Sociology Major, B.A.

Department of Sociology

155 Hamilton Hall, CB# 3210

(919) 962-1007

Howard Aldrich, Director of Undergraduate Studies

Claire Chipman, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies

Kenneth Andrews, Chair

Leah Elms, Student Services Manager

The undergraduate major in sociology at UNC–Chapel Hill provides students with theoretical and methodological tools, and substantive insights for understanding human social life and institutions. The major is designed to offer its students training in critical thinking, analytical problem solving, reasoned judgment, and effective communication as well as broad knowledge of human relations and social systems, providing useful tools for a variety of careers. The curriculum and requirements are flexible enough to permit students to tailor their program to fit individual needs and interests. The undergraduate sociology program includes opportunities to put sociological ideas into practice through research by means of independent studies, theses, and internships.

Department Programs



Graduate Programs

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the sociology program, students should be able to:

  • Make links between human action/consciousness and social forces/social contexts. This will include identifying how human behavior and consciousness are shaped by the social and, in turn, how the social can be changed by individual behavior and collective action
  • Identify and define major sociological concepts and apply these concepts to social reality. Examples of concepts include norms, roles, social institutions, social stratification, power, authority, class, gender, race, social capital, life course, social networks, and social control
  • Propose an appropriate research design for studying a social phenomenon, including assessing the data and methods that would be appropriate for any given study of social phenomena
  • Describe and compare several major theoretical perspectives used by sociologists (examples include functionalism, conflict theory, institutional theory, feminist theory, and symbolic interactionism), and be able to apply these perspectives to social phenomena (poverty, human capital, inequality, inter-group conflict, etc.)


In addition to the program requirements listed below, students must

  • attain a final cumulative GPA of at least 2.0
  • complete a minimum of 45 academic credit hours earned from UNC–Chapel Hill courses
  • take at least half of their major course requirements (courses and credit hours) at UNC–Chapel Hill
  • earn a minimum of 18 hours of C or better in the major core requirements (some majors require 21 hours).

For more information, please consult the degree requirements section of the catalog.

Core Requirements
SOCI 101Sociological Perspectives (with a grade of C or better) 1, H3
SOCI 250Sociological Theory3
or SOCI 253 Sociological Theory - Experiential
SOCI 251Research Methods3
SOCI 252Data Analysis (taken during the junior year, if possible) 23
Three SOCI electives numbered above 400 (upper-level). With permission of the director of undergraduate studies, one of the following courses may count as a 400-level elective:9
Special Topics in Sociology
Independent Study and Reading
Senior Honors Research and Seminar
Senior Honors Research and Seminar
Two additional three-hour SOCI courses (six hours) 36
Total Hours27

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.


If possible, SOCI 101 should be taken by the end of the sophomore year.


Students who are double majoring in psychology and sociology may replace SOCI 252 with PSYC 210 plus (+) an additional 400-level SOCI course.


First-year seminars in sociology can count toward the major but may be taken only by first-year students.

Sociology (SOCI) course descriptions.

University graduation credit will be given for only one in each of the following sets of courses:

SOCI 130
SOCI 425
Family and Society
and Family and Society, Junior/Senior Section
SOCI 250
SOCI 253
Sociological Theory
and Sociological Theory - Experiential
SOCI 273
SOCI 274
Social and Economic Justice, Experiential Education
and Social and Economic Justice
SOCI 411
SOCI 413
Social Movements and Collective Behavior
and Social Movements and Collective Behavior, Experiential
SOCI 414
SOCI 417
The City and Urbanization
and The City and Urbanization, Experiential Education
SOCI 423
SOCI 426
Sociology of Education, Experiential Education
and Sociology of Education

Students must earn grades of C or better in SOCI 101 and at least 18 hours in the major.

Courses in Career Areas

The sociology major provides an excellent foundation for many careers. We recommend the following clusters of courses for students with specific career goals in the following areas:

Business and Industry

SOCI 131Social Relations in the Workplace3
SOCI 251Research Methods3
SOCI 252Data Analysis3
SOCI 410Formal Organizations and Bureaucracy3
SOCI 415Economy and Society3
SOCI 427The Labor Force3

International Affairs and Development

SOCI 420Political Sociology3
SOCI 450Theory and Problems of Developing Societies3
SOCI 453Social Change in Latin America3


SOCI 412Social Stratification3
SOCI 423Sociology of Education, Experiential Education3
SOCI 426Sociology of Education3


SOCI 122Race and Ethnic Relations3
SOCI 123Crime and Delinquency3
SOCI 133Sociology of Politics3
SOCI 273Social and Economic Justice, Experiential Education3
SOCI 274Social and Economic Justice3
SOCI 420Political Sociology3
SOCI 424Law and Society3
SOCI 442Conflict and Bargaining3

Public Policy

SOCI 133Sociology of Politics3
SOCI 251Research Methods3
SOCI 252Data Analysis3
SOCI 273Social and Economic Justice, Experiential Education3
SOCI 274Social and Economic Justice3
SOCI 412Social Stratification3
SOCI 414The City and Urbanization3
SOCI 415Economy and Society3
SOCI 417The City and Urbanization, Experiential Education3
SOCI 420Political Sociology3
SOCI 422Sociology of Health and Mental Illness3
SOCI 424Law and Society3
SOCI 429Religion and Society3
SOCI 431Aging3
SOCI 468United States Poverty and Public Policy3

Community Service, Organizing, and Advocacy

SOCI 133Sociology of Politics3
SOCI 273Social and Economic Justice, Experiential Education3
SOCI 274Social and Economic Justice3
SOCI 411Social Movements and Collective Behavior3
SOCI 412Social Stratification3
SOCI 413Social Movements and Collective Behavior, Experiential3
SOCI 427The Labor Force3
SOCI 429Religion and Society3
SOCI 468United States Poverty and Public Policy3

Medicine and Public Health

SOCI 251Research Methods3
SOCI 252Data Analysis3
SOCI 422Sociology of Health and Mental Illness3
SOCI 431Aging3
SOCI 468United States Poverty and Public Policy3
SOCI 469Health and Society3

Special Opportunities in Sociology and Management and Society

Honors in Sociology

The department attempts to identify and invite all qualified students to participate in the senior honors program. Students who are not contacted, especially double majors, transfer students, and students who declare their major in sociology relatively late in their college careers, are encouraged to speak with their major advisor or the department’s honors advisor no later than the preregistration period during the second semester of their junior year.

To graduate with honors in sociology, a major must meet the following requirements:

  • At least a 3.3 cumulative grade point average in major courses and all courses taken at the University
  • Completion of an honors thesis based on independent study, which may involve collection of data by the student, under the supervision of a faculty thesis advisor
  • Participation in an honors seminar program during the fall and spring semesters of the senior year.

Students may receive credit for one or both senior honors research and seminar courses (SOCI 691H and SOCI 692H) depending on the extent of their thesis work.

For more information on honors, contact Professor Howard Aldrich, CB# 3210, 202 Hamilton Hall, (919) 962-5044.

Honors in Management and Society

A student may, as a result of distinguished work (3.3 grade point average or higher), be awarded a degree with honors or highest honors. This requires completion of a senior honors thesis. Interested students should contact the management and society office for more information. Honors students should enroll in MNGT 691H and MNGT 692H. MNGT 692H will fulfill one of the course requirements from the social context of business group listed above.

Student Clubs

The Sociology Club is a student-run, student-driven organization that may provide relevant presentations, discussions, guidance, and/or service opportunities in sociology. The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) is a student-run, student-driven organization that may provide relevant presentations, discussions, guidance, and/or service and intern opportunities in management and society.

Independent Study and Reading

SOCI 396 may be taken for one to three hours of course credit depending on the amount of academic work planned by the student. It is usually taken by juniors and seniors who have completed at least two or three courses in sociology. Students may use independent study to

  • Do reading and research in an area in which no course is offered
  • Take advanced or more specialized coursework in a specific area of sociology

After an area of study has been selected, the student contacts a faculty member in the department whose interests are in or related to the topic area. If the faculty member agrees to direct the student’s independent study, the student needs final approval by the department’s director of undergraduate studies. It is the student’s and faculty supervisor’s responsibility to determine the amount of reading and/or outside work to be done, the frequency with which the student’s progress will be assessed, and the papers or examinations that will constitute the course requirements. An approved learning contract is necessary, and some written work involving sociological analysis is required to receive credit for SOCI 396. Students must sign up for SOCI 396 before the end of the first week of classes.

Independent Experiential Internship

Students may combine employment and study in the form of an internship program for which they receive one to three academic credits through SOCI 393. The student must assume responsibility for employment arrangements. Students may not receive credit for paid employment. The student contacts a faculty member in the department whose interests are in or related to the area of the internship. If the faculty member agrees to direct the internship, the student needs final approval by the department’s director of undergraduate studies. Credit is not provided for the internship alone; some written work involving sociological analysis is required to receive credit for SOCI 393. Because of the expectation that students doing an internship for academic credit will conduct substantive sociological analysis, it is very important that planning begin early. Students must secure all approvals for the contract before the first day of the internship.

Undergraduate Howard W. Odum Award

The Undergraduate Howard W. Odum Award is presented yearly to a graduating senior who has displayed excellence in undergraduate sociological achievement. This award was established in 1967 in honor of Professor Howard Odum, who founded and first chaired the UNC–Chapel Hill Department of Sociology. Odum was a pioneer in American sociology and a major influence on the discipline. The department faculty selects the recipient of the annual award on the basis of grade records and other demonstrations of academic talent and accomplishment as an undergraduate.

Undergraduate Research

Students interested in working with faculty on their research projects should contact the Office for Undergraduate Research for more information and also speak with the director of undergraduate studies.