Area of Study Guidelines: Social Science (formerly known as Social Theory, Social Structure and Change) for Students Matriculated Before Jan. 1, 2014 Policy

Area of Study Guidelines: Social Science (formerly known as Social Theory, Social Structure and Change) for Students Matriculated Before Jan. 1, 2014 Policy


Academic Affairs


Vice Provost





Effective Date:


Implementation History:



Area of study guidelines; Social Theory, Social Structure and Change; Social Science

Background Information:


To provide context for the area of study guidelines for area of study Social Science (Social Theory, Structure and Change).


Area of Study Guidelines: This set of guidelines helps students plan their degree plans by spelling out what the academic world and many employers understand a particular concentration to mean. The guidelines are found in many academic publications.

Disciplinary — A program of study guided by the existing framework of a discipline.

Interdisciplinary — The simultaneous and interrelated study of two or more disciplines.

Problem Oriented — A program of study organized around a problem.

Professional/Vocational — A study which focuses on acquiring knowledge and skills needed for specific career performance and applications. It also entails inquiry into the conceptual foundations of the profession, the role of the professional in that career, and the relations between the profession and society at large.

Thematic — A program of study focusing on a particular theme or set of ideas.


Social Science (formerly known as Social Theory, Social Structure and Change) encompasses a variety of academic disciplines. Students who choose to develop a concentration in this area explore theories, methods and problems addressed by such fields as sociology, political science and anthropology. Students may choose to work within the boundaries of a single academic discipline or may engage in a study which crosses disciplinary lines, such as criminal justice. Concentrations in areas such as women’s studies, communications, ethnic studies and African-American studies which necessarily rely upon a dominantly social (rather than literary, artistic, historical or psychological) perspective also belong in this area of study.

In formulating their degree programs, students should address the following developmental goals which define the aims of study in this area. Concentrations in Social Science (Social Theory, Social Structure and Change) should be planned to develop:

  • a broad social perspective. Students should be familiar with institutions, systems of belief, cultural patterns, or political and economic structures of society and how these are interrelated.
  • a historical perspective. Students should be able to locate social issues within a historical context, and appreciate the forces which bring about change in values, ideas, customs, institutions, or political and economic systems.
  • a comparative perspective. Students should examine the similarities and differences between one set of social rules, institutions, mores, political or economic structures and others of the same or different times, places, cultures, nations and states. Students should be able to address themselves to the causes of such differences or similarities and to evaluate their significance. A comparative perspective also includes understanding of race, class and gender within social groups.
  • a theoretical perspective. Students should be able to identify, understand and use general theories and conceptual schemes to define and approach their chosen topics, questions or problems.
  • critical ability. Students should learn to analyze, criticize and evaluate key concepts, assumptions and theories of their particular field of study. This requires development of writing abilities and research skills appropriate to their interests.

Students may meet these objectives in many ways; these may include thematic, issue or problem-oriented studies which need not be focused on a single objective, but can respond to a number of the aims described above. In order to assist those faculty who review the programs, students should describe their research and thinking concerning their concentration studies in regard to these objectives in their degree program rationales.

Students who plan disciplinary approaches to fields within this area of study will be expected to be aware of the standard expectations for academic study within that field.

Applicable Legislation and Regulations

Related References, Policies, Procedures, Forms and Appendices

Introduction to the Area of Study Guidelines

Social Science for Students Matriculated After Jan. 1, 2014

College Learning Goals Policy