Sociology is the study of social groups such as families, institutions and organizations. It focuses on how people organize themselves into groups, what relationships come from the organization and what kind of dynamics exist within the group. Students interested in majoring in sociology in college typically have a choice between pursuing a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Arts. Both degrees have similar schedules until the last year in the program.

General Education Courses

Both bachelor's degrees in sociology require students to complete approximately 120 credits of total coursework, and a large portion of both programs is taken up with general education courses. These courses give students a broad liberal arts education, exposing them to different cultures and schools of thought. Requirements vary, but examples of general education courses are college writing or composition, American history, philosophy of literature, critical reading, introduction to psychology, biology and anthropology. General education requirements make up about 60 credits of the undergraduate degree, and students typically take these credits during their first two years.

Lower-Division Courses

Students in the first two years of their bachelor's degrees in sociology also take introductory courses in the field. Both bachelor's degrees require students to take about 30 credits of sociology courses for the major, but Bachelor of Science programs require students to take more mathematically rigorous courses than Bachelor of Arts programs. Examples of common lower-division courses required by both degrees are introductory sociology, introduction to statistics and introduction to sociological research methods. Bachelor of Science degrees also tend to require students to take calculus 1 and sociology laboratory, a class that gives students experience doing hands-on sociological research work in a laboratory.

Upper-Division Courses

After completing the general education requirements and introductory courses in sociology, students spend the last two years of college taking major-related requirements and electives. Requirements vary, but both bachelor's programs typically require students to take similar major-related courses. Examples of these courses are sociology of race and ethnicity, sociology of gender, sociology of class and poverty, and research methods in sociology. These courses give students a strong foundation in the study of sociology and serve as prerequisites for many sociology-related electives.


In the last year of their undergraduate careers, students typically take 30 credits of electives. Bachelor of Arts programs allow students to take electives in almost any other field such as education, anthropology, history, art, English or one of the sciences. This flexibility allows students to pursue other interests and possibly get a minor in another field. Bachelor of Science programs do not have this flexibility. Instead, they require students to take electives in sociology so that they can be prepared for advanced studies in the field. Many students who pursue Bachelor of Science degrees go on to master's and doctoral programs in the field. Examples of common sociology-related electives are such sociological theory, research methods in sociology, sociology laboratory, gender sociology and sociology of class and race.

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