Sociology studies virtually every aspect of human society: the family, gender, race and ethnic relations, aging, education, work, population, and many others. Its principle goal as a discipline is to understand the workings of human society and to explain social behavior. Although sociologists do study what are commonly regarded as social problems—crime, drug addiction, and poverty, for example—they also examine fundamental social processes present in any society: social change, confl ict, and inequality. Sociology is less concerned with fi nding practical solutions to social problems than with achieving a fundamental understanding of the social world.
The sociology major requires a minimum of ten courses including one introductory sociology course; SOCIOL 211: Data Collection and Analysis; SOCIOL 212: Elementary Statistics; and SOCIOL 401: Theory and Writing in Sociology. Students also complete at least four sociology courses at the 200 level or above in one of the following areas of concentration: criminal justice (additional requirements apply to this concentration, see description below); social service; social inequality and diversity; and culture, organizations, and institutions. Finally students complete at least two other sociology courses at the 200 level or above.
The department sponsors two interdisciplinary programs that lead to letters: one in criminal justice and one in social work/social welfare. Participation in these programs is open to majors and non-majors alike. In addition, the department sponsors a certifi cate in population studies. The criminal justice program is intended for majors or minors interested in working in the criminal justice system. It offers guidance through available course offerings in criminology, deviance, and delinquency. This program can be used to meet the partial concentration requirements of the sociology major and the full requirements of the sociology minor. The social welfare/social work program offers a letter in social welfare/social work to students interested in jobs or graduate work in social service or social policy.
A minor in sociology is available.
Contact the departmental honors coordinator for information on how to pursue honors opportunities within the major.
Internships and Study Abroad
Sociology encourages students to gain as much practical experience as possible through internships, practica, and Community Service Learning.
Majors may choose to study abroad if it supports their academic and career goals. Students should contact the International Programs Office (413-545-2710) and work closely with their academic advisor to choose the appropriate courses in preparation.
Studying sociology is a good way to obtain a well-rounded, liberal arts education. Although the major does not provide vocational training, its concentrations offer good preparation for entry-level jobs or graduate study. Students interested in social work at the individual or community level could profitably concentrate in social service. Courses related to criminal justice provide good background for careers in various aspects of law enforcement. The social inequality and diversity concentration is useful to students considering a job in teaching or in human resources, as well as those eager to foster social change. The certificate in population studies prepares students for jobs and graduate study in the fi eld of demography. Finally, courses in culture, organizations, and institutions offer an excellent introduction to American society and to graduate work in sociology.
Department of Sociology
712 Thompson Hall
Undergraduate Academic Advisor: Christin Glodek,
720 Thompson Hall, 413.545.4056
Take me to the research arm of the Department of Sociology, the Social and Demographic Research Institute (SADRI)