Bachelor of Arts (BA) Degree with a Major in Sociology

Program Learning Outcomes for the BA Degree with a Major in Sociology

Upon completing the BA degree with a major in Sociology, students will be able to:

  1. Understand the functions of theory and its use in the social sciences. Students will be familiar with key social theorists in the field. Students will understand key theoretical concepts and be comfortable using them beyond the classroom.
  2. Gain a richer understanding of the social world, including class, race, gender, ethnicity, education, family, occupation, deviancy, health, and global citizenship as well as how the human social world impacts its environment.
  3. Apply sociological knowledge and training to understand theory and policy oriented around issues of human well-being in the US and globally, including how to understand the relationship between inequality and factors like race, class, gender, and education.
  4. Apply methodological, theoretical, and research skills to carry out empirical research projects.

Requirements for the BA Degree with a Major in Sociology

For general university requirements, see Graduation Requirements. Students pursuing the BA degree with a major in Sociology must complete:

  • A minimum of 11 courses (33-34 credit hours, depending on course selection) to satisfy major requirements.
  • A minimum of 120 credit hours to satisfy degree requirements.
  • A minimum of 10 courses (30-31 credit hours, depending on course selection) taken at the 300-level or above.
  • A maximum of 5 courses (15 credit hours) from study abroad or transfer credit. For additional departmental guidelines regarding transfer credit, see the Policies tab. 

The courses listed below satisfy the requirements for this major. In certain instances, courses not on this official list may be substituted upon approval of the major’s academic advisor, or where applicable, the department's Director of Undergraduate Studies. (Course substitutions must be formally applied and entered into Degree Works by the major's Official Certifier.) Students and their academic advisors should identify and clearly document the courses to be taken.


Total Credit Hours Required for the Major in Sociology33-34
Total Credit Hours Required for the BA Degree with a Major in Sociology120

Degree Requirements

Core Requirements
Select 1 from the following:3-4
Elective Requirements
Select 7 elective courses from departmental (SOCI) course offerings at the 300-level or above21
Total Credit Hours Required for the Major in Sociology33-34
Additional Credit Hours to Complete Degree Requirements *55-56
University Graduation Requirements *31
Total Credit Hours120

Footnotes and Additional Information

Policies for the BA Degree with a Major in Sociology

Program Restrictions and Exclusions

Students pursuing the major in Sociology should be aware of the following program restriction:

Transfer Credit 

For Rice University’s policy regarding transfer credit, see Transfer Credit. Some departments and programs have additional restrictions on transfer credit. The Office of Academic Advising maintains the university’s official list of transfer credit advisors on their website: Students are encouraged to meet with their academic program’s transfer credit advisor when considering transfer credit possibilities. 

Departmental Transfer Credit Guidelines

Students pursuing the major in Sociology should be aware of the following departmental transfer credit guidelines:

  • No more than 5 courses (15 credit hours) of transfer credit from U.S. or international universities of similar standing as Rice may apply towards the major.
  • Requests for transfer credit will be considered by the program director (and/or the program’s official transfer credit advisor) on an individual case-by-case basis. 

Additional Information 

For additional information, please see the Sociology website:

Opportunities for the BA Degree with a Major in Sociology 

Academic Honors

The university recognizes academic excellence achieved over an undergraduate’s academic history at Rice. For information on university honors, please see Latin Honors (summa cum laude, magna cum laude, and cum laude) and Distinction in Research and Creative Work. Some departments have department-specific Honors awards or designations.

Departmental Honors Program 

The Sociology Department Honors Program is designed to provide sociology majors with the opportunity to sharpen their research skills and deepen their understanding of the discipline through a 2-to-3 semester program of directed independent research and writing. The program also offers the opportunity for formal recognition, through Departmental Honors, of those undergraduates who have demonstrated unusual competence in sociology by successfully completing a sustained independent research project. Small grants for honors thesis research are generously supported by the Chandler and Ian Davidson Scholars Fund as well as the Walter Hall Scholars program.


To be eligible for the Departmental Honors Program, students must have:

  • Taken at least 4 sociology courses beyond SOCI 101 Introduction to Sociology, including SOCI 381 Research Methods. If their project requires statistical analysis, students should also complete SOCI 382 Social Statistics (or SOSC 302 Quantitative Analysis for the Social Sciences) before beginning their research.
  • An A- (3.67) GPA in all sociology courses taken.

Application Process  

  1. During the fall and early spring semester of their junior year, students are invited to consult with tenured and tenure-track members of the faculty about a potential thesis topic. All students must have at least 1 tenured or tenure-track faculty member in the sociology department as their thesis chair. The student must submit a written description of their proposed research project to the chosen faculty member for approval of their topic and review of their proposal, as well as secure agreement of the chosen faculty member(s) to serve as their thesis committee chair.
  2. Once a thesis supervisor has been identified, the student must submit a written description of their proposed research project to the departmental undergraduate advisor. The proposal should be 2-3 pages in length, double-spaced, and is due by April 1st of their junior year. It should include a signed statement from the chosen faculty member agreeing to serve as their chair advisor.
  3. The sociology faculty will vote on the merits of the proposed thesis project at their monthly faculty meeting in mid-April. If approved, the student may begin work on their thesis immediately, or at a start time agreed upon with their thesis supervisor (including summer semester, if desired).


Students in the Honors Program register for 2 successive semesters in Directed Honors Research (SOCI 492 and SOCI 493). An honors thesis typically involves much discussion over both semesters between the student and their tenure or tenure-track advisor. Students should meet early in the process to agree on ground rules for the project, to choose the other members of the thesis committee (made up of one additional faculty member, who serves as a reader and ad-hoc advisor), and to set up a schedule for discussions and submission of written work. It is the department’s experience that students who work alone without much consultation with faculty are less likely to succeed in their project than students who maintain close contact with their advisor and the department. Students are also encouraged to include other members of the committee in discussion of the thesis, especially as the project nears completion, so that their feedback can be incorporated before the final draft of the project is submitted.

Students normally begin by conducting a thorough review of the relevant literature, formulating hypotheses that grow out of the literature review, and proposing a research design that clearly describes how the data for the project are to be collected and analyzed. The research itself is usually carried out in the fall semester of the senior year (and sometimes in the summer following the junior year), and is analyzed, written up, and defended as a completed Honor’s Thesis during the spring semester of the senior year. (Students are encouraged to examine several previously written theses, which are available in the sociology department.)

In addition to the student’s primary advisor, the thesis is read and evaluated by the faculty members, sometimes from other departments, who make up the student’s thesis committee.

Program Timeline 

  • A first draft of the final thesis must be turned in to the committee members no later than February 1st of the student’s senior year.
  • After receiving feedback on the project, the student will have until the last Monday in March to submit a final draft of the senior thesis to their committee.
  • A short presentation (10-15 minutes) of the final thesis project must be given to the full sociology faculty by mid-April. Faculty will vote on whether to grant Departmental Honors to the student at the conclusion of their presentation.

Additional Information 

For additional information, please see the Sociology website: