring semester; spring semester and Jan Plan; fall semester; fall semester and Jan Plan; fall, Jan Plan, and spring semesters. The final product will usually consist of a research paper of 50 or more pages of superior quality.

Distinction in the Major

Distinction in the major upon graduation requires a 3.75 grade point average in the major and a 3.5 overall grade point average.

Note: Sociology 271 fulfills a quantitative reasoning requirement (Q). Sociology courses have limited enrollments.




Colby College reserves the right in its sole judgement to make changes of any nature in its program, calendar, academic schedule, fees, deposits, or any other matters in this catalogue.