Sociology students participate in discussion

Why is there so much poverty in the United States? What makes for a stable family? Can you really be an “individual?” Why are U.S. prisons overcrowded? How do people experience aging in America? Why do women continue to earn less income than men for the same kinds of work?

Many of the questions that tantalize us are questions about people in groups. Sociology is the study of social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behavior.

Sociologist C. Wright Mills spoke of sociology as “the vivid awareness of the relationship between our private experience and the wider society.” This “awareness,” which is the result of sociological thinking and research, provides a unique perspective on the world — a perspective that emphasizes the connections between personal experience and the broader social system. [Citation from Mills, C. W. (1959). The Sociological Imagination.  London: Oxford University Press]

A sociology major prepares you to understand — as well as engage in — the rapidly changing and increasingly diverse social world in which we live. In doing so, it provides an important foundation to any career that involves working with people or in social settings.

Your course of study in the sociology major will be divided between required courses and electives. Our required courses are designed to cover the foundational material in sociology: an understanding of contemporary society, social theory, stratification of peoples and groups, and the techniques of social science research. Elective courses allow you to focus on key areas of specialization within the discipline and thus tailor your program of study to individual interests and/or career goals. Elective areas include:

  • Medical Sociology
  • Crime/Criminology
  • Human Services/Social Work
  • Aging and Gerontology
  • Race and Ethnicity
  • Families
  • Gender

All sociology courses are designed to foster critical thinking, problem-solving, research, writing, communication, and interpersonal skills. Often our elective courses enroll 15 students (or fewer), allowing for high levels of faculty-student contact and collaboration. Finally, students are encouraged to participate in a sociology internship, study abroad, or independent research during their course of study as an important step in career preparation.

Learn more about Sociology at Augustana.