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Undergraduate Students

What is Sociology?

Sociology is the study of people, groups, and institutions; the discipline seeks to understand and account for the complexities of human interaction & patterns of social life. Sociology focuses on relations among organizations, classes, cultures, and social structures. Sociologists scientifically explore and analyze issues vital to our personal lives, communities, society, and the world. 

The study of sociology provides fascinating and distinctive perspectives, as the field offers a range of research techniques that can be applied to areas of social life such as crime and justice, family dynamics, race and ethnic relations, urban inequality, bioethics, welfare and education reform, and global issues of immigration, peace, and war. Because sociology addresses the most challenging issues of our time, it is a rapidly expanding field with broad implications.

Department Goals

The Department of Sociology at the University of Michigan is one of the premier sociology departments in the country. The undergraduate program and our renowned faculty aim to instruct students on the value of recognizing & understanding social differences and acquiring various ways of thinking critically about the world. Department goals for the undergraduate program:

  1. Assist students in gathering information about "societal questions" and answering them in systematic ways
  2. Instruct students in collecting & analyzing data and connecting findings to broader society
  3. Establish a balance between students understanding what research is, how to conduct it, and how to apply findings to societal issues 
  4. Offer engaged and experiential learning opportunities in the areas of community service & partnerships, dialog facilitation, and research projects

Major and Minor Options

  • Sociology Major
  • Sociology Major with sub-plan in Law, Justice, and Social Change 
  • Sociology Major with sub-plan in Sociology of Health & Medicine 
  • Sociology Major with sub-plan in Sociology & Social Work (MSW application option)
  • Law, Justice, and Social Change Minor
  • Sociology of Health & Medicine Minor

Sociology Course Sequence Structure

The Department of Sociology offers 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.