How to become a STSC major:
- Download and complete the STSC application attached below (make sure you choose a submajor).
- Meet with your Pre-Major advisor or a College advisor and get STSC worksheet made official (Note: This is not the same as declaring the major.)
- Read the website page “STSC Requirements.”
- Meet in person with Dr. Benson (STSC Chair) or Dr. Greene (Associate Director) in order to submit your application (ADVISING HOURS)
FAQs for Pre-Majors
What can I do with an STSC major?
What can’t you do? Read "What STSC Graduates Do." They do everything. What do YOU want to do?
What courses are recommended for me to take to explore the STSC Major?
Many of our introductory level courses will help you explore the major. Freshmen are urged to consider one of our freshman seminars offered by the department. Other courses that are excellent ways to explore the major include STSC 001 (Emergence of Modern Science) STSC 003 (Technology and Society) STSC 160 (Information Age) STSC 168 (Environment and Society) STSC 002 (Medicine in History, also HSOC 002). See the Courses link at the top of this site.
What is a submajor?
A submajor is an interest area. There are five STSC submajors each reflecting a different pathway within the larger field of STS. Each submajor consists of four courses, and students select courses that all relate to their topic, question or interest.
- Biotechnology and Biomedicine
- Energy and Environment
- Global Science and Technology
- Information and Organizations
What if I find a course or courses that I think should be part of my submajor, but which are not on the list of pre-approved courses?
You may request to include a course or courses into your submajor other than the pre-approved ones, if you can show, and the program directors concur, that the course (or courses) are related to Science, Technology & Society and make a meaningful contribution to your intellectual agenda within the STSC major. Courses cannot be requested to substitute for core requirements or department courses.
NOTE: The lists of pre-approved courses for each submajor do change over time as courses are added and dropped. Courses that are on the pre-approved list when a student becomes an STSC major will always apply even if the course is later taken off the list. Courses from old lists do not apply to new majors.
How do I become a Science, Technology & Society major?
Scroll to the top of this page.
What specific courses will I need to fulfill core requirements?
You must take STSC 001 or STSC 003, and one of the following: STSC 160, 168, 208 or 212, but no particular order is required.
What is a department course?
A course taught by standing faculty in the department. See the list of "department courses" for the courses that fulfill the 7 credits of department courses required for the major.
What if I am not ready to declare a major but have questions about STSC?
Talk to the STSC chair, or to the Associate Director for STSC; their office hours and contact information is under "Advising."
What does it mean to be on "registration hold?"
Any sophomore who has not declared a major by the time of Advanced Registration in the spring is put on registration hold by the College until they do declare a major. This means that they cannot register for courses. As soon as sophomores declare a major, they are removed from registration hold (unless they are on hold for other reasons).
Can I double-major in STSC and something else?
However, it means completing two sets of requirements, so careful planning is required. You must have 18 credits between the two majors that are not double-counted.
It is important to remember that it is not necessary to double major! What is most important is that you get the most out of your primary major and out of your undergraduate education, and that you do not sacrifice your educational journey to the challenges of fulfilling two sets of major requirements. Once you have graduated, double-majoring will matter little, but the quality, coherence and depth of your major will matter a lot.
Can I minor in STSC?
Yes. (But not if you are an STSC major!) See the STSC Minor page.
Can I study abroad if I am an STSC major?
Yes. We encourage STSC majors to plan a semester abroad, and many do. Credits from study abroad are applied to the submajor, with a limit of 2 c.u. Check both the College study abroad website and the Penn Abroad website for more information. Courses taken abroad are submitted through the XCat system, and evaluated for credit by Dr. Bensonl and Dr. Greene
What if I am a transfer student? How do I get credit for courses taken at another school?
Go to the section on transfer students on the College website for information. Transfer courses must be submitted via the XCat system. Credits from other institutions may be counted toward the HSOC major based on the evaluation of the Director and Associate Director.
Can AP credits count toward the STSC major?
Can I get transfer credit for a summer course at another university?
Read the section about "credit away" on the College website. If you wish to take a course at another university to count for STSC, you must submit your request through XCat for evaluation.
Do LPS courses (courses offered through the College of Liberal and Professional Studies) count toward the STSC major?
Yes--if the course would count toward the major if offered in the College, then it counts if offered in LPS.
Can I take more STSC courses than the major requires?
Yes. You may take as many STSC courses as you wish.
Can I do independent study projects as part of the STSC major?
Yes. Visit the independent study page and read about our two levels of independent study, STSC 299 and STSC 499.
Is research an important part of the STSC major?
Yes. All STSC majors take a research seminar in the spring of junior year or fall of senior year to fulfill their Capstone Research Requirement. Some may wish to continue and write a senior thesis for honors during the first half of the senior year. STSC majors are encouraged to explore other opportunities for research, such as internships and publication. See the College website for research opportunities and for College policy on internships, and also the CURF website.
What is the Capstone Research Requirement?
This is a requirement that you take a 400-level HSOC or STSC course during spring of junior year or fall and spring terms of senior year. The only courses that count for the capstone requirement are 400-level courses taken during one of these three semesters. Courses taken before these three semesters do not fulfill the requirement.
Visit the Capstone page for more information.
What if I want to write a senior thesis- what are the requirements for graduating with honors in STSC?
To graduate with honors, an STSC major enroll in STSC 400 during spring of junior year, research and write over the summer, and complete the senior thesis during the fall of senior year. See the Senior Thesis page for department requirements. The senior thesis process begins in fall of your junior year as you formulate a tentative project and talk with potential advisors.
How do I participate in STSC events and meet other majors?
Become involved with the STSC UAB and help plan undergraduate events, and join the board of Momentum, the digital journal for STSC.