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Columbia University Course/Program Name
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International :01 Jan

BA Sociology

 Course Level
Bachelors / UG
Full Time

3 Years
 Start month

 Tuition fee

46040 USD
46040 USD

Application fee

International 75 USD
National 75 USD
Department of Sociology
Scores accepted
IELTS (min)7
TOEFL-IBT (min)100
TOEFL-PBT (min)600

World University Ranking

About this course

Sociology explores social life in all its fascinating variety. We illuminate the intricate processes through which human beings express their social being: cooperation, conflict, power, exchange, morality, symbolism, solidarity, domination, dependency, affection, morality, identity, deviance, social control, and violence. We also study the forms those processes take: face-to-face interaction, social networks, small groups, subcultures, families, gender divisions, religion, popular and high culture, social class, structures of race and ethnicity, bureaucracy, social movements, professions, the state, even the larger world of relations among states.  Our students learn to identify these social processes and forms in any topic they study.

The subjects that sociologists study are practically limitless. Our course and research topics range far and wide: from the big global forces that shape immigration to the United States and elsewhere to the most personal of identity dilemmas faced by their second-generation children;  from the powerful impact of law on the design and flow of our urban life to the changing boundaries of race, religion and ethnicity; from life in immense, hierarchical institutions to the most intimate realm of sexuality and the body; from the organization and ideology of social movements that shake established structures to the meanings encoded in popular culture texts, child-rearing practices, and inaugural speeches; from the complex entangled forces of labor market and demography that produce inequality to the micro-forces that shape Wall Street traders and art auctioneers. And that’s only for starters.  Sociology students can either develop a broad knowledge in a diverse array of subjects or proficiency on a concentrated topic.

Sociologists offer a distinctive, often surprising take on the topics that consume friendly discussion and public policy debate, tv punditry and social movement rhetoric.  They do so by deploying careful research methods to expose what the casual observer often cannot see.  The methods themselves may vary.  Some scholars look to the sciences and quantitative data to uncover causal connections among social phenomena. Others embrace the methods of historical inquiry, delving into archives and oral history. Some ask people directly to respond to large surveys, in-depth interviews, or requests for biographical narratives. Still others are drawn to the practices of participatory observation and ethnography, heading to the field to clarify conundrums through intimate contact and close observation.  But whether sociologists look to humanist, historical, or scientific endeavors for their inspiration, it is this ideal of rigorous methodology that lies at the heart of the field, and imparting it defines our undergraduate mission.  Such proficiency equips our students with skills not just for their academic courses but for the entire array of professions and experiences that beckon them.

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Eligibility Criteria

To be well-prepared for a college like Barnard, it is important to think about the academic community you are hoping to join. Barnard's general education requirements cover a wide range of subjects: literature, the social sciences, language and the arts, lab sciences, and quantitative areas. For this reason, you should acquire a strong foundation in high school, taking courses from the core academic subjects: math, science, English, history, and foreign language. Do your best to take the most rigorous classes available to you in which you can do your best work. For transfer students, our recommendations are similar. Take courses that are recommended to fulfill general requirements in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. If an area is a relative weakness, continue taking that subject while pursuing advanced coursework in areas of relative strength. Remember, we hope to see how you might contribute to our intellectual community, and your choices tell us what kind of a student you will be.

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Course Modules

There are no special admissions requirements or procedures for students interested in majoring in sociology. Students are assigned a major advisor on declaring the major; prior to that, students are encouraged to consult with any member of the department regarding their choice and sequence of courses.

Course Requirements

The Sociology major is comprised of 10 courses, including:

Foundations (3 courses):

SOCI UN1000 The Social World (recommended no later than the sophomore year)

SOCI UN3000 Social Theory

SOCI UN3010 Methods for Social Research (no later than the junior year)

Electives (5 courses):

Of the five electives required for the major, no more than one can be at the 2000 level and at least one must be a seminar at the 3900 (or 4000) level.

With the exception of the senior thesis or designated research seminar (see below) the Foundations and Elective courses may be taken at either Barnard or Columbia

Senior Requirement (courses):

There are two ways to satisfy the senior requirement.

Research Paper Option: two upper level seminars (SOCI BC or UN 3900 or above), one of which must be a designated research seminar taught by a Barnard faculty member that requires a 25- to 30-page research paper based on some primary research, plus any additional upper level seminar offered by the Barnard or Columbia sociology departments.

Thesis Option: two-semester senior thesis, involving original sociological research and analysis on a topic of the student’s choice, in consultation with an advisor; requires enrollment in SOCI BC3087-3088.

Additional Information about the senior requirement

Research Paper Option: This option is intended for majors who are interested in graduating with a broader exposure to the discipline of sociology, with more limited experience in conducting original research.

Each semester the department offers 2-3 designated research seminars, which are listed on the department’s website prior to the Spring program planning period. These seminars vary in content and format and are open to all students, with priority given to senior sociology majors taking the course to meet their senior requirement.

Prerequisites for students taking the designated research seminar to meet the senior requirement include successful completion of: (1) SOCI UN1000 (The Social World); (2) SOCI UN3000 (Social Theory) or SOCI UN3010 (Methods for Social Research); and (3) at least one elective course related to the focus of the seminar.  Instructors may waive some aspect of the prerequisites.

Students may also enroll in these seminars prior to their senior year for elective credit.

Note: Majors only need to take one designated research seminar to meet the senior requirement; the second seminar can be any upper level seminar (BC or UN 3900 or above).

Thesis Option: The two-semester senior thesis involves original sociological research and analysis on a topic of the student’s choice, in consultation with an advisor.  This option is intended for majors who want the opportunity to explore a sociological subfield in depth and conduct independent primary research as their senior capstone experience.

Students interested in writing a senior thesis must submit a 2-3 paragraph proposal, along with a brief letter of endorsement from a faculty member in the department who has agreed to serve as their thesis advisor to the Department Chair, no later than the advanced registration deadline for the student’s first semester of their senior year. Decisions will be made in consultation with the student’s program and thesis advisors prior to the final program planning deadline for that semester. In exceptional cases, students may apply for and receive permission to enroll in the two-semester option before the deadline for final registration in the first semester of their senior year.

Prerequisites:  (1) SOCI UN1000 (The Social World); (2) SOCI UN3010 (Methods for Social Research); and (3) at least one elective course related to the proposed thesis topic must be completed before the first semester of the senior year to be eligible for the two-semester thesis.

Students approved for the senior thesis will enroll in SOCI BC3087 (Individual Projects for Seniors) and BC3088 (Individual Projects for Seniors) with their selected advisor.

All seniors must submit a final, bound copy of the research paper or senior thesis to the Department no later than the last day of classes of the second semester of their senior year in order to receive credit (Pass or Pass with Distinction) for the senior requirement. 

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How to Apply

Submit all supporting materials

  • Request that all official high school and college transcripts be sent to Barnard College along with your high school's profile. Your guidance counselor will also need to submit the School Report.
  • Submit official standardized testing. For more information, please view
  • Submit Teacher Evaluation forms. We require letters from two teachers that taught you in core academic subjects (English, foreign language, history [social science], mathematics, or science) in your final two years of secondary school.
  • Your counselor will submit the mid-year report with your first semester senior grades by March 1st via the common application.
  • Submit TOEFL or IELTS (if applicable). In addition to SAT/ACT requirements, TOEFL/IELTS scores are required for students whose primary language is not English and who have not been enrolled in a school where English is the primary medium of instruction for four consecutive years

Optional Supplemental Materials

  • Students may choose to complete an on-campus or off-campus interview. For information on how and when to schedule an interview, please visit our admissions interview page. 
  • Students may choose to submit supplementary portfolios (art—including film, photo, drawing, painting, sculpture—music, dance, theatre, or creative writing) for review via Slideroom. 
    Please note: Supplementary material will not be reviewed by Barnard faculty, and unfortunately, during high volume periods, we cannot guarantee it will be reviewed by the Admissions Committee. 

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