The undergraduate degree in sociology emphasizes knowledge and awareness of:

  • the basic data, concepts, theories, and modes of explanation appropriate to the understanding of human societies;
  • the structure of modern American society, its social stratification, its ethnic, racial, religious, and gender differentiation, and its main social institutions—family, polity, economy, and religion;
  • the basic social processes that maintain and alter social structure, especially the processes of integration, organization, and conflict; and 
  • the diversity of human societies, including the differences between major historical types such as foraging, agricultural, industrial, and post-industrial societies.

In addition, students completing the degree in sociology are expected to acquire the ability to:

  • locate and consult works relevant to a sociological investigation and write a sociological paper that is coherent, cogent, and grammatically correct;
  • understand the basic procedures of sociological research and analyze sociological data;
  • understand and interpret the results of sociological research; and
  • integrate and evaluate sociological writings.

Course code for this program is SOCY.

Bachelor's Degree Program(s)

Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology

Students must complete the general requirements of the College of Arts and Sciences and the required courses listed below. A minimum of 36 credit hours (but not more than 45) in sociology is required for the degree. Of the 36 semester hours, 21 must be upper division with a minimum of 15 upper-division credit hours of course work in the major taken on the Boulder campus. All required major courses must be completed with a grade of C- or better. The cumulative GPA required in sociology courses is 2.00.

Required Courses and Semester Credit Hours

  • SOCY 1001 Introduction to Sociology—3
  • SOCY 2061 Introduction to Social Statistics or SOCY 4061 Social Statistics. A non-SOCY statistics course (C- grade or higher) can be used to substitute for SOCY 2061 or 4061 if one additional SOCY course is taken.—3
  • SOCY 3001 Classical Theory—3
  • SOCY 3301 Survey -Methods or SOCY 3401 Field Methods—3
  • Electives—24

Graduating in Four Years

Consult the Four-Year Guarantee Requirements for information on eligibility. The concept of “adequate progress” as it is used here only refers to maintaining eligibility for the four-year guarantee; it is not a requirement for the major. To maintain adequate progress in sociology, students should meet the following requirements:

  • Declare the major by the beginning of the second semester.
  • Complete SOCY 1001 and 3001 and 6 credit hours of sociology electives by the end of the fourth semester.
  • Complete SOCY 2061 or 4061 and either 3301 or 3401 and 15 credit hours, with a minimum of 9 upper-division credit hours of sociology electives, by the end of the sixth semester.
  • Complete 36 credit hours (but not more than 45), in sociology with at least 21 credit hours in upper-division courses by the end of the eighth semester.

Graduate Degree Program(s)

Graduate Study in Sociology

Students wishing to pursue graduate work in sociology leading to candidacy for an -advanced degree should carefully read the requirements for advanced degrees in the Graduate School section.

In addition, to be admitted to the graduate degree programs of the department, students must have satisfactory scores (as determined by the department) on the Graduate Record Examination, including both the verbal and quantitative sections.

The deadline for applications is December 1 for the academic year.

Master’s Degree

The Department of Sociology does not have a master’s degree program. However, students may obtain the MA degree in transit to  the PhD if they wish, and students unable to complete PhD requirements may pursue a terminal MA degree, pending approval by the Graduate Committee. The department does not allow extra time for the completion of the MA degree.

All MA students are required to complete a minimum of 30 semester hours of graduate credit. These 30 hours must include at least 6 credit hours in at least two seminars in the student’s major fields. Students may take a maximum of 6 hours of independent study. These may not be substituted for required seminars. In addition, all students must take courses from at least four different members of the faculty. Finally, all MA students must designate a Master’s Advisory Committee. This committee must yconsist of at least three regularly appointed graduate faculty members from the Department of Sociology.

Plan 1—Thesis Option

For the MA degree, a student must complete 24 hours of course work at the 5000 level or above, including the required Theory and Methods sequence, and at least 4 and a minimum of 6 hours of thesis credits. Students must register for thesis credit hours in the semester of thesis defense.

Plan II—Non-Thesis

For the MA degree, a student must complete 30 hours of course work at the 5000 level or above, including the required Theory and Methods sequence, and take a written exam in their major area within sociology. The Advisory Committee, here constituted as an examining committee, creates an exam that will assess the candidate’s competence in the relevant areas of sociological knowledge.

Doctoral Degree

The main requirements for the doctoral degree are:

  • A minimum of 45 credit hours at or above the 5000 level. At least 24 of these 45 hours must be taken in the sociology department at CU-Boulder.
  • The following required courses must be included in the 45 hour minimum: 6 hours of sociological theory (including SOCY 5201); 9 hours of research methods and statistics (SOCY 5031, 5111, and 6111); two 1.5-hour graduate forums (SOCY 6821); and one 1-hour proseminar (SOCY 6831).
  • A student must have passed all first-year work with a 3.50 GPA and no grade lower than a B to continue into the second year.
  • Successful completion of exams in sociological theory and methods by the end of the first year.
  • Successful first-year and second-year reviews.
  • A student must pass the comprehensive examination, having become eligible to take this examination only after having satisfied requirements 1, 2, and 3 above.
  • A student must write a PhD dissertation and defend this dissertation in an oral examination.

A detailed description of the PhD program is given in the Graduate Handbook available on the department website at