Department of Sociology

  • Chair

    Mitchell Duneier

  • Departmental Representative
    Frederick F. Wherry
  • Director of Graduate Studies

    Robert J. Wuthnow

  • Professor

    Miguel A. Centeno, also Woodrow Wilson School

    Dalton Conley

    Matthew Desmond

    Mitchell Duneier

    Patricia Fernandez-Kelly

    Jennifer L. Jennings, also Woodrow Wilson School

    Douglas S. Massey, also Woodrow Wilson School

    Sara S. McLanahan, also Woodrow Wilson School

    Matthew J. Salganik

    Kim Lane Scheppele, also Woodrow Wilson School, University Center for Human Values, Sociology

    Paul E. Starr, also Woodrow Wilson School

    Marta Tienda, also Woodrow Wilson School

    Frederick F. Wherry

    Robert J. Wuthnow

    Yu Xie, also Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies

    Viviana A. Zelizer

  • Associate Professor

    Elizabeth M. Armstrong, also Woodrow Wilson School

  • Assistant Professor

    Margaret T. Frye

    Adam M. Goldstein, also Woodrow Wilson School

    Tod G. Hamilton

    Ellis P. Monk, Jr.

    Brandon M. Stewart

    Janet A. Vertesi

  • Lecturer with Rank of Professor

    Alejandro Portes

  • Lecturer

    Carol Stack

Information and Departmental Plan of Study

Sociology at Princeton offers a cutting-edge undergraduate concentration for people interested in the social dimensions of politics, economics, history, psychology, and demography. The concentration encourages students to engage in cross-disciplinary thinking even as it provides a thorough grounding in a single field. Both quantitative and qualitative approaches to social science are utilized by our students and faculty. The best way to learn about the concentration is to hear our own students talk about their experiences in the department.

Princeton sociology graduates are admitted to the leading medical, law, and business schools; and they take jobs from Wall Street to social activism. Students concentrating in sociology are in increasing demand as corporations and governments want graduates with the conceptual and/or statistical tools to make sense of rapid social change and the recent explosion of digital data generated by the Web.

Department faculty do research and teaching on important topics of concern in the "real world," from social networks, immigration, and inequality to globalization, politics, and economic sociology.


Students are normally encouraged to complete one or more courses in sociology by the end of the sophomore year. Sociology 101 is highly recommended, though some concentrators take it after they have enrolled in the department.

Program of Study

Students are required to take a minimum of nine courses in sociology, including an upper limit of two cognate courses in other departments which must receive approval from Sociology in order to count toward the required nine. A "cognate" course is a Princeton class offered by another department that has substantial sociological content. All departmental courses or approved cognates that count toward the required nine must be taken for a grade and cannot be taken pass/D/fail. SOC 101, SOC 300, POL 345/SOC 305, and SOC 302 are requirements for the major. Collectively they are designed to help students carry out their junior and senior independent work. These courses expose students to the nature of sociological problems and theory, the logic of inquiry, the techniques of empirical investigation, and the elements of statistics. SOC 300 and POL 345/SOC 305 are usually taken in the fall of the junior year and are offered at that time to facilitate students who wish to study abroad in the spring. SOC 302 is normally offered in the spring.

Independent Work

Junior Independent Work. Juniors begin their independent work in the fall of their junior year, but the work is due at the end of the spring semester.

The junior paper is written with SOC 300 and POL 345/SOC 305 providing the basic research tools to formulate the project. Junior papers require students to conduct limited data analysis, whether of primary data (generated by students themselves) or secondary data (derived from existing data sources). In some cases, the junior paper becomes the foundation for the student's senior thesis. All junior papers are graded by a second reader, in addition to the major adviser.

Senior Independent Work. Senior independent work consists of completing a thesis that (a) explores the various theoretical approaches that have been used to explain a particular social phenomenon and (b) examines that phenomenon through extensive analysis of data, whether primary (generated by students themselves) or secondary (derived from existing data sources). Students whose thesis topics require advanced quantitative skills may acquire the necessary competence by enrolling in suitable statistics courses. Students who are contemplating collecting their own data may need the prior approval of the University's Institutional Review Board for Human Subjects.

Senior Departmental Examination

Each senior takes an oral examination based on the senior thesis and the broader subfield to which it contributes. A departmental committee conducts this examination in May.

Study Abroad

Sociology welcomes students with international interests who wish to study abroad for one or two semesters. The department makes every effort to accommodate these students by coordinating special arrangements for advising on independent work and by permitting them to take required courses out of sequence, either before or after the period of foreign study. Normally, two courses taken during a semester or a year abroad count as departmentals. Such courses will need preapproval from the departmental representative.

Undergraduate Departmental Committee. At the beginning of every year, an Undergraduate Student Advisory Committee is selected. This committee, consisting of equal numbers of junior and senior majors, advises the department on matters pertaining to curriculum, staffing, and requirements.

Research Facilities. The Social Science Reference Center, the Data and Statistical Services unit, and the Stokes Library provide facilities for study and research in the form of collections of books, journal articles, reports, microfilm, and electronic data. Staff members in these units are available to majors who are completing their independent work, looking for appropriate data sets to analyze, or seeking advice on where to find literature relevant to their research topics.