Department of Sociology


If you major in sociology, you will acquire a “toolbox” of essential skills and knowledge.  

First, you will learn how to ask and answer sociological questions.    You already know that “common sense” often doesn’t make sense, and sociology will help you to understand why so many people develop and cling to false beliefs.   You will learn how to gather and use evidence to evaluate many different kinds of claims, such as the origins of social, economic and political trends; why people act the way that they do, and what motivates them; the causes and consequences of social, political and economic change.   You will learn how to apply different theoretical perspectives to a question, phenomenon or issue and how to evaluate these different perspectives.   

This set of skills are the core skills of “critical thinking,” the most crucial skill for living and working in the chaos, change and challenge of the 21st century.  

Critical thinking skills are the skills that employers are most likely to say that they are seeking in an employee, but they are valuable for more than your job.   They also will help you be a more effective parent, build a stronger community, be more effective in your political activities, and cultivate enduring networks of friends and family.   You will be able to identify and analyze problems, explore and assess possible solutions, and know how to search for and evaluate relevant information and ideas.

Second, you will learn or improve your skills in observation, analytical reading, written and verbal communication, and collaboration.   You also will also be given many opportunities to improve your skill in self-reflection, as you will often be prompted to analyze your own values, beliefs and behaviors.    Finally, as you study the diverse cultures and subcultures of our globalized world, you will become increasingly culturally competent.    You will develop the skill of looking at the world through someone else’s eyes, making it possible for you to survive and thrive in an increasingly diverse and socially complex world.

According to a recent national survey of business and nonprofit leaders:  

Nearly all employers surveyed (93 percent) say that “a demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than [a candidate’s] undergraduate major.”

Even more (95 percent) say they prioritize hiring college graduates with skills that will help them contribute to innovation in the workplace.

About 95 percent of those surveyed also say it is important that those they hire demonstrate ethical judgment and integrity; intercultural skills; and the capacity for continued new learning.

More than 75 percent of those surveyed say they want more emphasis on five key areas including: critical thinking, complex problem solving, written and oral communication, and applied knowledge in real-world settings.

Third, you will master the core knowledge in the discipline of sociology as well as studying at least eight of its substantive subfields.     Elements of core knowledge will appear and re-appear in many of the sociology courses that you take.    Key sociological themes, theories and concepts are woven into the entire curriculum.    In individual substantive courses, you will learn how sociologists approach particular social issues or institutions such as food, family, sexuality, work and the economy, the environment, deviance and social control, health and illness, race and ethnicity, gender, and many more.    You will graduate with a broad understanding of how societies and their component parts develop and change as well as how (as sociologist C. Wright Mills said) “personal troubles” are connected to “public issues.”    


 Last Modified 11/17/15