Undergraduate studies in Sociology

Welcome to the undergraduate program in sociology at the University of Louisville!

If you are considering sociology as a major or minor, the following information can help determine if sociology is right for you. If you have already decided to declare your major or minor in sociology, move to the section on "How do I become a sociology major or minor" below. Finally, if you are already and major or minor and wish to learn more about advising, registration, etc., click here.

What sociology degrees (and minors) are available?

The Department of Sociology offers both the bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees in sociology - and students have the option of completing either the BA or BS degree entirely online.  Additionally, we offer four minors.

BA sociology BA online BS sociology  Minor in sociology Minor in sociology HMW minor SoC minor
BA in sociology Online BA in sociology BS in sociology Online BS in sociology Minor in sociology Minor in diversity and inequality Minor in health,
medicine and well-being
Minor in sociology of culture

 Click here for full list of A&S degree programs - and detailed information about each program.

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 behavior, 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:

 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.   

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.  Some of the undergraduate electives we regularly offer in sociology are below, and students can find course descriptions for any of these courses here.  (To see a full list of courses offered each term, visit the University's schedule of courses.)

  • Community Engagement:  community engagement
  • Intersectionality:  gender in the Middle Eastgender and work, immigrants and identity, race in the US, race and ethnicity, social stratification, sociology of disabilities, sociology of gender, sociology of human sexuality, sociology of women's health 
  • Health, Medicine, and Well-Being:  medical sociology, mental health and illness, sociology of disabilities, sociology of health and illness, sociology of women's health, the healthcare system
  • Social Issues and Institutions: aging, animals and society, criminology, environmental sociology, deviant behavior, Japanese Families, money, economics, and society, social problems, sociology of death and dying, sociology of education, sociology of familiessociology of food, sociology of leisure, urban sociology, U.S. holidays

How do I become a sociology major or minor?

All students must officially declare their major in sociology in order to pursue an undergraduate degree in sociology. Students may declare their major (or minor) by submitting the online Application for Major/Minor form.  Students who have already declared a major in another college (e.g., Business, Education, Music, Social Work, Speed, etc.) and wish to switch to a major in sociology should complete the "Change Major Request" form now available in ULink (under the "Registration" heading).

Admission to the major or minor in sociology requires: (1) completion of SOC 301 Social Statistics (or approved equivalent) with a grade of C or better, (2) a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0, and (3) a minimum GPA of 2.0 in any sociology courses taken prior to the time of application.  Once a student has been approved by the Arts & Sciences Advising Center as a sociology major or minor, A&S Advising will forward the student's file to the Department of Sociology, after which the student will receive a formal letter of welcome from Dr. Jonetta Weber, Coordinator of Academic Services and undergraduate advisor. Once the student has received this letter from Dr. Weber, the student may contact her to schedule an advising appointment.

While sociology majors and minors are not required to see an advisor each semester for approval of their course schedules, they are encouraged to contact the advisor with questions or concerns. Meeting with an advisor can ensure the appropriate selection of courses and provide an opportunity to discuss any problems.

NOTE:  To be eligible to graduate with a bachelor's in sociology, students must have (a) earned the minimum total hours required for their degree; (b) earned at least 50 credit hours at the 300+ level; and (c) earned a 2.0 GPA in sociology and a 2.0 overall.  Students must also complete an exit exam on Blackboard (covering general information from the core courses in sociology) for department assessment purposes as part of their graduation requirements. Students will be notified by Dr. Weber mid-semester of their last semester about the specifics of this requirement.

How do I pursue a senior honors thesis?

A student interested in pursuing a senior honors thesis in sociology should visit the Honors Program website for eligibility and procedural requirements.  Once a student has determined eligibility, he/she should contact Dr. Jonetta Weber who will assist in identifying an appropriate sociology faculty member to supervise the thesis.

During the semester in which the student plans to conduct the thesis research/writing, he/she must register for SOC 498 or 499. SOC 498 is a one-credit hour course which should be taken only if the student has already completed some work toward what will become their thesis project. For example, a student who wrote a lengthy research paper in a 400-level sociology class and wishes to expand on that paper for a thesis project would take SOC 498. However, if a student has done no prior work related to the thesis project, he/she should register for SOC 499.

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

For those interested in graduate studies, we also offer a master of arts in sociology and a doctor of philosophy in applied sociology. Students interested in pursuing both their master's and doctoral degrees in sociology at UofL can apply jointly to the programs, allowing them to move directly into the PhD program (without additional application) upon completion of the master's degree.

How can I learn more?

If you have questions about any of these degrees, contact Dr. Jonetta Weber, Coordinator 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!