Undergraduate Studies in sociology

Welcome

Welcome to the undergraduate program in sociology at the University of Louisville! If you are considering sociology as a major or minor but are not quite sure what to expect, here is some information to help you determine if sociology is right for you.

What is sociology?

Sociology is the study of social life and how social life affects attitudes, actions, and opportunities; it is also the study of diversity and inequality–significant ways in which people and groups differ, particularly in terms of social characteristics.  As such, it includes an examination of the important contributions various social groups have made to society, the barriers to their full participation in society, and the efforts they have made to achieve equality. An appreciation of the nature and consequences of diversity and inequality is essential for understanding social forces and social structures, as well as group processes and organizational dynamics and the way these affect individual life chances. By focusing on diversity and inequality, the Department of Sociology helps to advance a deeper, and often a counter-intuitive, understanding of inequality. Such an understanding is essential to the effective formulation and implementation of democratic social policy and is relevant to many careers.

What do sociologists do?

Sociologists study human behavior as it occurs in and is influenced by social groups, institutions, organizations, and societies, as well as by social conditions. For example, they examine ways in which social characteristics/categories (such as age, class, gender, race and ethnicity, sexuality) and social institutions (such as economics, education, family, media, politics, religion, sport) affect human attitudes, actions, and opportunities. Sociology is practiced in many careers, such as research, academia, business, law, social services, medicine, and government. (Psychology, on the other hand, is the study of individual behavior and mental processes. Psychologists focus on the behavior of individuals (alone or in groups) rather than the groups or aggregates themselves.)

Sociology students, then, are those intrigued by the challenging social issues pervading our world, how society affects and is affected by them, and how to effectuate change and address - through scientific research and application - these issues such that they can "make a difference" in the world.   As our world continuously evolves, sociologists are well prepared to offer insight into these changes and how best to accommodate them.  Sociology students pursue careers in: business, child welfare, computer industry, criminal justice, education (teaching, evaluation research, consultation, research), gerontology, health care, international relations, law, law enforcement, military, military intelligence, state or federal government, social service agencies, social work, and urban planning or management–and more.

What is the difference between sociology and social work?

Although sociology and social work are related fields, they differ in that the objective of the sociology program is to provide students with skills necessary to understand problems inherent in societal relationships and subsequently attempt to solve them. The objective of social work is to prepare students for careers in social and human services.

In other words, sociology is an academic discipline focuses on preparing students for inquiry into and research of various social issues, and social work is a professional activity that seeks to intervene in "the relationships between people and their environment in order to improve the quality of life for individuals, families, communities, or organizations" (UofL's Kent School of Social Work).

What can a student do with a degree in sociology?

Sociology students are those intrigued by the challenging social issues pervading our world, how society influences and is influenced by them, and how to encourage change. They learn how to address these issues through scientific research and application, and, as our world continuously evolves, sociology majors are well prepared to offer insight into these changes and how best to accommodate them.  Sociology majors are offered a rich environment within which to develop skills in critical thinking, analytic problem-solving, and communication that are required by employers and/or that prepare them for a range of graduate programs.

Given the training in research methods, statistics, and topical areas, employment opportunities for sociology majors are plentiful in: social service agencies; federal, state, and local governments; nonprofit organizations; and private enterprises. The emerging global economic order and the increased complexity of corporate cultures promise to open even more opportunities for our graduates. Some sociology majors help companies develop global marketing strategies, and others work to enhance the culture and organization of corporations.

Sociology students pursue careers in a variety of fields: business, child welfare, computer industry, criminal justice, education (teaching, evaluation research, consultation, research), gerontology, health care, international relations, law, law enforcement, leisure/recreation/sport, military/military intelligence, social work, and urban planning or management, and more.

To learn more about career opportunities for sociology students:

  • Visit the American Sociological Association's website on career resources and employment opportunities.  These sites are focused specifically on career opportunities for sociology students (undergraduates and graduates) - and remind students that sociology majors are well prepared to handle jobs in the 21st century.
  • Visit UofL's Career Development Center, which offers practical advice to both current students and alumni on how to develop a résumé, locate job opportunities, and prepare for an interview.  The Center's site also includes job postings for students to browse.
  • Visit CareerBuilder.com and enter "sociology" or "social sciences" in the "Job Title, Skills, or Company" search box.  In addition to searching for job opportunities, visitors can also create an account with CareerBuilder, upload their résumés, and receive job recommendations from the site.
  • Visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics at www.bls.gov to obtain salary trends for a variety of specific occupations.

If you would like to talk to the Director of Academic Services in the Department of Sociology at UofL about careers in sociology, please contact Dr. Jonetta Weber.  She can also connect you with some of the faculty in the department who would be happy to talk to you about specific careers in sociology.

 

How does a student decide if sociology is the right major?

Students should begin by asking themselves if they are interested in: different groups and how individuals and/or groups interact? learning about social problems/issues? developing social policies? helping people who are disadvantaged?

Students should then review both the course requirements for sociology majors or minors and discern whether or not they have a general interest in sociology courses.  The Department of Sociology’s focus on diversity and inequality is reflected in the courses that are offered, and some of the undergraduate electives we offer in sociology are below.  To see a full list of courses offered each term, visit the University's schedule of courses.

Application of Sociology: voluntarism

Cities/Communities:  urban sociology, rural sociology

Criminology:  criminology, social deviance, juvenile delinquency

Economy/Occupationsmoney, economics, and society, occupations and organizations

Medical Sociologymedicine, health and illness; the healthcare system

Social Institutions/Social Interests:  sociology of families, sociology of music, sociology of religion, sociology of sportsociology of educationpolitical sociology, sociology of leisure, animals and society

Social Problems/Issues:  race in the US; social problems, human sexuality, environmental sociology, aging, death/dyingsocial change, social stratification, race and ethnicity

Women's Studies:  sociology of gender; gender and work; sociology of women's health; gender, race, work, and welfare; Gender in the Middle East

What degrees in sociology are available at the University of Louisville?

The University of Louisville offers both a bachelor of arts and bachelor of science, as well as a minor in sociology.  For those interested in graduate studies, we also offer a master of arts in sociology and a doctor of philosophy in applied sociology.  If you have questions about any of these degrees, contact Dr. Jonetta Weber, Director of Academic Services for Sociology.  (The University of Louisville is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC).  For more information, visit www.louisville.edu/accreditation).

We hope to see you in a sociology class soon!