Bachelor of Arts in Sociology
Understanding social actions, patterns and change has never been more urgent or relevant than in today's complex and unstable world.
From peace and justice to conflict and inequality, from immigration to globalization, from sustainable cities to rural communities, from health care to welfare, the topics explored in sociology make it a relevant and endlessly fascinating field of study. Sociology will provide you with the theory and methods with which to grapple with these constructs and concerns—and to generate knowledge that makes a difference in the world.
As a sociology major, you'll be prepared for a career in a wide range of professions, including education, human services, law, health care, business and social change.
Our department's ethos has long been one of engagement—both in social movements that drive democratic change and in the analysis of them. In addition to mastering sociology theory and methods, you'll focus on one of four areas: gender and family; institutions, culture and religion; health and illness; and politics and social change.
We specialize in qualitative analysis but embrace historical, quantitative and comparative methods as well. We are also deeply interdisciplinary, working closely with other Brandeis programs like Women's and Gender Studies; Health: Science, Society and Policy; International and Global Studies; Social Justice and Social Policy; Peace, Conflict and Coexistence Studies; and with the Heller School for Social Policy and Management.
Academics and Research
Student-faculty collaboration is strongly encouraged. You might find yourself working with faculty to research environmental organizations; patterns of racial inequity; laws applying to Indian reservations, or religious and spiritual policies and practices in hospitals. Such collaborations often result in papers published or co-presented at professional conferences.
If you wish to conduct extensive independent research, you may elect to write an honors thesis.
Our distinguished faculty are regularly recognized for excellent teaching, path-breaking research and engagement with the community. Their work is regularly funded by the American Sociological Association, the National Science Foundation and the Kellogg Foundation, among other prestigious institutions.
Karen Hansen, chair of the department, received the 2016 Gita Chaudhuri Book Prize from the Western Association of Women Historians for her book Encounter on the Great Plains.
Sara Shostak, associate professor, received a Teaching Innovations Grant for work with students on a community-based research project on food, health and community in nearby Mattapan.
In February 2017, Carmen Sirianni, undergraduate advising head, published "Civic Innovation: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow" in the journal Perspective on Politics. He is also faculty affiliate at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Outside the Classroom
You can complement what you learn in class with engagement in the community—be it in social movements, human services organization, community coalitions, or peace, environmental or social justice groups.
Through various internships, service learning, and experiential courses, students can combine classroom learning with active engagement or action research in community organizations; social movements; human service and healthy community coalitions; peace, environmental, and social justice groups; and policy organizations.
Some examples of recent internships include:
conducting peace games for volunteers in nearby Roxbury
developing a hunger-relief curriculum for Waltham Community Farms
providing services to a local senior center
providing support at an anti-domestic battering education and referral program
developing leadership skills with the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance
convening a "Wingspread" youth summit among major national student organizations and Campus Compact
Graduate Study, Careers and Alumni
Many of our alumni go on to pursue a master's or doctoral degree in sociology, often becoming professors, secondary education teachers and authors.
Some choose to pursue their PhD at Brandeis, in one of our dynamic programs:
A doctoral program in sociology.
We also offer a joint sociology and women's and gender studies master's program.
Sociology graduates work in fields as varied as the arts, advocacy, consulting, health care, public policy and broadcast journalism.
Our alumni have gone on to become the manager of online marketing at Showtime Network Inc.; a staff writer at the Post Tribune; a project manager at the United Nations' International Labor Organization; the social action project coordinator at Stanford University's Hillel; an attorney for the Food and Drug Administration; a co-founder of Anyclip.com, a movie clip search engine; and a trend adviser to technology venture capitalists.
Our alumni include:
Mitch Albom ’79, sports columnist, screenwriter, and author of "Tuesdays With Morrie;"
Sidney Blumenthal ’69, former aide to President Bill Clinton;
Nicole Karlebach ’04, an attorney for Human Rights First;
Ben Brandzel ’03, a pioneer in developing online political campaigns for Moveon.org, Greenpeace, Oxfam and the Obama Administration; and
Devika Mahadevan ’00, CEO of Mumbai Mobile Creches, which provides early childhood care and education to children of construction workers in India.