How do I transfer credit?

Sociology majors and non-majors can transfer sociology credit from accredited colleges or universities by following the steps here.

How do I declare a major?

This one's really easy. First, take a look at the catalogue to get some sense of what the Sociology major entails. Next, bring in an unofficial transcript and a declaration of major form to the Major/Minor Advisor, Sergio Chavez, who likes to discuss the major, your own goals for studying Sociology and your thoughts about your future with you before signing the form. (This is a way to get to know you!) Next, take a copy of the form back to the Registrar’s Office. Voila! You will also often get preferential treatment in registering for limited-enrollment courses. For advising, the Major/Minor Advisor is available (and happy!) to discuss any questions you may have, as well as to sign forms. You should also feel free to consult any and all members of the department for help in constructing your program and schedule. We encourage you to take courses from our entire faculty as you explore the discipline, for we are proud of our reputation as an excellent teaching department. But…

  • What if I’ve discovered Sociology so late it looks difficult to major in it?
    This happens fairly often, because people are not usually exposed to Sociology in high school, so they don’t arrive at Rice wanting to be Sociology majors, but rather discover Sociology through coursework. Even if your schedule makes it really hard to actually major in Sociology, you can take courses so that your transcript shows a record of active and consistent interest in Sociology. This will be enough to satisfy employers or graduate schools that you have a substantive background in Sociology. If you are in this situation, come in and discuss options with the Undergraduate Advisor.
  • What if the major requirements change during my time at Rice?
    You have a choice of graduating either under the terms of the catalogue you enter Rice with (your matriculation catalogue), or of the catalogue for the year of your graduation. Be aware of this, and plan your major to meet the requirements of one of those two academic years.
  • What do I do if a Sociology class I want or need to take is full?
    First, if you know that you may have trouble getting into a class, register as early as possible. If you are abroad, the only way to do this is to get a friend to register early for you. If the "early bird" tactic fails, then go to the professor and discuss the situation. Some faculty have formal waiting lists, some faculty have a less formal procedure of noting interest and trying to keep a place open for students who need a given course, but it is always worthwhile to discuss your situation with the person offering the course. In general, if you are a Sociology major, and especially an upper class major, this may count in your favor for winning a place in a capped course. If you are having trouble completing one of the required courses for the major, discuss this with the Undergraduate Advisor.

Can I "double major?"

Quite a few Sociology majors are double majors, combining Sociology with majors from English and History to Biology and Computer Science. People also combine Sociology with Policy Studies, WGST, and other interdisciplinary programs. Double majors take the same number of courses, and have the same core requirements for the major as single majors.

How do get an "Independent Study?"

Independent study courses are individually tailored courses whose content and workload are negotiated between a faculty member and a student. A student desiring to do this kind of course should approach a faculty member with an idea – often related to a class taken with that faculty member. They will then discuss the format and requirements for successful completion of a 3 credit hour course. Often, this means doing further reading and/or qualitative (interviewing, observation) or quantitative (statistical analysis) research, with a substantial term paper due at the end of the semester. Faculty members may be interested in other independent projects as well – e.g. directed readings with smaller papers, or term papers written in relation to internships (with additional reading and/or research). If you cannot think of which faculty member to approach, discuss this with the Undergraduate Advisor.

Note: Independent study courses require a lot of initiative and self-discipline. You will probably be working without much direction, and it’s easy to put this work aside under pressure of inflexible deadlines from other courses. Establishing a regular time to meet with the faculty member supervising you can help, but students have been known to go underground as the semester progresses, and we will not police you. Think about this issue in advance! On the other hand, doing an independent study is an excellent way to see whether academic research is something that you enjoy doing on your own.

What can I do with a degree in Sociology?

This question is important for our majors, and sometimes for their parents, who may greet our students’ enthusiasm for Sociology with a blank stare and expressions of concern about how their children are going to make a living. It is true that there is no single route into the world of employment with a Sociology degree; in fact few fields have as broad a scope and relevance as does Sociology. This makes it both exciting and challenging to build a future, because many choices are open to you.
Many of our majors go on to graduate school or professional schools, pursuing graduate degrees in medicine, public health, law, business, social work, international relations and policy studies, as well as Ph.D’s in Sociology. We have information about graduate and summer school programs in Sociology, and about internships that can expose you to experience in business, government, and non-profit organizations. We can also connect you to offices at Rice University and to our alumni should you want more personal sources of information about a given career.
Even if they eventually go on to post-graduate education, many majors take jobs when they graduate. The strong analytic, methodological, and statistical skills acquired as a Sociology major have qualified our graduates for jobs in business, government, service, and education.
We urge you to discuss these issues with the Undergraduate Advisor, as well as faculty you know well in the department. We will all be happy to discuss resources at Rice and beyond to help you in building on your major to make a future you will find rewarding after graduation from Rice What have other Sociology majors done after graduation?
This list describes the post-graduate activities of some of our majors and should give you a clearer idea of the career opportunities open to a Sociology major. As you can see from the variety of careers, majoring in Sociology does not so much impart a narrow set of professional skills as educate majors to see the world through a "sociological perspective," which can be applied in a broad range of contexts.

  • Attorney (Law School: Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Texas, Iowa, Cornell)
  • Economic Development Planner (Kennedy School)
  • Financial research – Shell, BP, Stavis Margolis
  • Public Health (Yale, UTSPH)
  • Medicine (Johns Hopkins, Baylor, UTMB Galveston)
  • Social Work (NYU, Berkeley)
  • Film School (UCLA)
  • IT entrepreneur
  • Real estate developer
  • Manager, non-profit service organizations
  • Accounting Consultant
  • International Relations (Woodrow Wilson, Thunderbird)
  • Sales
  • Paralegal
  • Educational Policy (Harvard School of Education, LBJ School)
  • Event manager/marketing
  • Teach for America

How to Find a Job with a BA in Sociology
People with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology are often employed in the helping professions, business, and administrative positions. They do not usually hold the title "sociologist," however. Employment opportunities for those with BA's in Sociology include (but are not limited to) entry-level positions in: administration, advertising, banking, accounting, counseling (family planning, developmental, career), community planning, health services, journalism, marketing and market research and consulting, publishing, sales, human resources or personnel work, social services, social research, teaching, IT writing and marketing. Finding a job often includes but goes beyond designing a resume and consulting with Rice’s office of Career Services. Use some of your skills as a sociologist, here. For example, use summer employment and internships to develop both knowledge of what you’re interested in and networks of people who can help you in your job search. Consult personnel offices of corporations, social service agencies, etc. to find out more about possible employers. Use the web. Use resources at Rice to contact alumni who are in areas you may be interested in exploring. (E.G. the Sociopath contains correspondence from Sociology alumni; the Alumni Office has lists of alumni "mentors." Also remember that faculty members will be as supportive as possible in this endeavor.

How do I go to Grad School?

Examine the Guide to Graduate Departments of Sociology published annually by the American Sociological Association and rankings of graduate departments you can find online. Discuss graduate school, both generally and in regard to specific departments, with faculty members in our department, especially those whose interests resemble yours. If you think you may be interested in becoming an academic sociologist, make plans to do a long research paper, independent study, Sociology honors, or the Mellon or RUSP programs. This is useful in order a) to see whether you enjoy independent scholarly research and b) to have a writing sample to send off with your application. Bear in mind a couple of things as you select schools to apply to. First, it is crucial in establishing a career as a sociologist to find a highly-ranked graduate department, for your training, your advisor/recommender, and the network of peers you develop in graduate school are all important in building an exciting academic career. Second, Rice has an excellent record in placing students at the top Sociology graduate programs. If you are interested in teaching at the elementary and secondary levels, contact the Education Department at Rice and the state board of education in the state where you wish to work to see what requirements must be met to receive a teaching certificate. Houston, for example, offers an Alternative Certification program.

Can I get a letter of recommendation?

Faculty members are very willing to write recommendations for majors applying for jobs, graduate school, off-campus programs, and internships. Just ask the professor of your choice, or consult the Undergraduate Advisor. The more information we have from you concerning your interests and experiences, the easier it is for us to write strong recommendations for you. So, please schedule an appointment and bring in for discussion (this list will vary by professor):

  • An unofficial transcript.
  • A resume of jobs, activities, etc.
  • A description of papers you have written or projects you have done for that professor.
  • A list of where you want the recommendations sent and deadlines for their completion.

This preparation will make it easier for the professor to write a detailed and timely letter of recommendation. Also remember that Career Services will keep a file of recommendations for you, so if you are going abroad, or wish to have letters for the future, ask for recommendations while you can contact and discuss your needs directly with a professor.