Majors & Minors


There are no special admissions requirements or procedures for students interested in majoring in sociology. Students are assigned a major advisor on declaring the major; prior to that, students are encouraged to consult with any member of the department regarding their choice and sequence of courses.


The Sociology major is comprised of 10 courses. These include:

Foundations (3 courses):

SOCI W1000 The Social World (recommended no later than the sophomore year)

SOCI W3000 Social Theory

SOCI W 3010 Methods for Social Research (no later than the junior year)

Electives (5 courses):

Of the five electives required for the major, no more than one can be at the 2000 level and at least one must be a seminar at the 3900 (or 4000) level.

With the exception of the senior thesis or designated research seminar (see below) the Foundations and Elective courses may be taken at either Barnard or Columbia

Senior Requirement (2 courses):

There are two ways to satisfy the senior requirement.

Research Paper Option: two upper level seminars, including enrollment in (1) a designated research seminar (3900 level) in the Barnard Sociology Department that requires a 25- to 30-page paper, including some primary research; and (2) any additional upper level seminar (3900 or 4000 level).

Thesis Option: two-semester senior thesis, involving original sociological research and analysis on a topic of the student’s choice, in consultation with an advisor; requires enrollment in SOCI BC3087-3088.

Additional Information about the Senior Requirement

Research Paper Option: This option is intended for majors who are interested in graduating with a broader exposure to the discipline of sociology, with more limited experience in conducting original research.

Each semester the department offers 2-3 designated research seminars, which are listed on the department’s website prior to the Spring program planning period. These seminars vary in content and format and are open to all students, with priority given to senior sociology majors taking the course to meet their senior requirement.

Prerequisites for students taking the designated research seminar to meet the senior requirement include successful completion of: (1) SOCI W1000 (Social World); (2) SOCI W3000 (Social Theory) or SOCI W3010 (Research Methods); and (3) at least one elective course related to the focus of the seminar.  Instructors may waive some aspect of the prerequisites.

Students may also enroll in these seminars prior to their senior year for elective credit.

Thesis Option: The two-semester senior thesis involves original sociological research and analysis on a topic of the student’s choice, in consultation with an advisor.  This option is intended for majors who want the opportunity to explore a sociological subfield in depth and conduct independent primary research as their senior capstone experience.

Students interested in writing a senior thesis must submit a 2-3 paragraph proposal, along with a brief letter of endorsement from a faculty member in the department who has agreed to serve as their thesis advisor to the Department Chair, no later than the advanced program planning deadline for the student’s first semester of their senior year. Decisions will be made in consultation with the student’s program and thesis advisors prior to the final program planning deadline for that semester. In exceptional cases, students may apply for and receive permission to enroll in the two-semester option before the deadline for final program approval in the first semester of their senior year.

Prerequisites:  (1) SOCI W1000 (Social World); (2) SOCI W3010 (Methods for Social Research); and (3) at least one elective course related to the proposed thesis topic must be completed before the first semester of the senior year to be eligible for the two-semester thesis.

Students approved for the senior thesis will enroll in SOCI BC3087 and BC3088, Individual Projects for Seniors, with their selected advisor.

All seniors must submit a final, bound copy of the research paper or senior thesis to the Department no later than the last day of classes of the second semester of their senior year in order to receive credit (Pass or Pass with Distinction) for the senior requirement. 

Use this link to identify the major requirements that you have completed.



5 courses are required for the minor in Sociology, including SOCI W 1000 (The Social World), SOCI W 3000 (Social Theory) and three elective courses (no more than one at the 2000-level), to be selected in consultation with the Sociology Department Chair.



Students electing the research paper option to complete their Senior Requirement can do so in the following upper level seminars:


Fall 2015



Adolescence and early adulthood is a critical period in our lives. This research-intensive seminar explores how adolescent transitions are studied, how they compare across different national contexts, and how individual, family, and community factors affect the type and timing of different transitions.



This research and writing-intensive seminar is designed for senior majors with a background and interest in the sociology of gender and sexuality. The goal of the seminar is to facilitate completion of the senior requirement (a 25-30 page paper) based on “hands on” research with original qualitative data. Since the seminar will be restricted to students with prior academic training in the subfield, students will be able to receive intensive research training and guidance through every step of the research process, from choosing a research question to conducting original ethnographic and interview-based research, to analyzing and interpreting one’s findings. The final goal of the course will be the production of an original paper of standard journal-article length. Students who choose to pursue their projects over the course of a  second semester will have the option of revisiting their articles further for submission and publications.



Topic: Mass Incarceration and Criminalization

In this course, students will learn how to do research into contemporary mass incarceration and criminalization. In the tradition of social science research into law and society, they will ask and answer questions about the law-in-action.  They will read law-and-society research and discuss how the authors designed empirical research to understand incarceration today. Throughout the course, students will focus on how one asks and answers new questions about law and imprisonment in a sociological tradition. Students wanting to learn how to research the law as a living part of the social world should consider taking this course. The class will be particularly helpful to advanced social-science majors with an interest in law -- and contemporary criminalization (of poverty and immigration) and mass incarceration. Previous exposure to social science research is strongly recommended, but no previous knowledge about the law is necessary. 


Spring 2016



Examines how changes in the economy, racial composition, and class relations affect community life-how it is created, changed and sometimes lost-with a specific focus on the local urban context. Student research projects will address how contemporary forces such as neoliberalization, gentrification and tourism impact a community's social fabric.



This class will examine the historical roots and ongoing persistence of social, economic, and political inequality and the continuing role that it plays in U.S. society by examing how such issues have been addressed both in social science and in law. Limited enrollment.



Discusses theories of race and ethnicity, distinctions between prejudice, discrimination, and racism, and the intersectionality paradigm. Under instructor's guidance students design a research proposal, conduct their own fieldwork and write a research paper on a sociological question relating to race and/or ethnicity.



Examines how changes in the economy, racial composition, and class relations affect community life—how it is created, changed and sometimes lost—with a specific focus on the local urban context. Student research projects will address how contemporary forces such as neoliberalization, gentrification and tourism impact a community’s social fabric.



Selected Senior Thesis Titles


The Effects of Formal and Informal Social Control on Neighborhood Quality of Life: The Role of the Red Hook Community Jusice Center in Influencing Community Perceptions in Red Hook, Brooklyn

Black Politics Before and After Obama: The Construction of Race in Two Congressional Campaigns

The Contribution of Narrative making to the Construction of Immigrant Identity

It's Getting Harder and Harder to Breathe: Acculturation Effects on Asthma Prevalence in Hispanic Immigrants

Female Drug Lords: Exploring the Circumsances that Created Seven Female Drug Lords in Latin America

The Intergenerational Transmission of Gender Attitudes in Korean Immigrant Households


How to Socialize the Highly Institutionalized

Consumption as Lifestyle: Rooted Authenticity among Consumers of an Afro-Brazilian Dance-Fight

Nothing but a Passport

Military Training Camps and Juvenile Detention Centers:  A Cross-Analysis of the Institutionalization of People

How Schools' Organizational Characteristics and Student Demographic Characteristics Correlate to Teacher Turnover: Implications for Education in the United States

The Transformation of U.S. Immigration Law: How it has Affected the Social Well-being of Mixed-Status Families


Marking Progress, Persistent Inequalities:  An Exploration of the Family and Career Lives of Physicians and Dual Physician Couples by Gender

Watch How Di Gyal Dem Bruk Out:  How Sexual Freedom and Self-Expression Are Asserted in the Dancehall Space

Pathways to Autism Diagnosis:  The Effects and Implications of Doctor Blocking

Homemaker of the 1950 vs. Modern Supermom Gender Representation in Television Sitcoms Pas and Present

Organizational Isomorphism in New York City Public Schools

In Sickness and In Health:  Women, Hysteria, and Disordered Eating

Immigrants' Struggles to Obtain Healthcare in the United States

The Silent Disease:  Experiences of Autism for an Oral Society and the Organizations that Serve It

The Presentation of Self on Facebook:  Understanding Gender Differences in SNS Usage

The Meaning of Women's Life Course Sequencing:  The Role of Social Class

"Trusting the Force":  Strategies for Creative Group Work

From Mainstream to Deviant Status:  Exploring the Recruitment Tactics and Authority Structure Across Three High Commitment Organizations

Race and Social Interactions in New York City Hair Salons: A Sociological Masterpiece

Model Minority?  The Impact of the Gendered Pay Gap on Male and Female Experiences in the Modeling Industry


Tangled In A Green Web:  Youth, the Environment, and Online Networks

Trying New Foods--A Mark of Refinement or a Mark of a Working Class Upbringing? A Study of Food, Taste, and Class

The Role of Mosques in the Anti-Islamaphobia Movement:  A Comparison of Arab and South Asian Mobilization

Understanding the Difference between Dominican Men and Women and their Racial Identity

Creating "Mexicaness":  Family, Immigrant Transnationalism, and the Homogenization of Media for Mexican Immigrants in New York City

Language Codes and Social Capital in our 6th Grade Classrooms

Health Beliefs, Health Behaviors, and Cultural Identity:  A Sociological Study of University Students' cultural identity, health beliefs and behaviors in the New York City

Female Head Covering in Judaism:  A Sociological Masterpiece

Learning Service and Service-Learning:  Organizational Innovation in Higher Education

The Role of Leadership and Structure in Creating Change:  A Comparison Across Take Back the Night Organizations

Voices from the Amazon:  Living and Learning Development

American Citizenship:  An Exploration of Youth Political Preferences


Diagnosis, Eating Disorders and the DSM:  Conflicting Principles and Contingencies of Practice

Nosotros los cubanos:  The Effects of Labor Market Integration in Miami on the Identities of Cuban Refugee Professionals

Black in White:  Black Identities at Columbia University

Technology Enabling Opportunities for New Authorities to Emerge

Brave Boys and Girly Girls:  Gender and Race in Popular Children's Literature

Pursuit: Exploring Institutional Stigma Management

The Armenian-American Identity:  Collectivity Against All Odds

Wake Up, or the Parade Will Pass You By:  A Study of Changing Organizing Practices in a National Labor Union

Cultivating Kinky Identity:  Sex, Class, and Community on a College Campus

Midwives and the Ideology of Empowerment:  The Relationship Between Ideology, Practice, and Knowledge Construction

A Post-structuralist Critique on How the Body is Socialized in Seventeen Magazine

"So You're Graduating…":  Option-Set Formation in High-Stakes, Goal Ambiguous Decisions

Assimilation as Social Interaction:  How Second Generation, Chinese American College Students Exercise Agency Over Their Methods of Incorporation

"Is There ANYTHING That Doesn't Make Me Look Fat?:"  An Exploration of College Aged Women's Experiences of Body Dissatisfaction and Self-Surveillance

Application of Neoinstitutional Theory to Public Education:  Teachers' Pedagogical Practices in Response to Formal School-Wide Polices, Programs, and Regulations

Get Up, Stand Up: Examining the Role of Protest Music in Social Movements

The Construction of Lesbianism and the Heterosexual Regime


Frequently Asked Questions

How do I…

Declare a major or minor?

The Major
You may declare a major during or after the second semester of your sophomore year. Obtain a "Major Declaration Form" from the Registrar's Office and meet with the department chair. The department normally assigns students to advisors based on availability but you may also ask a faculty member directly.  File the signed form with the Registrar.

The Minor
You declare a minor in sociology once you have completed five courses, including SOCI W 1000 or SOCI W 3000 (see "Requirements for the Minor"). Obtain a "Minor Declaration Form" from the Registrar's Office and have this signed by the department chair. File one copy of the form with Susan Campbell, the Department Assistant in 332G Milbank Hall and the original with the Registrar.

Declare a Double, Combined or Special Major?

The Double Major
A double major means that you intend to complete the major requirements in two departments with no overlapping courses. However, there are two options for completing the thesis requirement for the double major.

Double major with one thesis
In this option you will write one essay that satisfies the requirements for both majors. You must have an essay sponsor for both departments and both departments must agree on your essay grade, including possible Distinction. For this option, you must fill out the "Double Major-One Integrating Senior Project" form available from the Registrar’s Office.

Double major with two theses
You can choose to write two distinct senior essays, one for each of the two major departments. You use the traditional “Major” form to declare the double major.

You declare a double major any time during or after the second semester of the sophomore year. The forms are available at the Registrar's Office in Milbank Hall: please make sure you pick up the correct form (see above).

Combined Major
For most combined majors you create your own major based on course offerings from two or more departments. A combined major integrates in-depth coursework - at least 7 courses—from each department or program. During the senior year, you will write an integrating senior essay that will have a sponsor from each department. Unless a particular course combination is listed in the Barnard Catalogue (e.g. a combined major with Human Rights, Jewish Studies or Women's Studies), you must petition the Committee on Programs and Academic Standing (CPAS) and receive the approval of the Chairs of the sponsoring departments.

Obtain forms and instructions from your Class Dean in the Dean of Studies Office. The departments must agree on your senior essay grade, including possible Distinction.

Special Major
A special major is a major designed by a student because Barnard does not officially offer it. As with the combined major, you must submit a petition to the Committee on Programs and Academic Standing (CPAS). The form asks for a written rationale or proposal explaining the special major and a list of courses that satisfy the special major. If at a later date, you need to substitute or drop one of these courses you MUST submit a petition in advance to CPAS giving your rationale for the drop or substitution. All involved departments (see below) must approve these changes.

A special major does not necessarily involve more than one department. If it does, both departments must agree on your senior essay grade, including possible Distinction, and on your potential Departmental Honors nomination. Obtain forms and instructions from your Class Dean in the Dean of Studies Office. ^back to top

Receive Course Approval for Summer School?

Meet with the Department Chair to discuss the course and, if possible, provide a course description and reading list. When the course is completed fill out the course approval request form, and provide a copy of the syllabus and other course requirements to your advisor. It is only after this has been submitted that course approval will be assessed. Approval is at the discretion of the department. Courses that do not meet Barnard standards for workload or intellectual rigor will not be granted major or minor credit.

Except in exceptional circumstances, you can receive departmental credit for a maximum of two courses taken at another college or university (including study abroad), out of the total of ten courses required for the major, or one course taken elsewhere out of five courses required for the minor.  ^back to top

Receive Study Abroad Approval?

The office of Dean for Study Abroad has materials and information needed to make the decision on where to study abroad.

Once you have decided on a study abroad program, you should make an appointment with the Department Representative to go over your projected program. The Department Representative will need to know the following: course descriptions, the number of course hours per week, course requirements. After consulting with the director, you must fill out the Dean of Studies' Study Leave Course Approval Form, listing the courses you plan to take. The Department Representative will then pre-approve your courses through e-bear. While abroad, please keep all supporting documents (a course description, syllabus, transcript, and, when possible, course work such as papers or exams) to bring back to Barnard; this is particularly crucial if you decide to drop or add a new course.

Pre-approval does not guarantee you course credit from the department toward the major or minor. At the discretion of the department, courses that do not meet Barnard standards for workload or intellectual rigor will not be granted major or minor credit. (If in doubt, while you are abroad, you can fax or e-mail reading lists at the beginning of the term to the departmental representative.

Except in exceptional circumstances, you can receive departmental credit for a maximum of two courses taken, out of the total of ten courses required for the major, or one course out of five courses required for the minor at another college or university (including study abroad.)  ^back to top

Receive Credit for an Internship?

Barnard does not award academic credit for internships per se. However, you may use an internship experience in an independent study project sponsored by the department and receive credit for the academic work involved in the project. Online instructions about the independent study are available.  ^back to top 

Do An Independent Study?


Students who wish to do an independent study project should speak to a full-time Barnard Sociology faculty member willing to serve as sponsor, then fill out a "Request for Approval of Credit for Independent Study" (see link below) and obtain signatures from the sponsor and chair of the department. File the form with the Committee on Programs and Academic Standing, which must approve all requests. (Note that no credit is given for an internship or job experience per se, but credit is given for an academic research paper written in conjunction with an internship, subject to procedures outlined above.) Students must consult with the sponsor in advance of filing as to workload and points of credit.

A project approved for three or four points counts as a course for the purpose of the ten-course major or five-course minor requirement. No more than one such three or four-point projects may be used for the major, and no more than one for the minor. An independent study project may not be used to satisfy either the colloquium or senior seminar requirements, except with the permission of your advisor and the Department Chair.

Each instructor is limited to sponsoring one independent study project per semester.

The Registrar will assign a section and call number unique to the faculty sponsor. The Request for Approval of Credit for Independent Study is available (in PDF) from the Registrar's web site.  ^back to top

Receive Funds for Senior Thesis Research?

Tow Foundation Travel Fellowship
Barnard rising seniors seeking funding for travel expenses related to research for their senior essay should contact Dean James Runsdorf (also at 212-854-2024) in the fall of junior year about the Tow Travel Fellowship. Candidates must apply to the Committee on Honors (CoH) before March 1st of the junior year to request support for travel that will take place during the summer between the junior and senior years. Starting in 2002 the Tow Foundation has donated $25,000 each year to support senior research-related travel. Individual awards have ranged between $1,000 and $3,500.

Lucyle Hook Travel Grants
The Lucyle Hook Travel Grants are awarded by the Committee on Honors to promising Barnard rising or current seniors with enriching, eclectic senior projects who demonstrate originality and self-direction. Students seeking funding for travel and other research expenses related to their senior essay project can apply to the CoH for this grant. Expenses may be incurred during the summer prior to the senior year as well as during the senior year, i.e. the rising or current senior may apply in November for either the previous or the following summer. The applicant should submit a full description of her essay with a detailed estimate of expenses, along with a letter of recommendation from her (prospective) senior essay advisor, to the attention of Dean Karen Blank. The nomination deadline usually is around November 10. About $1,500 is available each year, with most grants in the $100-$300 range.  ^back to top

Gain human subjects permission?

Students wishing to conduct any sort of research involving individuals must fill out an on-line human subject test.  This is available through the Columbia University IRB via the RASCAL electronic grants management system at

Once at the RASCAL web site go to the log in section.  Where it says "Select Module" click on the drop down menu and select "Training Center" then enter your uni and password and log on.  Once you have logged on click on the "Course Listings" and then click on "TC0015 Morningside Human Subjects Training Course".  Instructions on the menu bar at the left tell you how to take the course (after reviewing the Course Overview, click on "Take Course").  Once you take the course, click on "Take Test." ^back to top