University of Minnesota
Department of Sociology

Department of Sociology's home page.

Sociology Undergraduate Handbook

University Of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus

Department of Sociology

Undergraduate Student Handbook

The University of Minnesota is committed to the policy that all persons shall have equal access to its programs, facilities, and employment without regard to race, religion, creed, color, sex, national origin, handicap, age, veteran status, or sexual orientation.

Every effort has been made to be accurate in the information presented here. For specifics about College of Liberal Arts and University of Minnesota policy, please refer to the Undergraduate Catalog.


  1. Welcome to the Department of Sociology!
  2. Who Are Sociologists?
  3. University of Minnesota Department of Sociology
  4. Academics & Program Options
  5. Core Classes Course Descriptions
  6. Major Project Seminar
  7. Academic Policies & Expectations
  8. Opportunities & Resources
  9. Directory of Useful Resources

Welcome To the Department of Sociology!

Welcome to the Department of Sociology at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities! You are joining over 600 other people also majoring in sociology along with about 200 minors. You are now part of a widely diverse university community.

As diverse as the interests of sociology students are, one common thread is their robust interest in learning more about groups and collectives. Whether they are curious about how groups evolve, wonder about how individuals affect groups, or want to identify how individuals affect one another, the focus of their inquiry is always on human interaction.

As you read through this handbook, we hope you will begin to identify with sociology as your discipline, understand what you must do to complete a degree in sociology at this university and learn about some of the careers available to sociology majors after graduation. We, the sociology undergraduate advisor, faculty and staff always welcome your questions. We will do our very best to help you be successful. We urge you to get to know your sociology department so you can feel a part of it and make full use of its resources.

Again, welcome to the Department of Sociology at the University of Minnesota. We are so glad you're finally here!

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Who Are Sociologists?

Who are Sociologists?

Sociologists acknowledge the uniqueness of every individual human being, and also recognize that people's individual thoughts and behaviors are shaped and guided by their societies. Sociologists scientifically study people in groups. We want to understand not just what makes people tick, but why and how they organize into families, clans, clubs, religious & political organizations, neighborhoods, communities and societies. We observe how groups behave and we strive to explain how these groups originate, grow and influence each other. We are intrigued and excited about identifying consequences of group structures, like norms, on individual behaviors.

During the 20th Century, scientific techniques and methods have been developed by sociologists, and other social scientists, trying to explain significant social phenomenon. Sociological research has produced many theories, insights, and tools to help us understand human social behavior. Some sociologists focus on criminology; others are attracted to studies of families and close relationships, education, population/demography, urban sociology, social movements and social change, diverse racial and ethnic relations, social psychology, mental health, popular culture, work, and other areas.

Why do you want to study Sociology? What motivates you?

What Do They Do?

Many professional (PhD) sociologists teach in colleges and universities. A growing number of students who earn Bachelor's and Master's degrees, however, pursue careers in applied sociology. Job opportunities after graduation vary according to your personal and career interests, academic background, and work history. Some sociologists have found careers as:

  • Social Service Administrators City/Regional Government Planners
  • Corrections, Probation-Parole Officers Private Security Personnel
  • Travel/Hotel/Restaurant Representatives Research Analysts
  • Program Evaluators/Financial Planners/Advisors
  • Stock Brokers/Sales Representatives
  • Marketing Researchers/Management Trainees Employment Counselors
  • Personnel/Human Relations Specialists

Career Options in Sociology

Students with undergraduate sociology training are also prepared for advanced study in the social sciences, health fields (nursing, medicine, public health, etc.), education, law, and business. Because Sociology is the study of how humans behave together, both within and between groups, there is virtually no job to which this knowledge does not pertain! Some fields of interest may include:

  • Business Administrators/Clergy
  • Doctors/Nurses/Dentists/Chiropractors/Counselors
  • Law Enforcement Officers/Investigators/Lawyers
  • Public Affairs Workers/Urban Planners/Social Workers
  • Public Health Educators/Teachers

We encourage you to visit CLA Career Services in 411 STSS to receive individualized personal, academic and career counseling.

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University of Minnesota Department of Sociology

The Department of Sociology Today

In 2012, the Department of Sociology at the University of Minnesota has 30 faculty who represent many of the substantive (specialty) areas that were developed in the department's early history. Our faculty is especially strong in the areas of criminology and deviance, sociology of the life course, historical/comparative/political sociology, methodology, and social organization.

The department is associated with several centers in which faculty actively conduct research (The Life Course Center, The Minnesota Population Center, The Minnesota Center for Social Research, The Center for Urban and Regional Affairs). Members of the faculty have close ties with the Departments of:

  • Afro-American & African Studies
  • American Studies Foundations of Education
  • Child Psychology
  • East Asian Studies
  • History
  • Journalism
  • Psychology
  • Scandinavian Studies
  • Speech-Communication Public Affairs
  • Public Health
  • Hospital and Health Care Administration
  • Family Social Science
  • Carlson School of Management Business

Many of our 100 active graduate students serve as research assistants and teaching assistants, primarily in large introductory and sophomore/junior level courses. Each graduate student instructor has completed the required course work and is in the process of writing the dissertation (thesis) for the PhD degree.

Faculty & Their Areas of Interest

The Department of Sociology faculty members represent a broad spectrum of the discipline with their diverse interests. To find out more about their individual interests and research, visit

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Academics & Program Options

What Sociology courses would you take?

If there were no limit to the number of Sociology courses you could take, which courses do you think might interest you? What do your selections tell you about your topical interests in Sociology?

Sociology Degree Options

There are several options for a major in Sociology within your degree. You may choose to complete a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree.

  • Bachelor of Arts Degree

The Bachelor of Arts degree emphasizes the skills of social inquiry necessary for analyzing patterns of social relationships. The College of Liberal Arts requires BA candidates to complete four semesters of foreign language studies. Most of our majors choose this option because the language curriculum complements their interests in cross-cultural studies, contributes to the development of a global world view and facilitates study abroad experiences.

  • Bachelor of Science Degree

The Bachelor of Science degree is designed for students interested in a more rigorous concentration in the applied areas of statistics, mathematics, educational psychology and philosophy of science (rather than a second language). Students with high aptitude for research and statistics, and/or a career interest in marketing or research, are typically most interested in this option. The BS can be an extremely difficult program for individuals who are not strong mathematical thinkers.

The spportive field area consists of 12-16 upper division credits, for a total of four courses, focusing on research, quantitative analysis and other kinds of analysis (e.g., program evaluation, legal analysis, policy analysis). These courses must be pre-approved by our faculty and completed with a grade of C- or better. A good way to tell whether the BS is for you is to count the number of courses that intrigue you from the list of approved supportive field courses. If you're not absolutely thrilled with this list, you'll be a lot happier doing a BA.

The Department of Sociology informally screens students who wish to complete the Bachelor of Science to be sure they have the aptitude and interest to be successful in the highly rigorous supportive field courses. We recommend potential BS students complete one year of calculus, a prerequisite for many supportive field courses, before declaring the BS in sociology. You may be officially designated as a BA student while approval of the proposed supportive field courses is pending.

To be considered for the B.S. option, you must submit a written proposal to the undergraduate advisor in the Department of Sociology. We recommend that you receive approval for your BS program before completion of the supportive field courses. Please include with your proposal:

  • A statement explaining why you are interested in the BS degree rather than the BA; and why you are choosing sociology as a major
  • A list of the proposed supportive field courses and a statement of rationale for each course. It is very helpful to include an articulation of the cohesiveness to the supportive field courses.

Submit the signed proposal (with a current APAS report) to the undergraduate advisor for approval. The advisor will then seek faculty approval of your proposal.

  • Track Options & Major Requirements

With either the BA or the BS, you may choose to complete a General Sociology major or a Law/Criminology/Deviance (LCD) Sociology major. Both options provide a basic knowledge of research methods, sociological principles, and social theory. The major requirements are as follows:

A. Required Preparatory Course:

  • SOC 1001: Introduction to Sociology (4 cr) or SOC 1011V: Honors Introduction to Sociology (4 cr)

B. Three Core Classes:

  • SOC 3701: Social Theory (4 cr)  [prerequisite: SOC 1001]
  • SOC 3801: Sociological Research Methods (4 cr)
  • SOC 3811: Basic Social Statistics (4 cr) [prerequisite: 2 yrs high school algebra]

C. Additional Coursework (specific requirements vary by option):

General Sociology Option:

  • SOC 3xxx or 4xxx  elective (3 cr)
  • SOC 3xxx or 4xxx  elective (3 cr)
  • SOC 3xxx or 4xxx  elective (3 cr)           
  • SOC 3xxx or 4xxx  elective (3 cr)
  • SOC 4xxx elective (3 cr)

General sociology students may select their upper division sociology electives from any 3xxx and 4xxx level courses offered through the Department of Sociology, including the LCD courses. At least one course must be at the 4xxx level.

Many general sociology majors choose electives within a specific subfield of sociology. We offer a variety of courses in many substantive areas (in addition to law, criminology & deviance), so you can cluster your courses toward your interests and career objectives. We suggest the following concentrations: 1) Organizations, markets, and global perspectives, 2) American society, inequality, and social issues, and 3) family and the life course. You can find out more about these here:

Law/Criminology/Deviance Option:

  • SOC 3101 or 3102 (3 cr)
  • LCD elective (SOC 41xx; 3 cr)
  • LCD elective (SOC 41xx; 3 cr)
  • Non-LCD Sociology elective (3 cr)
  • Non-LCD or LCD elective (3 cr)

Law, criminology & deviance students must take either Introduction to American Criminal Justice Systems (Soc 3101) OR Introduction to Criminal Behavior and Social Control (Soc 3102), two electives from LCD courses (Soc 41xx), one non-LCD soc elective and a remaining Soc elective of their choice.

D. Major Project:

SOC 4966W: Major Project Seminar (4 cr) [prereq.: 1 upper-division writing intensive course]

After the completion of all sociology courses, students write an original culminating paper on the research question of their choice: the Major Project. Honors students should see Honors section for additional information and program requirements.

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Core Classes Course Descriptions

Social Theory

Ever wonder, "How can we lower the crime rate in our community?"; or, "Why do some guys want to be women instead of men?"; or, "What causes so many U.S. marriages to fail?" The list goes on and on and it seems that everyone has an answer, or a theory to help us understand what's happening in the world around us. Theories are "explanations". They are not facts. We can't prove them or disprove them with complete certainty; but they are plausible and they can be tested to see whether scientific methods unveil evidence that gives us confidence (or not) that our theories contain truth - that our explanations "hold water."

Imagine just for a minute that you, a scientist, have been asked to cure a fatal disease, i.e. the common cold. You've made some assumptions, things you believe are true about the common cold. You also know some empirical facts about the human immune system and about viruses in general. You put together everything you think and everything you know that you believe relates to the problem, and you come up with a strategy. You are going to give the patient large daily doses of zinc and vitamin C. You are operating on the basis of a theory that the body uses zinc and vitamin C in particular ways that pump up the immune system. Thus, the body becomes highly capable of fighting viruses, like the cold, and sick time is reduced perhaps as much as 50%. We can use the theory to predict what we think should happen. If your theory is correct, the treatment will work and the patient will be cured. Most social interventions work exactly this way. We develop programs to address problems, expecting the interventions or treatments to produce results anticipated by underlying social theories.

Social Theory (Soc 3701) will consider the traditions of explanation that have been basic to sociological knowledge, how these explanations have been expanded in contemporary theory and how they apply in selected areas of empirical research. It is important to study theory so we can understand the social implications of explanations available to us in the social world; so we can predict the outcomes our society's choices will (or will not) produce.

Basic Social Statistics

So here you are with your theory about how the body uses zinc and vitamin C to pump up the immune system and make the body a maniac virus fighting machine that will chomp the common cold and cut sick days 50%. How do you know your treatment has any impact at all? Maybe the patient would improve just as quickly, or more quickly, without treatment! Not so long ago, healers used leeches to drain patients of "bad blood" that made them sick - we didn't say all theories are good. We scientifically test theories to be certain our knowledge is based on evidence of "observable truth".

Statistics help us summarize and describe observations and assess how accurately we can infer from a limited number of observations to a larger population. They help us estimate how much is explained by our theory; and determine how likely it is that the empirical evidence we observe is a fluke. Is this the one in a million for whom zinc and vitamin C really works?

Statistics help us apply widely agreed-upon criteria for decision-making to the empirical observations we have made. It is the universal language of comparison and contrast central to research in business, education, politics, most scientific fields and social science inquiry. All scientific inquiry requires testing for meaningful, significant differences across groups or individuals and tries to explain why those differences occur. Finally, statistics and research methods are the foundation for our efforts to model precisely and to understand complex social phenomenon.

Basic Social Statistics (Soc 3811) introduces students to basic concepts and techniques of descriptive and inferential statistics through analysis of sociological data. Students learn to use computers and quantitative methods to analyze data for the major project, to complete data analyses in jobs after graduation, and to participate in graduate school statistical training. The course covers levels of measurement, frequencies, cross tabulations, central tendency, deviation, variance, association, normal distribution, probability theory, statistical significance, ANOVA, regression and correlation.

Research Methods

Well, we certainly do not want to get leeches stuck to us just because we get sick, so we're glad many scientists, including social scientists, use statistics to test theories. But honestly, statistics are just a bunch of numbers and without the context of a solid scientific research methodology to back them up, they are difficult to interpret and even harder to use. Research methods help us design tests that are empirically valid, reliable and generalizable so we can use the results to make good decisions.

There is almost never one theory about anything. We are almost always choosing among two or more plausible explanations; and remember that the explanation we choose is important because it leads to an intervention which we believe will produce a specific outcome on the basis of predictions we make from some underlying theory! The scientific method not only helps us determine whether there is truth in what we believe and/or think we observe, but also helps us accumulate empirical evidence that one explanation is better than another under specific circumstances. We do research so we can make better social decisions.

Social Research (Soc 3801) addresses the knowledge and skills needed to design and conduct sociological research studies. Both quantitative and qualitative methods are included. Laboratory sessions provide experience using computers for literature searches, data analysis, and sometimes data collection. The labs also typically include exercises in field observation, interviewing and research reporting.

Generally either a research report or a research proposal is required. The purpose of the paper is to help you grasp and apply course content in a meaningful way. The paper illustrates the course, not the other way around. When relevant, this paper includes a literature review, theory related to hypotheses, research design, sampling, measurement, data collection, results and implications. The project may involve significant group work and usually requires at least one major revision.

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Major Project Seminar

What is the Major Project in Sociology?

The Major Project is an original research paper (typically between 15-25 pages) completed by every Soc major under the supervision of sociology faculty. It includes a statement of the "problem"; specific researchable question; literature review (including a theory component); description of the research method used to collect appropriate data; analysis of primary or secondary data relevant to the research question; and discussion of the findings. According to the Chamber's Committee

The major project is your opportunity to focus on a research question which deeply interests you and to demonstrate the accumulated skills and abilities you have gathered during your college years. Many students finish this requirement feeling it was one of the best learning experiences of their undergraduate careers. Some possible options for the project are a(n):

  • Empirical hypothesis test applying primary or secondary data analysis
  • Descriptive field study based on qualitative empirical research methods
  • Review with resolution of a substantive conceptual or theoretical issue
  • Theory development on a substantive topic, based on a literature review
  • Computer simulation or mathematical model based on literature review
  • Comparative and/or historical analysis from a sociological perspective

Remember that the major project is bigger than most term papers because data collection and analysis are a required component for most.

What Should I Do to Prepare for my Major Project?

Choose A Registration Option. The Department of Sociology offers several options for completing the major project requirement. Select the one that works best for you.

  1. A faculty-supervised Advanced Project Seminar (Soc 4966, 4 cr), which is offered both fall and spring terms, and sometimes during summer. Honors students complete the Senior Honors Proseminar sequence (Soc 4977 fall, and 4978 spring).
  2. A faculty-supervised Advanced Project Independent Study (Soc 4967, 1 cr) paired with an upper division sociology elective of your choice. This is in addition to the sociology electives required for the major and requires consent of instructor. You must complete all requirements for the elective including exams and other assignments. In addition, you must complete a suitable major project paper on a topic related to the course content.
  3. A faculty-supervised Directed Research Project (Soc 4094, 4 cr.) in which you and a faculty member agree upon a research topic of mutual interest. Under faculty mentorship you develop that topic and research question into a major project paper.

For more information about the different Major Project options check the Major Project Seminar Course page.

  • Begin Preparing for your Major Project

Keep a list of interesting authors and articles you read. Make note of social phenomena occurring around you which motivate you to think sociologically about their causes. Think of ways to extend your sociology course work, papers and projects, into a major project. Write down research questions as they occur to you. Keep your notes and computer instructions from statistics and research methods courses, as your major project professor will not re-teach the prerequisite material, but will assume you know it. For more information about preparing for the Major Project click here.

  • Register for your Major Project

Before you register for any of the options, you must obtain a registration permission number. Visit 909 Social Science Building to sign up for a permission number the first day registration starts for the following semester.

Thanks for your patience and good will regarding this process. We understand the importance of completing your major project by your anticipated graduation date, and we empathize with the urgency you feel to register as soon as possible. If you have planned ahead and followed the necessary steps to become prepared, we will do all we can to get you in. So far, we have had 100% success accommodating students when they wish to register for the major project.

  • Some Final Notes About the Major Project

The Department of Sociology hopes that you will recognize this requirement as a significant part of your overall sociology education. Some of our goals for you include the ability to pose a researchable question; integrate ideas and theories; apply research skills to a specific theoretical problem; use data and empirical evidence to answer sociological questions; gain practice in the critical evaluation of research findings / data; see a research project through from its inception to the final written analysis; experience the sense of accomplishment which this brings; understand the sociological perspective and how to use it in developing sociological research; and develop a paper which could become part of your application for graduate school or the basis for a presentation at a professional meeting. We sincerely hope you will enjoy your experience.

Honors & Honors Major Project Guide

The College of Liberal Arts Honors Program provides unique opportunities and encouragement to highly motivated liberal arts majors and offers a broad range of benefits.

You may be admitted to the CLA Honors Program on the basis of academic ability (minimum 3.5 GPA). It is recommended that students have at least three semesters remaining before graduation when they enter the Honors Program, and the Department of Sociology requires Honors participation beginning early in the junior year. Students must achieve a GPA of at least 3.5 in their final 60 credits to graduate with honors.

For more details about the Honors Program itself, visit:

You must complete one major option (general sociology or law, criminology & deviance) in one degree track (BA or BS), and a Senior Honors Thesis. At least two of your upper division sociology electives must be at the 4xxx level or above. Inquire in the Department of Sociology office about the seminar schedule by August of your senior year.

You will complete the thesis through a 2 semester sequence (Soc 4977V and 4978V) in your last year of study. The sequence is taught by a sociology faculty member. Other faculty participate as mentors, advisors and readers for individual theses. In this sequence, you will define, refine and research a suitable topic and research question and then write the honors thesis. Before the thesis is complete, you will have formed a three-faculty committee composed of two sociology faculty and one related department faculty. The final review of the honors thesis includes a face-to-face gathering of yourself and your committee for a discussion of the research process and your individual research. For more information, please consult the Sociology Honors Faculty Representative.

  • Honors Major Program Guide

All sociology Honors majors must satisfy all of the following:

  • Soc 1001: Intro to Sociology OR Soc 1011V: Intro to Sociology Honors (4 cr.)
  • Soc 3701: Social Theory (4 cr.)
  • Soc 3801: Social Research Methods (4 cr.)
  • Soc 3811: Basic Social Statistics (4 cr.)
  • Soc 3xxx/4xxx: Five (5) Upper Division Sociology Electives (15 cr. total) At least two of the five soc electives must be at the 4xxx level

Honors Thesis (6cr.):

  • Soc 4977: Senior Honors Proseminar I (see prereqs. below)
  • Soc 4978: Senior Honors Proseminar II (Prereq. Soc 4977)
  • Oral Defense Committee

Minor Requirements & Declaration

Students with many different majors find sociology a useful and compatible minor.

Sociology minors are designed to enhance study in other majors, so students may not major AND minor in sociology. Minors may choose either the general sociology option or the law, criminology & deviance option. All of the minor credits must be completed on the A/F grade basis.

General Sociology (14 cr. + Intro)

  • Soc 1001 Intro Sociology (3 cr.)
  • Soc 3701 Social Theory (4 cr.)
  • Soc 3801 Research Methods OR Soc 3811 Basic Soc Stats (4 cr.)
  • Soc 3/4xxx (3 cr.)
  • Soc 3/4xxx (3 cr.)

Criminology/Deviance (16 cr. + Intro)

  • Soc 1001 Intro Sociology 3 cr.
  • Soc 3111, 3101, OR 3102 3 cr.
  • Soc 3701 Social Theory OR Soc Soc 3801 Research Methods 4 cr. OR Soc 3811 Basic Social Statistics
  • Soc 3/4xxx (non-crim course) 3 cr.
  • Soc 41xx (LCD elective) 3 cr.
  • Soc 41xx (LCD elective) 3 cr.

If you are interested in declaring a minor, please click here:

General Program Planning

To earn a degree in the College of Liberal Arts (CLA), you must meet all Council of Liberal Education (CLE) requirements and complete a major in a CLA department. To learn about your particular requirements, please talk with your CLA advisor.

The CLA advisors for most sociology majors are located in 575 Heller Hall. CLA advisors for double majors in sociology and an East Bank major (e.g. English, journalism, psychology, Spanish, speech-communication) are in 114 Johnston Hall. CLA advisors for CLA Honors students are in 20 Nicholson Hall. When in doubt, check with the College of Liberal Arts Advising Office.

Specific sociology courses may be used to complete both a major requirement and a college requirement. For example, you may take an upper division sociology course which also meets the cultural diversity requirements of the college. Consult the listings in the appropriate section of the current course bulletin or class schedule for explicit courses meeting the various groups and categories of requirements. You are welcome to take as many sociology courses as you desire. However, since a lack of a specific CLE or CLA requirement will delay graduation, we encourage you to check with your CLA college office to make sure you are able to complete all degree requirements on time.

To complete a degree in CLA, you must decide what courses to take in addition to the sociology major. There are several ways you may approach this selection. You should begin this process by carefully taking stock of personal interests and career goals, so that you can focus on appropriate elective courses to fulfill your degree requirements.

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Academic Policies & Expectations

Evaluation of Transfer Credit

Students who transfer to the University of Minnesota from other institutions sometimes need courses evaluated to have credits accepted in CLA or the major. Knowledgeable faculty will examine your course syllabus and reading list or bibliography, as well as notes, homework assignments, exams and papers which you submit along with a petition (obtained from your college office). Absolutely no petition will be reviewed without at least a syllabus and the name and author of the text used for the course. The course description from the institution's course catalog is not sufficient.

For each sociology course you want evaluated, contact the Sociology Advisor to see if it has already been evaluated. If not, bring in as many of the requested materials as possible to the main Sociology Office at 909 Social Science Building. All of your materials will be returned to you when the evaluation is completed.

In the evaluation, two questions are asked:

  • If offered here, would the course be upper or lower division?
  • Is there an equivalent course offered in our department?

Only "upper division" equivalent sociology courses are accepted for transfer into the major. Lower-division sociology courses may be accepted to satisfy basic credit requirements. Introduction to Sociology courses from all accredited colleges are equivalent to Soc 1001 or Soc 1011.

If the course you are transferring is equivalent to one offered in our department, the transfer course may replace the one we offer. If it is not equivalent to one we offer, it may be used to satisfy prerequisite requirements, general education requirements or it may be applied to your program as a general sociology elective. Transfer credits are far more likely to be accepted as major electives than as major required courses. Credit is granted whenever possible. If credit cannot be granted, the advisor will suggest which department or college might grant approval. For questions, please see the undergraduate sociology advisor.

Scholastic Dishonesty

We hope students will take their academic work seriously and do the best work possible - honestly. We assume that all students know what constitutes academically honest behavior. Sometimes it is less clear whether a particular behavior has crossed the line.

The scholastic conduct committee defines scholastic dishonesty broadly as "any act by a student which misrepresents the student's own academic work or that compromises the academic work of another. Scholastic dishonesty includes, but is not necessarily limited to, cheating on assignments or examinations; plagiarizing, i.e. misrepresenting as one's own work any work done by another; submitting the same paper, or substantially similar papers, to meet the requirements of more than one course without the approval and consent of all instructors concerned; depriving another of necessary course materials; or sabotaging another's work. Within this general definition, however, instructors determine what constitutes academic misconduct in the particular courses they teach."
(Scholastic Committee Policy Statement)

Faculty who discover academic dishonesty have options for handling the incident(s). The outcome may range from negotiating alternative work with the student to failing the student outright for the assignment or for the course and reporting the incident officially to the Scholastic Committee of the college. Students may appeal charges they believe are unfounded.

Reasonable Expectations

  • What You can Expect from Faculty & Staff

Work Load: Each credit at the University of Minnesota Department of Sociology represents a 3 hour per week commitment of your time. A 3 credit semester course should require 9 hours of your time each week. A four credit course means a 12 hour per week commitment.

Generally speaking, you may expect to spend 3 hours outside of class for every hour you spend in class. This means that if you are taking 15 credits during a semester, you may expect to spend 15 hours per week in class and an additional 30 hours per week studying and preparing assignments. It is reasonable to expect faculty/staff to assign enough reading, writing, library, computer lab or other work to fill these study hours, and it is reasonable to expect faculty/staff to build courses that can be successfully satisfied within these parameters.

Writing Intensive: Writing intensive courses are courses specially designated to satisfy the university's upper and/or lower division writing intensive requirements. These courses tie the course grade directly to the quality of your writing as well as to your knowledge of the course material. You will be required to produce at least 10-15 pages of formal writing, receive instruction on the writing process and make at least one round of substantial revision after receiving feedback on a draft.

  • What Faculty & Staff Expect from You

Most University of Minnesota, Department of Sociology faculty and staff realize you are probably working to support your education, yourself and perhaps a family. Most of us have lives that go on outside the university too so we know how hard it is to juggle all the demands of adult life. It has been our experience that one central characteristic which distinguishes successful students from unsuccessful students is the way they approach the responsibilities they accept when they register for university courses. We've thought a lot about our own students, and there are some attitudes and behaviors we believe will serve you well. We believe the successful student:

  • Wants to learn and takes responsibility for his/her own contribution to the learning process; (s)he realizes no one can give him/her an education; it must be earned through persistent and appropriate efforts; (s)he attends class ready to participate, having completed assigned readings.
  • Manages the course material and links it to other things (s)he has learned through experience or other courses; (s)he takes the material beyond memorizing what is needed for this course, this term; and is more concerned with mastering material than with earning grades.
  • Respects diversity; (s)he is respectful of others' ideas, behaviors, and needs and seeks to openly explore alternative points of view without necessarily changing his/her position or the position of the other person.
  • Upholds standards for proper scholastic conduct and holds others accountable for proper scholastic conduct; (s)he does not cheat and doesn't allow cheating to go on around him/her when (s)he is aware of it.
  • Has educated opinions and is willing to dialogue with others; (s)he forms rational arguments to support his/her opinions and communicates his/her ideas well visually, verbally, and in writing.

We already know you are one of these students, and we look forward to participating with you in your higher education.

Grading Policies & Make-Up Exams

Majors and minors must take all sociology courses A/F; all sociology courses must receive a C- or better to apply toward the major, and all courses taken in the BS supportive fields must receive a C- or better. To receive a BA or BS in sociology, you must maintain at least a C grade point average in your major course work. Though you may take up to half of all degree credits, except sociology courses, S/N, you are encouraged to take most courses A/F. The Department of Sociology requires a twelve credit residency for majors, minors and interdisciplinary programs incorporating a sociology component. Twelve credits of sociology must be taken from the University of Minnesota for the program to receive acknowledgment upon graduation.

Incompletes do not occur automatically if you fail to complete course requirements. Not all instructors grant incompletes. You must negotiate each incomplete with your instructor before the end of the term in which you anticipate you will be unable to fulfill your obligation. Incompletes are not encouraged by the department or by the sociology undergraduate advisor because they usually compound the work load in the next term. All undergraduate incompletes must be satisfied within one year or they convert to Fs.

The Department of Sociology offers a make-up session for missed exams, usually in the middle of each term, and once in mid-summer. If you must miss an examination, talk with your instructor before the exam to see whether (s)he will allow a make-up exam. The first or second week of the next term, obtain a permission slip from 909 Social Science to participate in the departmental make-up testing session; obtain your instructor's signature on the form; and return it to 909 Social Science. The receptionist in 909 will then provide you with information about the date, time and location of the make-up examination. Your instructor will provide the make-up exam and will grade the exam after you complete it. This service is offered for the convenience of both students and faculty.

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Opportunities & Resources

  • Getting Involved in the Department of Sociology

University of Minnesota Sociological Association

UMSA, the University of Minnesota Sociological Association, is an organization for sociology majors, run by undergraduate students for undergraduate students Past meetings sponsored by UMSA have featured faculty guest speakers and panels that present opportunities for volunteering, researching, working, and attending graduate school. Members have engaged in volunteer community projects (i.e. Students for Education Reform). The group also gets together for social functions, including movies and discussion sessions.

All students may be as active in this group as they choose; planning events or just attending them. This group has great potential for those who get involved, but it is only as active as its undergraduate members. Set aside time to develop friendships, cultivate leadership opportunities and pursue interaction with faculty, graduate students and fellow undergraduates.

Please visit the UMSA web site for more information regarding upcoming meetings or events at

Funding Opportunities and Awards

Barbara Newsome Internship Award

The purpose of the Barbara Newsome Internship Award is to provide financial support for Sociology undergraduates to engage in unpaid internships in the community related to their major. Recipients of the award will be students in good standing, majoring in Sociology in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota. Selection criteria will be based on academic promise and/or demonstrated need. The award provides a $1600 stipend for a minimum of 135 internship hours.

Sociology Undergraduate Research Fellowship

The Department of Sociology is proud to offer this annual scholarship for sociology undergraduate majors. This award is for sociology majors in good academic standing who are completing their own research involving social problems and/or solutions to social problems. This is an award for up to $1000 to be applied toward books and tuition during the fall semester.

Work Study – Undergraduate Assistantships

Each summer the Undergraduate Affairs Committee selects a pool of undergraduates from among highly qualified applicants for paid teaching assistantships in sociology. These undergraduates do everything graduate TAs do: prepare, proctor, and mark exams; assist with problems concerning course material; read papers, etc. They work 10-20 hours per week and are paid at the standard undergraduate rate. TA-ships are sufficiently demanding that sociology does not permit undergraduate TAs to hold other employment while they are in these positions.

Applications for TA-ships may be picked up each year early in spring semester in the main sociology office (909 Social Science Building) and are due by the 1st of August. Applicants must have a grade point average of at least 3.2, and should have completed most of the requirements for the major in sociology. Find an application here.

Faculty sometimes hire undergrads, primarily juniors and seniors, to collect and code research data. These research assistantships expose students to the fundamentals of social inquiry and frequently result in available data sets for honor's theses and major projects.

Participation on Department Committees

Undergraduates are invited to contribute to the policy-making of the Department of Sociology by participating on departmental committees. Every year a call goes out to undergraduates to join these committees. Membership on a departmental committee can be enriching. Involvement with faculty in decision-making permits interactions which you would not otherwise have; the faculty learn more about what undergraduates need and want from their education; they learn how the department "ticks". Such an experience is a valuable addition to a resume. Openings available for undergraduates include:

Undergraduate Affairs Committee (1-2 students), serves as the policy and advisory body to the Director for Undergraduate Studies. The committee considers and gives advice on matters relating to the undergraduate curriculum, special undergraduate programs of study including honors, advising to undergraduates, and other undergraduate matters referred to it by the Director of Undergraduate Affairs. The members of the Ethics and Grievance Committee are the same as the Undergraduate Affairs Committee. This committee is responsible for recommending policy and procedures to the department which attend departmental general expectations of its faculty in instructional, research and service matters and their integration. In its role as grievance committee it serves as the formal hearing committee of the department as specified by the University Senate Report on Academic Freedom and Responsibility. The committee also handles ethics and grievance problems arising among students and staff of the department. If a member of the committee is personally involved in a grievance, a substitute will be appointed.

Executive Committee (1 student) serves as an advisory board to the chair on general departmental matters (including budget), serves as a sub-committee on long range planning, and helps coordinate the resources and work of the department.

Personnel Committee (1 student) recruits, screens, and presents candidates for faculty positions within the department. It recommends policy to the department regarding hiring of new personnel within university and college guidelines. Often meets over the summer.

Sociology Research Institute (SRI) (1 - 4 students), this committee is co-chaired by a faculty member and one or more graduate students. The committee is responsible for planning all aspects of the department's spring research institute. These duties include selecting a date for the event, a speaker(s), student presenters, and assigning subcommittees
for awards and food.

If you are interested in serving on any of these committees, find an application here:

Sociology Research Institute

The Sociology Research Institute (SRI) is an all-day conference sponsored by the University of Minnesota Sociology Department each spring. You are invited to participate in planning the event, submitting papers for presentation and for the undergraduate paper competition, attending lunch, and/or any number of paper sessions held on a variety of sociological topics throughout the conference. You may also nominate excellent faculty, graduate student instructors and teaching assistants for top teaching awards. Check the undergraduate newsletter for information and updates.            

Soc Scene: Undergraduate Newsletter

The Soc Scene is the official newsletter of the Sociology Undergraduate Advising Office. All declared majors and minors added to the Department listserv will receive the Soc Scene. The newsletter is an important source of information about new courses in the Department, activities of the UMSA, and a multitude of opportunities – jobs, internships, and more – in addition to upcoming professional meetings and conferences. The editor welcomes contributions and feedback from students. Submit requires to the advisors at

  • Getting Involved in the Wider Community

Internships & Volunteer Opportunities

Internships are not required, but they are strongly recommended. Students find time to include intern or volunteer activities in their lives because these opportunities teach valuable skills and increase marketability after college. You may develop networking relationships that pay off during the job search or lead directly to a paid position later. While many are unpaid, you can still apply for a stipend with the Barbara Newsome Internship Award, which you can find out more about here:

The Community Service-Learning Center is the source for information about arranging internships and for comprehensive listings of available internships. Simply schedule an appointment with one of their wonderful advisors, and they’ll help you find your ideal position.

With faculty supervision, credit may be arranged for readings or a research paper connected with an agency experience (3 directed study/research credits). Before you ask a professor to supervise your project, write a proposal and prepare a bibliography of possible readings. Describe your preparations in the areas of statistics and research methods. The sociology advising office has contracts for directed study and directed research.

Learning Abroad

Sociologists value comparative, cross-cultural experiences with all their hearts. In fact, international trips are often peak experiences for undergraduate sociology students. Even the shortest travel abroad can be a catalyst that makes your texts and lectures vital and alive for you, and it looks fantastic on a resume!

Students often have questions about types of programs, destinations, credit and financial aid for study abroad. We strongly encourage interested students to visit the Learning Abroad Center, where they can attend a First Steps meeting to learn more about studying abroad.

Some courses abroad may count toward your Sociology major, so be sure to check with Sociology Advising regarding your planned courses abroad.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program

The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) grants financial assistance, up to $1400 per grant, for student-designed participation on faculty supervised research projects or student initiated projects supervised by a faculty member. You and your supervising faculty member write and submit a research proposal for October or February consideration to the UROP Committee. Grants are awarded twice a year.

Directory of Useful Resources

Liberal Arts College Offices
CLA Advising: 575 Social Science - 612-626-7714
University Honors Program: 20 Nicholson Hall - 612-624-5522

CLA Career Services
411 Science Teaching & Student Services Building

Community Service-Learning Center
240 Appleby Hall

Student Employment
Job Center: 170 Donhowe - 612-625-2000

Learning Abroad Center
230 Heller Hall - 612-626-9000

International Student & Scholar Services
190 Hubert H. Humphrey School - 612-626-7100

Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program
233 Appleby Hall

University Counseling and Consulting Services
Career Counseling: 109 Eddy Hall
All services: 612-624-3323

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