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Undergraduate Students

What is Sociology?

The Sociology major will provide you with the tools you need to understand today’s most vexing social problems. From inequality to immigration, from poverty to mass incarceration, Sociology teaches skills for thinking critically, collecting and interpreting data, and making evidence-based arguments. Sociology is the study of the social causes and consequences of human behavior.

Sociologists study a wide range of subjects: the family, education, health, sex, race, religion, law, crime, poverty, inequality, immigration, rights, labor, organizations, globalization, and much more.  This broad scope gives Sociology majors a unique opportunity to study many aspects of social life.  In addition, Sociologists adopt a variety of social science methods to collect and examine empirical data critically and rigorously, including quantitative data analysis, survey research, content analysis of written and visual materials, in-depth interviews, ethnography, and historical analysis.

Department Goals:

To instruct students about the value of recognizing and understanding social difference (citizenship, diversity, etc.) and to help them acquire different ways of thinking about the world (doing work to understand and/or change it).

  1. To instruct students in analyzing and collecting data and connecting findings to the broader society.
  2. To assist students in gathering information about "societal questions" and seek to answer them in systematic ways.
  3. To establish a balance between having students understand what research is, how to do it and how to use it.

Sociology Course Sequence Structure

In order to achieve the goals of the Undergraduate Program, the Department of Sociology offers a sequence of courses structured in the following manner:

  • 100-level courses explore the meaning and significance of social differences and social processes, and why these are important social properties.  These courses introduce the central terms, issues, and debates in the discipline, why and how they came into being, and how they are used.
  • 200-level courses engage students in sociological issues through experiential learning and dialogue-intensive courses, and courses that inform about the sociological relevance to various social issues and concerns.  These courses also provide initial insight into how the discipline may be relevant for further study and for the pursuit of careers and other life goals.
  • 300-level courses emphasize the teaching of data interpretation, sociological claim-making, and the construction of sociological arguments (understanding tables, creating tables, etc.).  These courses also provide opportunities for more extensive writing in the discipline.
  • 400-level courses offer more intensive instruction about data interpretation, sociological claim-making, and the construction of sociological arguments.  These courses may also provide capstone experiences and opportunities to produce a research paper or engage research experience in a substantive manner