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Program of Study
Sociology is the study of human societies, of the institutions, organizations, and groups that compose them, and of the way individuals and groups relate to one another. The discipline also offers comparative, cross-national, and cross-cultural perspectives throughout the curriculum. Sociological knowledge is vital to the understanding of contemporary social problems. Studying this field is highly relevant to careers in human services, research, non profits, and government that address these problems.
To study the broad subject of sociology, a student needs to acquire information (what we know), methodology (how we know), and theory (how we explain). A major in sociology will require students to develop backgrounds and strengths in each of these domains. Sociology students also need to acquire critical thinking skills necessary to understand the underlying sources of and policy responses to contemporary social problems. Students may choose to concentrate in a particular content area of sociology, such as health, education, and welfare; aging and the life course; critical race studies; or children, youth, and families.
Student Learning Outcomes
The primary aim of our curriculum is to provide students with the knowledge and analytical skills necessary to understand social life in an increasingly complex world. We want our graduates to be able to use the key insights and analytic methods of sociology to improve the social conditions in which they and others coexist. We expect holders of a California State University San Marcos bachelor’s degree in sociology to be able to address large- and small-scale social problems through constructive empirical inquiry, critical analysis, and strategic action. The Sociology Department’s curriculum cultivates the theoretical, methodological, and advocacy skills integral to meeting these goals. The list below summarizes the primary knowledge and skills students graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology will possess.
Students who graduate with a B.A. in Sociology will be able to:
- Analyze and interpret the diversity of social experience using a sociological perspective, especially in relation to race, class, gender, age, sexual preference, religion and nationality.
- Assess competing theoretical approaches to societal problems of publics with differing and multiple interests; specify structural or institutional sources of these social problems; and propose and assess policies, interventions and/or modes of advocacy that will enact positive change.
- Locate, analyze, assess, and communicate sociological scholarship.
- Articulate the applicability of and demonstrate ability to employ a range of research strategies—quantitative and qualitative—to particular research questions, theoretical orientations, and social contexts.
- Articulate the ethical and social justice implications of sociological inquiry.
All students majoring in sociology complete a series of required preparatory and core courses that build proficiency in each of the learning objectives listed above. The required courses include:
- a basic introduction to sociology (SOC 101 , or its equivalent: Addressing learning objectives 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5);
- an introduction to statistics for the social sciences (SOC 201 , or its equivalent: Addressing learning objectives 1 and 4);
- a survey of the social correlates of inequality (SOC 311 , SOC 313 , or SOC 315 : Addressing learning objectives 1, 2, and 5);
- a foundational survey of sociological theory (SOC 320 : Addressing learning objectives 1, 2, and 5);
- two courses in sociological research methods, one focusing on quantitative techniques and one focusing on qualitative methods (SOC 360 and SOC 361 , respectively: Addressing learning objectives 1, 3 and 4); and
- one senior-level capstone experience (SOC 480 or SOC 495 : Addressing learning objectives 1, 2, 3, and 5).
Opportunities for Concentrated Study
Each student majoring in sociology must also choose a concentration area in which to pursue more focused instruction around a key social issue or set of issues. While gaining a depth of understanding in a particular content area, students also further develop the key skills and knowledge encompassed by our general learning objectives. We currently offer five areas of concentrated study:
- Standard Concentration
- Aging and the Life Course
- Children, Youth, and Families
- Critical Race Studies
- Health, Education, and Welfare
The requirements for each concentration are described in detail below.
An undergraduate degree in sociology may lead to careers in advertising and market research, public-opinion polling, city planning, social services, community relations, community organizing, and a variety of other occupations in the public and private sectors. In order to facilitate the understanding of how sociology can be applied in real social organizations, students may take an internship in an organization or agency serving the community or in a social research setting. Our graduates are also prepared to continue the study of sociology at the graduate level for careers in human services, research, or teaching.
Students who wish to learn more about the Sociology Department are invited to speak with the sociology faculty and to visit the department website.
Two lower-division courses, each consisting of 3-4 semester units, are required as preparation for the sociology major. The first course is an introduction to the field of sociology. The second course is an introduction to statistics used in quantitative sociological research methods.
Special Conditions for the Bachelor of Arts and Minor in Sociology
Each course counted toward the major (including Preparation for the Major) or the minor must be completed with a grade of C (2.0) or better. No course counting for Major requirements may be taken for a grade of Credit/No Credit. A minimum of eighteen (18) units in sociology must be completed at Cal State San Marcos.
For those majoring in Criminology and Justice Studies and minoring in Sociology, twelve (12) units of the minor may be used for the major.
The Sociology Department also offers a minor in Criminology and Justice Studies. Please see the separate catalog entry for this minor.
The Sociology major offers four different area concentrations: (1) Aging and the Life Course; (2) Children, Youth, and Families; (3) Health, Education, and Welfare; and (4) Critical Race Studies. Concentrations require 15-16 units. Additionally, students may choose to follow a general sociology course of study, which is designated as the “Standard Concentration.”
Language Proficiency (0-9 Units)
All Sociology majors must meet a second-language proficiency requirement. This is satisfied with a 200-level class or demonstrating proficiency in a language other than English. For details on how to satisfy this requirement, please refer to Language Proficiency Requirement .
Breadth Requirement (3 Units)
Additional course in Upper Division Social Sciences (DD designated) outside the major. This requirement can also count as the DD requirement in Upper Division General Education, but it must be taken in a Social Science other than Sociology or Criminology & Justice Studies. Any course carrying the DD designation outside of Sociology or Criminology & Justice Studies can be used to fulfill this requirement. If students choose to satisfy their UDGE DD with a course outside the major, the breadth requirement will become 3 free elective units.
Preparation for the Major (6-7 Units)
Major Requirements (20 Units)
Choose One of the Following: (4 Units)
Requirements for Health, Education, and Welfare Concentration
Select Four (4) Units from the Following Courses (4 Units)
Total (16 Units)
* If not used to satisfy the requirement above.
Minimum Total (120 Units)
Students must take a sufficient number of elective units to bring the total number of units to a minimum of 120
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