Program Overview

As an HSS student, you will complete a total of 21 credits, most of which will be satisfied through your General Education or major/minor requirements.

The following serves as a general overview of the program. Each student’s experience will be individualized according to their interest, and we encourage all students who are thinking of applying to meet with the HSS director as early as possible to discuss the program requirements and how it could enhance your college experience.


Take HSS 200

HSS 200 (3 credits) is the prerequisite course for the HSS program and must be taken by all students interested in joining the program. It is open to any student with an interest in the social sciences and a strong academic record. The course provides a foundation in social science research and methodology. It emphasizes the diversity of approaches through which knowledge about society is produced.

Join HSS

After successfully completing HSS 200 (receiving a B+ or above), you may formally join the HSS program. Contact the program director for details.  Upon joining the HSS program, you must submit a minor concentration form declaring HSS as your minor.

Complete Thematic Courses

In consultation with the HSS program director, you will select a theme to guide your research interests and course selection. Themes can be general (“racism,” “gender roles,” etc…) or specific (e.g., “slavery in the antebellum South”). You will take four courses in at least two social science disciplines that relate to or inform this theme. These courses must be at the 200-level or above, with at least one at the 300-level or above. Courses that you have already taken that meet these criteria and are relevant to your chosen theme may be counted toward the thematic requirement.

Research with faculty advisor

In the semester before writing your thesis, you will take HSS 350 or an equivalent course with your thesis advisor. This course is designed for you to conduct independent research for your thesis project under the guidance of your advisor. The content of the course is determined entirely by your advisor. Departmental independent studies may substitute for HSS 350. In some cases, so too may labs and specialized seminars.

Thesis-writing colloquium

In your final semester as an undergraduate, you will enroll in HSS 390, the thesis-writing colloquium for HSS students. You and your peers will read and critique each other’s work. You will be taught the mechanics and structure of a thesis and adhere to a series of deadlines to ensure timely completion of your project.