Academic Programs Catalog

College of Social Science

Department of Sociology

Dean Rehberger, Acting Chairperson

The world is rapidly changing. Global processes are transforming societies, changing cities and forms of economic production, creating new ways to communicate and precipitating new migration patterns, impacting human health and life chances, reshaping the environment, increasing social inequalities, and posing new risks and opportunities. New forms of labor, social movements, family life, health care delivery, military conflicts, and ways to distribute food and services are emerging. These global forces are changing the character of sociology itself.

The MSU Department of Sociology examines these changing social dynamics through domestic and international scholarship. To signify this perspective, the department has adopted the theme of global transformation to indicate what unifies the diverse activities of our faculty and students.

Global transformation implies a commitment to global and cross-national projects and programs. Our research analyzes global social, political, and cultural differences as well as how a global system often shapes social and environmental processes and movements, change, racial and ethnic inequalities, gender relations, social and economic conflict, and innovation.
 


Undergraduate Program

Sociologists study how societies are created, maintained, and challenged. They think about the ways in which individuals and social structures interact. The department’s undergraduate program is designed to give students an understanding of these processes throughout the world and of the major patterns of social behavior and organization in the United States. Courses deal with a range of topics including the basic institutions of society such as the economy and industry, education, family, health care and medicine, politics, sciences, mass media, the arts, and technology. Students examine how change occurs in rural and urban communities, in the environment, and in bureaucracies. They consider how knowledge may be used to bring about change. Courses on international development, sex and gender, racial and ethnic inequality, and changes in the lifecycle focus on the rich cultural and social diversity of individual and group behavior. Courses in social psychology and personality enable students to understand how individual behavior is affected by group life. Courses that focus on fundamental methods and techniques of research are important for understanding how to collect and interpret data on individual and group behavior. Opportunities are also available for participation in faculty research projects where the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom can be applied to real world situations. Some students have used their bachelor’s degrees in sociology as a foundation for graduate and professional study in medicine, law, business, urban planning, social work, labor and industrial relations, and public health, or for advanced graduate study in preparation for careers as college teachers and researchers. Others may pursue positions in business, public service, sales research, teaching, public relations, and administration.

A Minor in Sociology is available as an elective to students who are enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs at Michigan State University other than the Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology.  With the approval of the department and college that administer the student’s degree program, the courses that are used to satisfy the minor may also be used to satisfy the requirements for the bachelor’s degree. A total of 19 credits in the Department of Sociology are required for the minor.  For further information about the minor in Sociology, visit www.soc.msu.edu.

 


Sociology - Bachelor of Science

Requirements for the Bachelor of Science Degree in Sociology

1. The University requirements for bachelor's degrees as described in the Undergraduate Education section of this catalog; 120 credits, including general elective credits, are required for the Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology.
The University's Tier II writing requirement for the Sociology major is met by completing Sociology 488 or 499. Those courses are referenced in item 3. a. below.
The completion of Statistics and Probability 200, 201, 421 or 422, referenced in item 4. below may also satisfy the University mathematics requirement.
2. The requirements of the College of Social Science for the Bachelor of Science degree.
3. The following required major courses (33 credits):
a. All of the following courses:
SOC 100 Introduction to Sociology 4
SOC 214 Social Inequality 3
SOC 281 Methods of Social Research I 4
SOC 282 Methods of Social Research II 4
SOC 488 Sociological Theory (W) 3
SOC 499 Social Issues and Change in Contemporary Society (W) 3
b. One of the following courses that are related to diversity:
SOC 215 Race and Ethnicity 3
SOC 216 Sex and Gender 3
c. A minimum of three additional Sociology courses at the 300 level or higher, at least one of which must be at the 400 level 9
4. Complete 15 additional credits in the natural sciences selected as follows:
a. One of the following courses in computer science:
CSE 101 Computer Concepts and Competencies 3
CSE 131 Technical Computing and Problem Solving 3
CSE 231 Introduction to Programming I 4
b. One of the following courses:
STT 200 Statistical Methods 3
STT 201 Statistical Methods 4
STT 421 Statistics I 3
STT 422 Statistics II 3
c. At least 11 or 12 additional credits in the following departments or programs: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Biological Science, Chemistry, Entomology, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Mathematics, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Physics and Astronomy, Plant Biology, Plant Pathology,  Statistics and Probability, and Integrative Biology. The completion of courses taken in fulfillment of the University Mathematics requirement may not apply towards this requirement. Students should see their academic advisor to obtain a list of approved courses which will meet this requirement.
5. Complete 1 credit of experiential learning which can be satisfied through one of the following courses that is connected to a 300-400 level sociology course:
SOC 496 Individual Readings 1
SOC 497 Individual Research 1
SOC 498 Sociology Internship 1
Enrollment in SOC 496 must be connected to participation in either a study abroad program or study away program.
 


Sociology - Bachelor of Arts

Requirements for the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology

  1. The University requirements for bachelor's degrees as described in the Undergraduate Education section of this catalog; 120 credits, including general elective credits, are required for the Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology.

    The University's Tier II writing requirement for the Sociology major is met by completing Sociology 488 or 499. Those courses are referenced in item 3. a. below.
  2. The requirements of the College of Social Science Bachelor of Arts degree.
  3. The following required major courses (33 credits):
    a. All of the following courses:
    SOC 100 Introduction to Sociology 4
    SOC 214 Social Inequality 3
    SOC 281 Methods of Social Research I 4
    SOC 282 Methods of Social Research II 4
    SOC 488 Sociological Theory (W) 3
    SOC 499 Social Issues and Change in Contemporary Society (W) 3
    b. One of the following courses that are related to diversity:
    SOC 215 Race and Ethnicity 3
    SOC 216 Sex and Gender 3
    c. A minimum of three additional Sociology courses at the 300 level or higher, at least one of which must be at the 400 level
  4. Complete a 1 credit experiential learning experience through one of the following options, approved by the student's academic advisor:
    a. One of the following courses in computer science:
    SOC 496 Individual Readings (Study Abroad) 1
    SOC 496 Individual Readings (Study Away) 1
    SOC 497 Individual Research 1
    SOC 498 Sociology Internship 1

Minor in Sociology

The Minor in Sociology, which is administered by the Department of Sociology, provides a fundamental understanding of the linkages between agency and structure in society. Students obtain knowledge of the principles of sociology, sociological inquiry, diversity in society, and the ways in which global forces are transforming modern society.

The minor is available as an elective to students who are enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs at Michigan State University other than the Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science Degree in Sociology.  With the approval of the department and college that administers the student’s degree program, the courses that are used to satisfy the minor may also be used to satisfy the requirements for the bachelor’s degree. 

Students who plan to complete the requirements for the minor should consult an undergraduate advisor in the Department of Sociology.

Requirements for the Minor in Sociology

Complete a minimum of 19 credits in the Department of Sociology from the following:

               
1. Both of the following courses (7 credits):  
  SOC 100 Introduction to Sociology 4
  SOC 131 Social Problems 3
2. One of the following courses (3 credits):  
  SOC 215 Race and Ethnicity 3
  SOC 216 Sex and Gender 3
3. Complete three elective courses in Sociology at the 300-400 level. At least one course must be at the 400-level. Students may use SOC 281 Methods of Social Research I to fulfill this requirement. The courses must be approved by the student’s academic advisor.  



Teacher Certification Options

A sociology disciplinary minor is available for teacher certification.

Students who elect the sociology disciplinary minor must contact the Department of Sociology.

For additional information, refer to the statement on TEACHER CERTIFICATION in the Department of Teacher Education section of this catalog.



Graduate Study

The MSU graduate sociology program seeks to develop professionals who will be creative researchers, teachers, and practitioners in knowledge production. The department has five areas of concentration and a number of specialties:
  1. Community and Urban.  Areas of study include community development, decline and environmental justice; community health; creative communities and fostering creativity; urban and regional economic and transportation networks; expressive cultural behaviors of U.S. African American communities; international development and community change; international urban transformations; social stratification and  race in communities; gangs, violence, criminal justice in urban communities; urban food systems and food security.
  2. Environment. Areas of study include food and energy production; land use; our interactions with other species; climate change, pollution, and changes in ecosystem structure and function; and human environment intersections.
  3. Family. Areas of study include  cultural production and maintenance among minority families; domestic violence; family formation and dissolution; gender; health and aging; impact of social change on the family structure, dynamics, and effectiveness; intergenerational transfer; intersectionality and social inequality; LGBT families; marriage and cohabitation; divorce and widowhood; migration and family; religion and family; work-family conflict.
  4. Health and Medicine. Areas of study include the social context of health, illness, and health care, with a central focus on health disparities by race/ethnicity, social class, gender, and marital status;  political, economic, and environmental circumstances that threaten health; and societal forces that impact the health care system.
  5. Migration. Areas of study include  the African diaspora; the demography of migration;  development and migration; the environment and migration; gender and migration; health and migration; migrant ethnic entrepreneurship, communities, and conflict; migrant integration; migration, race, and refugees; migration research methods.
Students who are enrolled in Master of Science degree programs in the Department of Sociology may elect a Specialization in Food Safety. For additional information, refer to the statement on the specialization in the College of Veterinary Medicine section of this catalog.

Students who are enrolled in Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degree programs in the Department of Sociology may elect specializations in Infancy and Early Childhood. For additional information, refer to the statement on
Interdepartmental Graduate Specializations in Infancy and Early Childhood.

For further information about graduate study in sociology, consult the department's Graduate Manual or visit www.sociology.msu.edu.

Sociology - Master of Arts

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and of the College of Social Science, students must meet the requirements specified below.

Requirements for the Master of Arts Degree in Sociology 

The program is available only under Plan A (with thesis).  The student must meet the requirements specified below:

               
1. Complete 30 credits including:  
  a. All of the following courses (12 credits):  
    SOC 801 Global Transformations 3
    SOC 815 Classical Sociological Theory 3
    SOC 881 Analysis of Social Data I 3
    SOC 885 Methods of Sociological Inquiry 3
  b. One of the following courses (3 credits):  
    SOC 954 Techniques of Population Analysis 3
    SOC 985 Qualitative Field Research 3
    SOC 986 Survey Research Principles 3
    SOC 989 Topics in Sociological Methodology 3
  c. At least three courses in one of the department's major research theme areas of concentration.  
  d. Complete 4 to 8 credits of Sociology 899 Master's Thesis Research.  
2. Present the thesis at a colloquium of the faculty who are associated with the student's major research theme area of concentration.  The presentation must be acceptable to the faculty and be suitable for presentation at a professional meeting or publication in a professional journal.  
3. Participate in the teaching assistant workshop offered by the department.  
4. Participate in the Sociology Graduate Seminar for First–Year Students.  

Sociology - Doctor of Philosophy

The doctoral degree program in sociology is designed to give the student a general background in sociological theory and methodology, as well as training in a major substantive area of the discipline.

While there is no language requirement, where acquaintance with a foreign language is necessary for advancing the special interest of the student, the student, in consultation with the guidance committee, may decide upon the study of a foreign language appropriate to their research and career development.

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and of the College of Social Science, students must meet the requirements specified below.

Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Sociology

In addition to completing the requirements for the Master of Arts Degree in Sociology noted above, the student must meet the requirements specified below:

               
1. Complete both of the following courses (6 credits):  
  SOC 816 Contemporary Sociological Theory 3
  SOC 995 Professional Training Seminar 3
2. Complete one of the following, either a. or b. (3 credits):  
  a. SOC 882 Analysis of Social Data II 3
  b. One of the following courses (3 credits):  
    SOC 954 Techniques of Population Analysis 3
    SOC 985 Qualitative Field Research 3
    SOC 986 Survey Research Principles 3
    SOC 989 Topics in Sociological Methodology 3
    Students must select one of the courses that was not used to fulfill the requirements for the Master of Arts Degree in Sociology.  
3. Two additional courses selected from the department's major research theme areas of concentration that were not used to satisfy the requirements for the Master of Arts Degree in Sociology. The courses must be approved by the student's guidance committee.  
4. Complete 24 credits of Sociology 999 Doctoral Dissertation Research.  
5. Successful completion of the comprehensive examination.  
6. Successful defense of the dissertation.  

Graduate Specialization in Animal Studies: Social Science and Humanities Perspective

The Graduate Specialization in Animal Studies: Social Science and Humanities Perspective, which is administered by the Department of Sociology, provides graduate students with basic knowledge in relationships between humans and animals and how they are linked together in a fragile biosphere.

The graduate specialization is available as an elective for students who are enrolled in master’s or doctoral degree programs at Michigan State University.  With the approval of the department and college that administers the student’s degree program, the courses that are used to satisfy the specialization may also be used to satisfy the requirements for the master’s or doctoral degree.

Students who plan to complete the requirements for the graduate specialization should consult the graduate advisor for the specialization in the Department of Sociology.

Requirements for the Graduate Specialization in Animal Studies: Social Science and Humanities Perspective

Complete a total of 12 credits from the following:

  1. Both of the following courses (6 credits):
    SOC    989       Topics in Sociological Methodology  (3)
    SOC    840       Animals and Social Transformations  (3)
  2. One of the following courses (3 credits):
    ACR    823        Contemporary Issues in Animal-Human Relationships  (3)
    ANS    805         Animal Welfare Assessment  (3)
    LAW    565A      Animal Law  (3) 
  3. Complete 3 credits of additional course work that focuses on any aspect of the human-animal relationship that meets the interests of the student. A list of available courses can be found on the specialization Web site. The course must be approved by the student's academic advisor for the specialization.