“There is no better way to understand the sociological notion of culture intellectually than to have first-hand experience with cultures other than your own.”
– Keith Farrington, Peterson Endowed Chair of Social Sciences

Off-Campus Studies Mission Statement

Off-Campus Studies at Whitman College aims to develop in our students intercultural skills and global understanding for a lifetime of leadership.  We endeavor to achieve this goal by:

  • Providing off-campus study opportunities worldwide that offer high-quality academic content, instruction and evaluation.
  • Expanding learning opportunities for students and integrating the learning off-campus into their academic program to the fullest extent possible.
  • Promoting programs that increase a student’s foreign language and intercultural fluency.
  • Offering programs that foster an ability to question assumptions and think critically in the context of other worldviews.
  • Ensuring that programs are well integrated into the host community and encourage immersion of the student into the host culture. 
  • Developing the means by which returning students can actively contribute to international awareness and programming on campus, as well as in the Walla Walla community.

Off-Campus Studies can help Sociology students…

  • Gain primary research skills from field studies or work with primary sources
  • Develop a  global perspective
  • Gain awareness of the major discipline from a different scholarly tradition
  • Expand cross-cultural communication and problem-solving skills
  • Prepare for an increasingly diverse and international workplace
  • Improve foreign language skills

What are the types of OCS programs recommended by the Sociology department?

  • Direct enrollment in a foreign university with local students
  • Field study program with opportunities to engage in independent or collaborative research with the local community
  • Program that offers an opportunity for an internship or community-based learning embedded in an academic course as part of an off-campus studies program in the U.S. or overseas

How does a semester or year of OCS help students in Sociology prepare for graduate school or various career opportunities? 

  • Off-Campus studies allows students to become involved in either a major research project of some kind and/or a focused internship.  In both of these cases, the student is able to apply the concepts and textbook principles of the discipline to a real-life, applied setting.
  • Foreign language skills and intercultural understanding developed during off-campus studies can increase opportunities to work with diverse populations in the work place.
  • Off-Campus studies helps students develop a comparative perspective based on immersion and appreciation of another culture and/or a different setting (e.g. U.S. urban environment).

Which requirements can Sociology majors fulfill while off campus?

  • Elective major credit
  • Research and/or experience that can help students develop ideas for senior thesis
  • General Studies distribution credit
  • General degree credit

Planning Tips

As a general rule of thumb, the Sociology Department recommends the following for students who wish to study off campus.

Sociology majors who wish to study off campus should take SOC 117 Principles of Sociology in their first or second year.

  • The following required courses for the major should be taken at Whitman
    • SOC 117 Principles of Sociology
    • SOCS 207 Social Research Methods
    • SOC 367 History of Sociological Theory
    • SOC 490 Current Issues in Sociology
    • SOC 492 Thesis or SOC 498 Honors Thesis
  • SOC 207 Social Research Methods and SOC 367 History of Sociological Theory (required classes) are offered only in the fall semester, so that makes off-campus study in the spring semester somewhat more convenient for many students.
  • Environmental Studies-Sociology majors should consult the OCS Advising Sheet for ES Majors and their major advisers.

Credit Limitations

The maximum number of credits that can be applied to the Sociology major from off campus studies (including credits from other U.S. institutions) is 8 credits with the approval of your sociology major adviser.

Which Partner Programs are recommended by the Sociology department?

Many off-campus programs offer sociology and sociology-related coursework.  Therefore, sociology majors can choose from a wide range of OCS Partner Programs depending on their academic goals and which cultures/societies they wish to learn about.  In particular, the department recommends that majors consider the following options:

  • The Philadelphia Center (TPC), USA
  • AU Washington Semester, USA
  • DIS Denmark Institute for Study Abroad (Copenhagen, Denmark)
  • Programs in Latin America and Spain that enhance Spanish language skills

Advising Support

Students interested in Off-Campus Studies should attend an OCS First Step meeting in the fall of their second year, discuss their interests with their major adviser, and schedule an appointment with an OCS adviser.