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Sociology

What is a Sociology major?

First, we should answer the question, what is sociology? Well, in short, sociology is the study of groups of people. More specifically, it is the study of human social actions, the social structures and functions of our society, and the way we as people interact in a given society. Some topics that many sociologists focus on are social class, social stratification, social policy, law, deviance and conformity, women and work, and many more. Some sociologists choose to study small groups, while others study larger entities like institutions, organizations, etc.

A sociology major is then a “program of study that retains enough flexibility to accommodate students with diverse career goals and plan. It ensures all students are trained in the main theoretical and methodological traditions of Sociology, yet permits considerable variations in students’ own area of specialization” (UCSC Sociology).

How can the major differ between different schools?

The Sociology major can differ between universities in their requirements to fulfill the major. For example, at the University of California, Santa Cruz, students interested in the sociology major must complete two of three lower division courses to declare the major, and have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better of those two courses. On the other hand, the University of California, Santa Barbara has four sections, and within each section there are courses to take. Only sections A, B, must have an average GPA of 2.3 or better. Once all sections are completed, a student has fulfilled the pre-major requirements and is qualified for admission to the sociology major but that does not mean that they are guaranteed admission to the full major.

This shows that every academic institution can be different in terms of its requirements, courses, or GPA for the sociology major. To give another example, Fresno State University assigns you which courses to take and does not require a minimum GPA.

In addition, it is important to note that the Bachelor of Arts in Sociology is different from the minor in Sociology. The difference is that the minor does not require as many courses as the complete major would. A major is the main field in which you want to specialize in, while a minor is a second field that you want to specialize in while you are working towards the major; sometimes students will choose a minor that will complement their major.

Are there any concentrations for this major?

Some universities and colleges have concentrations for some of their offered majors. Visit the school’s sociology webpage to see if concentrations are offered. Concentrations are areas of study that are of special interest to the student. It can range from many topics like race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, organizational behavior, and studies of women, to name a few. Concentrations are different than minors because they are found within the sociology major; it is a topic in sociology that a student would like to focus in. A minor can be any other study outside of the major, like politics of business management.

What are the transfer requirements?

If students are transferring into a four-year institution from a community college, certain classes can be transferred. Before taking the courses at the community college, make sure to see if the course satisfies the requirements at the four-year institution intended to attend. Most universities would suggest at least one introductory sociology course and one course in statistics as preparatory classes for their sociology major.

Why this major?

Many students choose this major because they want to understand the issues and problems in our society through a different view point. Because sociologists study different groups of people, they are able to see the issues in our society through a variety of diverse perspectives. They are interested in the social aspects of society that condition people’s lives, experiences, problems and possibilities. These students are able to use what they learn in the sociology courses and put them into perspective, think critically and abstractly, ask questions about the world around them, and help others develop awareness about the structures of our society.

Sociology addresses the societal challenges in our time, whether it is about the workplace, education systems, politics, or the legal system. It requires understanding different social inequalities within different groups, patterns of behavior, and what forces drive social change and resistance. Since sociology is a discipline that varies in range, students are attracted to the many opportunities of career paths that are available with this field. (Williamette University)

What are the best schools for this major?

According to CollegeCrunch.org, some of the schools that have the best sociology programs in the country are:

University of California, Berkeley

  • Why? “The Department of Sociology at UCB is held in high regard in the United States and around the world. Undergraduates at the University of California majoring in sociology will benefit enormously from the top ranked research center, the award winning faculty, and the comprehensive course offerings. The University studies and analyzes every corner of society from one end of the globe to the other and endeavors to impart the knowledge gained to their undergraduate and graduate students. Concentrations include gender, culture, poverty, states, stratification, women’s movements, sexuality, urban gangs, prisons, churches, poverty, and institutions. Sociology majors are required to complete an introductory course, statistics course and a research methods course. Additionally, students must complete two semesters in theory, three sociology core courses in various specializations, three upper level sociology electives and a seminar course. Students have the opportunity to achieve honors status through the completion of an honors thesis or by maintaining a 3.0 GPA and being invited to join the University of California chapter of Alpha Kappa Delta. The curriculum is designed to ensure undergraduate students achieve a firm command of sociological concepts and an in depth understanding of the field.” (Collegecrunch.org)

Harvard University

  • Why? “Students majoring in Sociology at Harvard are required to complete only six specific courses in the subject. Students have the opportunity to study a multitude of sociological specializations. The University boasts a faculty with expertise in many areas. The curriculum is designed to provide both theoretical foundations and practical applications of the learned material. Harvard requires sociology majors to complete certain requirements as well as offering optional electives to ensure undergraduates attain the skills and knowledge needed for the degree…The students learn research principals and study important social topics…The courses are offered in many areas of specialization. Students choose to concentrate in work, organizations, and management. Or they can study law, criminal justice and the community. Other areas include health medicine and society; inequality and social policy; and culture and social history. Numerous courses are offered under each section and provide substantial opportunity for the exploration of the social issues impacting the world.” (Collegecrunch.org)

New York University

  • Why? “The Department of Sociology at NYU offers their students a multifaceted program with limitless opportunities. The curriculum is designed to encourage students to engage in theoretical study, to become immersed in practical analysis, and to gain a deeper understanding of the pressing issues of the world in which they live. The faculty members are proclaimed experts in the diverse disciplines taught. A comprehensive curriculum has been developed for Sociology majors. Students majoring in the program will be required to complete an introductory course, a research methods course, statistics for social research, sociological theory, two advanced seminars, and three electives…” (Collegecrunch.org)

The University of Chicago

  • Why? “The University of Chicago’s Department of Sociology, founded in 1892, was the first sociology department in the United States and continues to be a pioneer in the field. The University studies cover the wide breadth of the field employing cutting edge methodologies and thorough examination of the discipline. The curriculum has been created in such a way to encourage the development of an integrated program; with the University supporting interdisciplinary study within the social science departments.

The completion of an introductory course in sociology is required prior to declaring a major in sociology. In order to successfully complete a degree in sociology, students must complete at least one course each in social theory, methodology and statistics. Seven additional courses in the social sciences fields are required; four of the seven must be in sociology. A senior seminar course must also be completed. Any student aspiring to graduate with honors must prepare an honors paper which requires registration in the BA honors paper course.” (Collegecrunch.org)

The University of Pennsylvania

  • Why? “Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania is centered on the inequity in treatment and access to resources between certain groups of people. The study is not limited to small groups; but examines the relationships between small groups and larger populations. The investigation is carried out using theory and empirical study. Through successful and consistent study performed by the students and faculty members, theories are tested, proven, and disproven. And through this process, new theories emerge… Undergraduate students have the option of selecting sociology as either a major or minor course of study. Those who major in sociology will be expected to complete an introductory course in sociology, one in sociological theory, both statistical and research methodology. Courses must be completed in specific areas of concentrations and several sociology courses in areas other than the chosen specialization. Students are required to develop an initial education plan for their major with an advisor to help guide their program.” (Collegecrunch.org)

University of California, Los Angeles

  • Why? “The UCLA sociology department is known for their work in ethnicity, nationalism, and international migration among several other areas of particular strength. Undergraduate students attending the school will benefit enormously from the extensive program opportunities offered at the University; one of the country’s foremost authorities in the field of sociology. In addition to the rewarding program, students will be taught by faculty members boasting receipt of some of the most prestigious awards in the field of sociology… Undergraduate students are required to complete certain courses prior to declaring a major in sociology. Students must earn a C or better in an introductory sociology class, a statistics course, a research methods class, and one of the three math courses designated as prerequisites to the program. After successful completion of these designated classes prior to the start of the junior year, students have the opportunity to commence their study in the field of sociology. Once in the major, undergraduates will need to complete eleven upper level sociology courses and four courses in related fields. Students also have the opportunity to participate in an internship as part of their curriculum.” (Collegecrunch.org)

Are there any special applications to get into this program?

Depending in the school that you are interested in attending for the sociology program, there may be a special application that you must fill out in order to be accepted in the program. If that is the case, make sure to read over the university or college sociology website carefully. There, you may find instructions if there is a separate application to fill (it can be either one for entry into the school, or another one for the individual program itself). Most schools however, only require one application for the entry in the university or college, and then once the prerequisite courses are taken, the student can declare sociology as their major. Sometimes schools require students to attend an orientation or workshop and have a cumulative GPA for the prerequisite classes before being eligible to declare the major.

What are potential fields after college in Sociology?

There are a variety of career fields that students pursue after graduating with a Bachelor of Art in Sociology. Some choose to study race and law within the sociology field, and have the career goal of being a lawyer or paralegal. Others who choose this major may like to do research and plan to work for an organization that requires a research assistant. The main career areas include business, health services, researcher, publishing or journalism, human services, corrections, colleges or universities, government, and education. To name a few in each field:

 

Colleges or Universities:

  • Admissions Counselor
  • Financial Aid Director
  • Professor

Corrections:

  • Parole Officer
  • Corrections Officer
  • Criminologist
  • Probation Officer

Government:

  • City Planner
  • Congressional Aid
  • Data Analyst
  • Public Administrator
  • Secret Service Agent
  • Social Welfare Examiner

Health Services:

  • Adoption Agent
  • Alcohol and Drug Case Worker
  • Career Counselor
  • Community Relations Director
  • Community Service Agency Administrator
  • Community Organizer
  • Youth Counselor
  • Family Guidance Counselor
  • Social Worker
  • Gerontologist
  • Marriage and Family Therapist

Publishing or Journalism:

  • Reporter
  • Editor
  • Writer/Author
  • News Correspondent

Business:

  • Administrative Assistant
  • Budget Analyst
  • Consumer Survey Advisor
  • Convention Organizer
  • Labor Relations Representative
  • Human Recourses Specialist
  • Sales Representative

Researcher:

  • Social Scientist
  • Research Assistant
  • Market Researcher
  • Demographic Assistant

Human Services:

  • Health Care Worker
  • Hospital Administrator
  • Medical Social Worker
  • Public Health Statistician
  • Rehabilitation Counselor

Education:

  • Elementary Teacher
  • High School Teacher
  • School Counselor
  • School Administrator

Why I pursued Sociology as my major?

The reason I chose sociology as my major is because I wanted to study something that could help me understand different parts of society. I wanted to learn about the different cultures, and what position they hold in our society, and if these cultures are affected positively or negatively. The real question I was looking to get answered was why, why are certain features in our society the way they are? Who made the structures this way? Why are there so many injustices in certain communities? Through many classes, I learned why the workplace in our society is still unjust between women and men pay rates, I learned why race plays a huge role in our society and how theories have reflected these roles, and why disenfranchised communities do not hold the same accessibilities as other communities. The classes I have taken have allowed me to think outside of myself and my surroundings in order to understand the bigger picture of the structures of our society. I needed to learn as much as I could about groups of people because I want to pursue a graduate program to be a social worker. It is essential to understand different groups of people and communities in order to find ways that cater to their needs. I can honestly say that I enjoyed all aspects of the sociology major, and I’m sure you will too.