Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to know what I want to study before I declare a concentration in Social Studies?

You don’t need to know what you want to study to declare Social Studies, but you do need to be committed to actively shaping your undergraduate education and to working closely with your adviser to identify and pursue your academic interests. Our curriculum is sufficiently flexible that students can change their focus fields, if necessary, up to the beginning of their senior year. Our curriculum is also flexible enough to allow students to complete pre-medical requirements or to complete secondary fields in areas that are different from their focus fields.  

I’m a sophomore who is interested in Social Studies. What classes should I take?

Potential concentrators must enroll in Social Studies 10a, which is a prerequisite for applying to the concentration. Sophomores should take courses in economics and statistics, especially if they are planning to study abroad their junior year, and should continue to take social science courses in areas that interest them. 

Which courses automatically count in Social Studies?

Social Studies will count all courses in Anthropology, Economics, Government, History, and Sociology, as well as courses the General Education areas Ethical Reasoning, Societies of the World, and United States and the World, whether or not they are part of a student’s focus field in Social Studies.

Please note that for purposes of calculating honors we will include the grades in all courses you have taken that are acceptable for concentration credit, not just the courses you designate towards your plan of study or towards a specific concentration requirement.

What is a Focus Field? What is a Plan of Study?

A focus field is an interdisciplinary area of study chosen in the junior year and refined in the senior year; it should be associated with the student’s senior thesis topic. Students will be asked to submit an advisor-approved description of their focus field and their plan of study to the Social Studies Board of Instruction around October 1st of their junior year. The plan of study should include a minimum of four half-courses, normally drawn from at least two social science departments, and including at least one half-course on an historical topic.

Read moreWhat is a Focus Field? What is a Plan of Study?