Sociology Department

Sociology is the scientific study of society—of patterns and processes in human social relations and behavior. The Sociology Department at Colby provides students with conceptual frameworks and analytic skills necessary to understand how social forces affect people’s lives and how people shape and transform society. Courses focused on a wide range of issues and problems help students analyze institutions and organizations, social and cultural change, persisting inequalities, and much more. Opportunities for intensive discussion and closely supervised research foster the development of critical and creative thinking. Sociology students are prepared to participate in the private and public sectors of a diverse democracy and world.

A note on course prerequisites: Students who feel they have satisfied a prerequisite in an alternative way are strongly encouraged to consult the instructor to obtain authorization to enroll.

Study Abroad

The department prefers that students majoring in sociology complete Sociology 215 and 271 prior to study abroad. Students may receive credit toward the major for up to two courses taken abroad; preferably those courses should be approved in advance. Students majoring in sociology are urged to seek advanced approval for a range of courses and to be prepared for possible cancellation of an approved course in any program abroad.


Chair, Professor Neil Gross
Professors Cheryl Townsend Gilkes and Neil Gross
; Associate Professors Christel Kesler and Damon Mayrl; Assistant Professor Annie Hikido; Visiting Assistant Professor Philip Fang 

Requirements +

Requirements for the Major in Sociology

The sociology major requires 11 courses, including Sociology 131, 215, and 271. Among the eight elective courses, an extra methods course is encouraged. At least one elective must be centrally concerned with inequality, and at least two electives must be 300-level seminars. One course in another social science at the 200 level or above may be substituted for one 200-level sociology elective (but this cannot be used to fulfill the inequality requirement). Two electives may be taken in a study-abroad program with prior approval from the department. Sociology 215 and 271 should be completed before the senior year, preferably during the second year.

Requirements for the Minor in Sociology

Seven courses including Sociology 131, 215, and 271; four electives, at least one at the 300 level or above. One course in another social science at the 200 level or above may be substituted for a 200-level elective. Electives may include an independent study (Sociology 491 or 492) for at least three credits.

Note: Sociology 271 fulfills the quantitative reasoning (Q) requirement.

Honors in Sociology

The Honors Program in Sociology (Sociology 483, 484) provides a special opportunity for independent sociological research. Seniors majoring in sociology may apply for the honors program by securing a faculty sponsor in the department, a secondary faculty reader, and approval of the department as a whole. To apply, a student must have a 3.25 overall grade point average and a 3.6 grade point average in the major. Exceptions require a petition for approval 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 is expected to be an extensive research paper of exceptional quality. With permission of the department, a thesis in the area of sociology, completed as part of the Senior Scholars Program, may be substituted for the honors thesis.

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.