How do I transfer credit?

Sociology majors and non-majors can transfer sociology credit from accredited colleges or universities. To do so students should reach out to the Undergraduate Advisor in the sociology department. You will need to provide a full syllabus for the course and fill out an Undergraduate Request for Transfer Credit form that is available through the registrar’s office. More information is available from the registrar here: https://registrar.rice.edu/students/transfer-credit/undergraduate

Prior to studying abroad you should also plan to meet with the Undergraduate Advisor to discuss the courses you are considering. Typically the department is looking for courses that are labeled as sociology courses, are taught by sociologists, and/or cover substantial sociological topics and content. Providing syllabi and course descriptions will help the Undergraduate Advisor provide you with information about which courses are likely to be approved upon course completion for transfer credit. More information is available from the study abroad office here: https://abroad.rice.edu/apply/credits-transcripts

How do I declare a major or minor in Sociology?

This one's really easy. Set a meeting with the Undergraduate Advisor and bring in an unofficial transcript and a declaration of major (or minor) form. The advisor will discuss the major/minor requirements, your goals for studying Sociology, your academic plan for completing the major/minor, and your goals for the future. It is a great chance to learn about opportunities available to you through the department and to make sure you are on track to complete all of the requirements. Plus the advisor likes to get to know all of our students! Next, take a copy of the form back to the Registrar’s Office. Voila!

For advising, the Undergraduate 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.


  • 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. The first step is to bring in an academic plan to discuss with the Undergraduate Advisor in Sociology. They will be able to help you determine whether you can finish the major and what course plan makes sense. 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 and you may be able to complete the minor requirements. This will be enough to satisfy employers or graduate schools that you have a substantive background in Sociology.
  • What if the major requirements change during my time at Rice?
    You have a choice of graduating either under the terms of the catalog you enter Rice with (your matriculation catalog), or of the catalog 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 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 SOPA, Biology, Statistics, and Computer Science. People also combine Sociology with WGST, PLST, and other interdisciplinary programs and minors. 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. Establish a clear plan to meet regularly with the faculty member supervising the work, and build in a plan for when you will complete this coursework during the week. If you have good time management skills an independent study is an excellent way to do a deep-dive on topics of interest to you that are not covered by the typical curriculum.

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 Sociology. This makes it both exciting and challenging to build a future, because many choices are open to you.

Many of our majors go to graduate school or professional schools, pursuing graduate degrees in medicine, public health, law, business, social work, public administration and public policy, as well as PhDs 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.

The strong analytic, methodological, and statistical skills acquired as a Sociology major have qualified our graduates for jobs in business and consulting, the technology sector, research positions in government and think-tanks, public policy work, non-profit work and community organizing, and education, among many others. While there is not a set career path, your training in data analysis, synthesizing information, and presenting results are highly transferable skills that can serve you well in a range of different careers. As you start to think about what path you want to pursue after graduation, we urge you to meet 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 plan for 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, Chicago)
  • Economic Development Planner (Kennedy School)
  • Financial research – Shell, BP, Stavis Margolis
  • Consulting
  • Research Think-Tank
  • 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
  • Teacher
  • Tech Startup

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 Thesis, or join the Mellon Mays or Rice Undergraduate Scholars Program (RUSP). 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, finding a department with multiple faculty who can support research training in your specific area of interest is key. This offers you multiple potential advisors and opportunities to get involved in research within your area. Second, it is helpful 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. The Undergraduate Advisor is also a great resource for talking about developing your application materials, asking faculty to serve as recommendation letter writers, and finalizing your list of schools. Rice has an excellent record in placing students at the top Sociology graduate programs. If you are interested in graduate programs outside of sociology, there are many Rice resources available for pursuing law school and medical school, but the department can also be a resource to assist with thinking about policy school, public administration, or master’s degrees in various areas. Don’t be shy about setting an appointment with the Undergraduate Advisor to talk through your options.

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 ideal recommender is a faculty member whom you have taken a class with, who knows your work, and your interests. This means that you should make a point of getting to know the faculty; going to office hours is a great way to connect with faculty and speak to them about your future plans and interests. The more information the faculty recommender has from you concerning your interests and experiences, the easier it is to write a strong recommendation letter. So, please schedule an appointment and bring in for discussion (this list will vary by professor):

  • An unofficial transcript.
  • A resume/CV
  • 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.
  • A description of why you are interested in and a good fit for the specific program, job, internship, etc.

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.