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Sociology

The study of sociology encompasses the individual, groups, and society. The major or minor will become proficient in the understanding of social life — its characteristics, causes, and consequences. Sociology courses emphasize the understanding of social issues and the analysis of small-scale social interactions as well as large-scale social institutions. Learning objectives and assessment of learning are described in the Handout for Sociology Students, available in the department office. Internships are a recommended service learning component.

Graduates will have the knowledge and skills to apply the “sociological perspective” to their own lives and to the social environment of which they are a part. They will possess what C. Wright Mills called the “sociological imagination,” where they are able to see how their biography relates to the time in history in which they live. Socrates said “the unexamined life is not worth living.”  The sociological perspective is crucial for “the examined life,” a rich interior life in which one’s relationships to others and to social institutions are analyzed in this age of rapid social change.

Students will have the knowledge and ability to use sociological concepts creatively in analyzing and critically thinking about social phenomena. Graduates in sociology will have acquired a respect for and appreciation of the need for data, not only for public policy decisions, but for life decisions. Graduates will also have acquired sensitivity to people from various ethnic, religious, racial, economic backgrounds, and sexual identities and will see how prejudice and discrimination are socially created attitudes and behaviors. They will be able to critically analyze the news of the day as well as changes in the global economy and other major social institutions.

Graduates will have facility with computers, writing and research skills and appreciate ethical considerations. They will also acquire statistical skills necessary to gather, interpret, and analyze quantitative and qualitative data. These skills will allow them to participate in research projects, particularly those of survey research and program evaluation.

Faculty, Facilities, and Scholarships

The sociology faculty, all with PhDs, share a commitment to excellence in teaching. Our areas of special interest are as diverse as our offerings. The university’s computer facilities provide students with excellent opportunities for developing research skills. Students are also given the opportunity for direct field experience through the Applied Sociology Internship Program.

The department annually recognizes outstanding graduating students with the Robert Rankin Award. Other awards include the outstanding sociology Distance student, highest GPA in the major, and overall outstanding student are presented as well. Information is available from the undergraduate advisers or department chair.

Career Outlook

Sociologists work in industry, community programs, social services, and in the many federal and state programs focused on our society’s needs. Most PhD sociologists are college and university professors who are involved with both teaching and research.

Students graduating with a BA in Sociology offer their prospective employers skills in research and social analysis, as well as an understanding of our culturally diverse and changing society. A person with a master’s degree may teach at the community college level, and opportunities for applied sociologists exist in government and private industry as well. Sociologists trained in research methods, advanced statistics, and computer use will have the widest choice of jobs.