The Bachelor of Science in Sociology requires a minimum of 120 credits, with at least 33 of those credits in sociology and other approved courses. The baccalaureate curriculum in sociology seeks to ensure that each student develops a solid foundation in the basic principles, theories and techniques of analysis in sociology. It also encourages students to pursue an interdisciplinary approach by incorporating course credit from closely related subject areas in other programs. Since students majoring in sociology vary in their interests and career goals, the curriculum allows for a great deal of flexibility in developing individual courses of study. Students who are interested in pursuing graduate studies in sociology usually will take more than the minimum number of upper-level courses. The program provides opportunities for involvement in faculty research through its course offerings, which include independent study, internships and honors research.

Learning outcomes

Upon completing this program, students will know and know how to do the following:

  • Understand sociological theory
    Students will demonstrate an ability to apply different theoretical perspectives to social issues as well as compare and contrast basic theoretical orientations.
  • Understand sociological concepts
    Students will demonstrate knowledge of basic concepts in sociology, such that students will be able to define, give examples and demonstrate the relevance of culture, social structure, institutions, socialization, stratification, social change and differentiations by race/ethnicity, gender, sexuality, age and class.
  • Understand sociological research and analysis
    Students will demonstrate knowledge of basic methodological approaches (both quantitative and qualitative) in sociology and the general role of methodology in building sociological knowledge. Students will know how to retrieve data sets from the Internet, read and produce descriptive statistics, and work with data analysis software, such as SPSS.
 

Degree requirements for Sociology, Bachelor of Science (B.S.)

General education requirements

Course Title Hours
University Core Education Curriculum (minimum 21 credits)
UNIV 111 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry IFocused Inquiry I3
UNIV 112 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry IIFocused Inquiry II3
UNIV 200Inquiry and the Craft of Argument3
Approved humanities/fine arts3
Approved natural/physical sciences3-4
Approved quantitative literacy3-4
Approved social/behavioral sciences3-4
Total Hours21-24
Course Title Hours
Additional College of Humanities and Sciences requirements (11-23 credits)
HUMS 202Choices in a Consumer Society1
Approved H&S diverse and global communities3
Approved H&S human, social and political behavior (fulfills University Core social/behavioral sciences)
Approved H&S literature and civilization (fulfills University Core humanities/fine arts)
Approved H&S science and technology (fulfills University Core natural/physical sciences)
Approved H&S general education electives6-8
Experiential fine arts 11-3
Foreign language through the 102 level (by course or placement)0-8
Total Hours11-23
1

Course offered by the School of the Arts

Collateral requirements

Course Title Hours
STAT 210Basic Practice of Statistics 23

Major core requirements

Course Title Hours
SOCY 101 Play VideoPlay course video for Introduction to SociologyIntroduction to Sociology3
SOCY 202Foundations of Theory 23
SOCY 320Research Methods in Political Science 23
SOCY 402Contemporary Theory 23
SOCY 406Sociology Senior Seminar 23
Total Hours15
2

A minimum grade of C is required in this course. 

Sociology electives

Course Title Hours
300- to 400-level SOCY courses 318
Total Hours18
3

Students have an option of completing three elective credits chosen from any 300- or 400-level SOCS course.

Open electives

Course Title Hours
Select 38-52 open elective credits38-52

Total minimum requirement 120 credits

What follows is a sample plan that meets the prescribed requirements within a four-year course of study at VCU. Please contact your adviser before beginning course work toward a degree.

Freshman year
Fall semesterHours
MATH 131 Introduction to Contemporary Mathematics (satisfies approved quantitative literacy; if placed out of MATH 131, choose any approved H&S elective) 3
UNIV 101 Introduction to the University 1
UNIV 111 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry I Focused Inquiry I 3
Approved H&S diverse and global communities 3
Approved H&S general education elective 3
 Term Hours: 13
Spring semester
HUMS 202 Choices in a Consumer Society 1
SOCY 101 Play VideoPlay course video for Introduction to Sociology Introduction to Sociology 3
STAT 210 Basic Practice of Statistics (if placed out or have already taken STAT 210, choose any approved H&S elective) 3
UNIV 112 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry II Focused Inquiry II 3
Approved H&S general education elective 3
Open elective 3
 Term Hours: 16
Sophomore year
Fall semester
SOCY 202 Foundations of Theory 3
UNIV 200 Inquiry and the Craft of Argument 3
Approved H&S literature and civilization course 3
Foreign language (101-level) 4
Open elective 3
 Term Hours: 16
Spring semester
SOCY 320 Research Methods in Political Science 3
300-level SOCY elective 3
Approved H&S experiential fine arts 1-3
Approved H&S science and technology 3-4
Foreign language (102 level) 4
 Term Hours: 14-17
Junior year
Fall semester
300-level SOCY elective 3
300- to 400-level SOCY electives (except SOCY 402 or SOCY 406) 6
Open electives (upper-level preferred, may take additional SOCY electives) 7
 Term Hours: 16
Spring semester
300- to 400-level SOCY electives or approved SOCY or SOCS electives 6
Open electives (upper-level preferred, may take additional SOCY electives) 9
 Term Hours: 15
Senior year
Fall semester
SOCY 402 Contemporary Theory 3
Open electives (upper-level preferred, may take additional SOCY electives) 12
 Term Hours: 15
Spring semester
SOCY 406 Sociology Senior Seminar 3
Open electives (upper-level preferred, may take additional SOCY electives) 12
 Term Hours: 15
 Total Hours: 120-123

Total minimum requirement 120 credits

SOCY 101. Introduction to Sociology. 3 Hours.Play VideoPlay course video for Introduction to Sociology

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. An introduction to the study of human society. The basic concepts of society and culture and their relationships to each other are studied and then used to analyze the major social institutions.

SOCY 104. Sociology of Racism. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. The course will explore the direct and indirect ways in which racial attitudes are acquired, their effect on individuals and society, and the institutional and ideological manifestations of racism as a "faith system," as exploitation and as a form of human conflict. The central focus of interest will be on black-white relationships. Crosslisted as: AFAM 104.

SOCY 202. Foundations of Theory. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SOCY 101. An introduction to classical theoretical traditions that have guided sociological work. Classical theorists whose writings have shaped the discipline will be studied, including Karl Marx, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, Georg Simmel, W.E.B. Du Bois and Charlotte Perkins Gilman. This course also traces the historical development of the discipline of sociology during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

SOCY 302. Contemporary Social Problems. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SOCY 101. The examination from a sociological perspective of contemporary social problems such as population growth, crime, racism, family problems, substance abuse and aging in terms of their impact on American social institutions and values.

SOCY 303. Sociology of Deviance. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SOCY 101. An analysis of the relationship between social structure, social control and patterns of social deviance; a survey and critique of present social theories in light of empirical research and application of the theories to selected problem areas.

SOCY 304. Sociology of Families. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SOCY 101 or ANTH 103/INTL 103. The family in its social and cultural context. Analysis of child rearing, marriage, kinship, family crises and family change in various societies around the world. Crosslisted as: ANTH 304/GSWS 304.

SOCY 305. African American Family in Social Context. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SOCY 101. A socio-historical examination of the development of the family system of Americans from Africa. Focuses on large-scale (macro level) processes such as changes in the major mode of economic production and in political systems and the corresponding changes in black family structure and functioning. Presents the theoretical material on African-American families and social change that prepares students for further study of the family as a social institution and for the study of family policy. This course is designed to meet the needs of upper-division social science majors. Crosslisted as: AFAM 305/GSWS 305.

SOCY 307. Sociology of Food. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SOCY 101. Examines the role food plays in shaping cultures, societies and social inequalities by examining the modern food system, social inequalities surrounding food access and alternatives to the current system.

SOCY 310. Social Movements and Social Conflict. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SOCY 101. Theory and practice of social movements, community organizing and other forms of collective behavior.

SOCY 315. Sociology of Education. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SOCY 101. Analysis of education as a social institution in the societal context. Cross-cultural comparative perspectives on education.

SOCY 320. Research Methods in the Social Sciences. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 2 laboratory hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: SOCY 101; and STAT 210 with a minimum grade of C. Current methods of research in the social sciences. Includes a brief introduction to the use of SPSS for storage, retrieval and exploration of social science data.

SOCY 321. Sociology of Economic Inequalities. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SOCY 101. Analysis of social mobility, class, status and power.

SOCY 322. Sociology of Race and Ethnicity. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SOCY 101. A study of the various racial, religious and ethnic minority groups. Issues of power, pluralism and assimilation are addressed as well as the relationship between subcultures and the dominant culture.

SOCY 325. Analysis of Sociological Data. 2 Hours.

Semester course; 1 lecture and 2 laboratory hours. 2 credits. Prerequisites: POLI/SOCY 320 and STAT 210. Statistical techniques used in the analysis of data from sample surveys and censuses, including tabular, graphical and inferential procedures. SPSS software will be used in the laboratory.

SOCY 326. Rural Sociology. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SOCY 101. An introduction to rural society, culture, social interactions and systemic change. The rural regions of the United States will be covered, but emphasis will be given to Appalachia, rural Virginia and the South.

SOCY 327. Urban Sociology. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SOCY 101. Origin, character and significance of urban communities. Ecological and social factors are analyzed as well as changes in urban social organization and their consequences.

SOCY 330. Global Societies: Trends and Issues. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: INTL/POLI 105 or POLI 201 or SOCY 101. An analysis of factors that are promoting the globalization of social, economic and political relations, and an inquiry into implications of these developments for individuals, localities, nations and the world community. The course will highlight the impact of culture and ethnicity, historical and emerging patterns of international business activity and their societal significance, divergent strategies for economic and social development in the world's regions, and the effects of population growth and environmental problems on public life within and among nations. Crosslisted as: INTL 330.

SOCY 331. Juvenile Delinquency. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SOCY 101. Analysis of the biological, cultural, psychological and social factors involved in juvenile delinquency and their relation to current techniques of treatment, prevention and control.

SOCY 333. Gender in Society. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SOCY 101 or permission of instructor. Explores different theoretical approaches to gender and its intersections with other sources of inequality, including sexuality, race, class and age. Possible topics include masculinities, gender and the body, and how gender operates in various institutional settings, such as the economy and the family. Crosslisted as: GSWS 333.

SOCY 334. Sociology of Women. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SOCY 101 or consent of instructor. This course will examine the position and status of women across societies and the social forces that maintain existing patterns and arrangements. The integration of family and work in women's lives will be emphasized. Crosslisted as: GSWS 334.

SOCY 336. Violence Against Women. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SOCY 101 or GSWS 201. An examination of violence against women from a global and local perspective with a primary focus on violence perpetrated against women in the U.S. Requires a minimum of 20 hours of community service. Crosslisted as: GSWS 336.

SOCY 340. Self and Society. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SOCY 101. Focused discussion of the regularities in human behavior that arise due to man's participation in social groups. Emphasis will be placed on such topics as communications, attitudes, language, interpersonal perception, personal identities and social interaction.

SOCY 341. Group Dynamics. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: PSYC 101. Social and psychological principles and research related to the individual in groups. Specific topics include motivation for individuals forming and joining groups, performance and productivity of group members, group leadership and majority and minority influence. The group will be examined in relation to the larger society and as a subculture in itself. Crosslisted as: PSYC 341.

SOCY 350. Environmental Sociology. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SOCY 101. An overview of the field of environmental sociology, with a specific focus on the ways in which climate change affects, and is affected by, modern society. Possible topics include environmental racism, indigenous rights and activism, cultures of waste and disposability, capitalism and ecological transformation, corporate greenwashing, global food-systems, and climate refugees.

SOCY 360. Sociology of Religion. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SOCY 101. A systematic review and assessment of major sociological theories of and empirical research on religious behavior and groups. Topics include the structure of religious organizations; social correlates and functions of religion; denominationalism; religion and social class, social change and population. Crosslisted as: RELS 360.

SOCY 370. Media and Society. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SOCY 101, MASC 101 or POLI 103. A survey of the organization and social impact of the major types of mass media. Potential topics include the media as socializing agents; the effect of media messages on cultural patterns and social values; the impact of technology on social behavior; the role of "audiences" in interpreting media content; political and economic influences on the media industry; and the media as an instrument of social change. The structure and functions of the media in different societies will be compared.

SOCY 391. Topics in Sociology. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SOCY 101. Maximum 6 credits per semester; maximum total of 18 credits in all departmental topics courses that may be applied to the major. Check with department for specific prerequisites. A discussion of specialized areas of sociological interest. See the Schedule of Classes for specific topics to be offered each semester.

SOCY 401. African-Americans and the U.S. Health Care System. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: AFAM 103, AFAM/SOCY/WMNS/GSWS 305 or permission of the instructor. Explores issues surrounding the disparity in health status and health outcomes between African-Americans and other groups in the United States. Students are required to participate in an experiential exercise designed to enhance learning. Crosslisted as: AFAM 401.

SOCY 402. Contemporary Theory. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SOCY 202 with a minimum grade of C; pre- or corequisite: SOCY 320. Restricted to sociology majors. A study of the works of the major sociological theorists of the 20th century.

SOCY 403. Criminology. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SOCY 202 or permission of instructor. Analysis of the nature, extent and distribution of crime, emphasizing theories of and research on causation, prediction and prevention.

SOCY 406. Sociology Senior Seminar. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: SOCY 202 and SOCY 320, both with a minimum grade of C; and at least 21 credit hours in sociology. Course must be taken in the student's last 30 hours at VCU. Pre- or corequisite: SOCY 402. Senior capstone class; provides students the opportunity to synthesize, integrate and apply their sociological knowledge and skills.

SOCY 410. Aging and the Life Course. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SOCY 202 or permission of instructor. An introduction to the study of aging and the life course. Focus will be on research specific to older adulthood in order to foster an understanding of aging and old age as a characteristic of both individuals and societies. Requires a minimum of 20 hours of community service if taken as a service-learning course.

SOCY 421. Advanced Research Methods. 1-6 Hours.

Semester course; variable hours. Variable credit. May be repeated for a total of 6 credits. Prerequisites: POLI 320/SOCY 320 and SOCY 325. A laboratory course providing training in the application of social research methods under laboratory and field situations to problems of mutual interest to community policy makers and professionals in the disciplines of sociology, social psychology and anthropology. This course is designed to enhance the skills of students in applied social research. With direct supervision by the instructor, individuals or small groups of students will address themselves to the tasks of defining, designing and executing research projects.

SOCY 426. Population Dynamics. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SOCY 202 or permission of instructor. The study of trends in fertility, mortality, population growth, distribution, migration and composition. The mutual influences of these factors and social organization.

SOCY 430. Politics, Power and Ideology. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SOCY 202 or permission of instructor. Sociological analysis of political organization and behavior. Such subjects as distribution and uses of power, creation and management of group conflict, development and diffusion of political ideologies, and problems of bureaucracy and mass society will be considered.

SOCY 434. Sociology of Sport. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SOCY 202. Sport will be viewed as a major social institution within many societies. The class will study the relationship between sport and society -- both in terms of sport reflecting the ideology and culture of society and sport as an active agent of change in society. Race, gender and social class will be examined within the context of sport.

SOCY 435. Sociology of Consumption. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SOCY 202. Examination and analysis of consumption in modern society, including food, fashion, advertising and opportunities for consumer activism in a globalized world.

SOCY 436. Sociology of Work and Labor Markets. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SOCY 202 or permission of instructor. The study of industrial plants and business organizations as social systems.

SOCY 440. Advanced Social Psychology. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 credits. Prerequisites: SOCY 202 and SOCY 340 or permission of instructor. The study of how human groups create the environment that, in turn, influences their individual behavior. The symbolic interactionist perspective will be thoroughly explored for its contribution to the study of persons, objects and meaning.

SOCY 445. Medical Sociology. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SOCY 202. A survey of the social, economic, cultural and social psychological factors in health and illness; the sociology of health and medical care organizations and settings; the sociology of health occupations; and the techniques of research in medical sociology.

SOCY 446. Sociology of Mental Disorder. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SOCY 202. A survey of selected social, economic, cultural and social psychological factors in mental health and illness. Such problems as defining mental illness; social factors in the distribution, diagnosis, etiology and treatment of mental disorders; mental illness as a social role; and research methods used in the sociology of mental illness will be considered.

SOCY 450. Understanding Capitalism. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SOCY 202. A critical appraisal of modern capitalist society. Classical and contemporary sociological theory, focusing on comparative-historical methodologies, including historical materialism and critical political economy.

SOCY 476. Economic Sociology. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SOCY 202. An examination of labor force participation in terms of the individual worker's experience, the work setting, the nature of occupations and labor force composition.

SOCY 491. Topics in Sociology. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SOCY 202. Maximum 6 credits per semester; maximum total of 18 credits in all departmental topics courses that may be applied to the major. Check with department for specific prerequisites. A discussion of specialized areas of sociological interest. See the Schedule of Classes for specific topics to be offered each semester.

SOCY 492. Independent Study. 1-6 Hours.

Semester course; variable hours. Variable credit. Maximum of 6 credits per semester; maximum total of 12 credits for all independent study courses. Open generally only to students of junior or senior standing who have acquired at least 12 credits in the departmental discipline. Determination of the amount of credit and permission of the instructor and department chair must be received prior to registration of the course. Cannot be used in place of existing courses.

SOCY 493. Field Research Internship. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 6 field experience hours. 3 credits. May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credits. Enrollment is restricted to sociology majors of junior or senior standing. Applications must be approved by a faculty adviser and the internship coordinator. Students are placed in organizations that offer supervised work or research experience appropriate to their interests. Each student must work 150 clock hours in the organization and write a sociological analysis of experiences using appropriate fieldwork methodological techniques. Graded as pass/fail.

SOCY 498. Honors Research Course. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 credits. Prerequisites: student must be in the honors program of the department and have achieved senior status. This course will entail the planning and execution of a major research project demonstrating a thorough understanding and use of research techniques in sociological/anthropological analysis, knowledge of relevant literature, sophisticated writing and research ability under the direction of a faculty mentor.