Sociology Department Chair: M. Sheila Nelson

Sociology Faculty: Richard Albares, Jeffrey Kamakahi, James Makepeace, M. Sheila Nelson, Jessica O'Reilly

Sociology studies groups, the ways people behave in groups and how an individual's attitudes and actions are influenced by them. These groups include families, schools, religious associations, peer groups, political parties, and work organizations. Thus, sociologists are called on to interpret group conflicts, the assimilation (or non-assimilation) of new persons into a social system and the patterned behavior of people in organizations, to give just a few examples.

The discipline of sociology encompasses many of the particular interests and methods of the other social sciences and of some humanistic fields as well. In doing this, sociology does not replace those disciplines; rather it complements them. Sociology's goals are to chart the interconnections between the various realms of thought and conduct, to find the balance between social and individual components in personal identity and to locate the social origins of harmony and strife in every area of experience.

Sociologists work professionally as researchers, policy consultants, professors, technicians, advisors, and counselors in private organizations and governmental agencies. Sociology helps prepare students to work in a variety of fields such as public policy, social service, nonprofit organizations, law, community organizing, education, healthcare, counseling, human resources and corrections.


The Sociology Department utilizes a process of course-embedded assessment. Various departmental objectives are assessed through assignments given in the courses which have primary responsibility for those specific objectives. 


The sociology department offers a major in sociology and a concentration in family studies.

Major in Sociology (40 credits)
Required Courses:
111, 201, 204, 302, 396 and 20 additional credits in sociology.

Major in Sociology with a Concentration in Family Studies (48 credits)
Required Courses:
1. 111, 201, 204, 302, 329, 396
2. Choose 3: 229, 250, 319, 330, 351, 355
3. Choose 1: PSYC 360 or HIST 362
4. 2 additional Sociology electives

Minor (20 credits)

Required Courses:
111, 201, 204 and eight additional upper-division credits in sociology.

Courses (SOCI)

111 Introduction to Sociology. (4)
Systematic description and analysis of the creation and composition of groups; development of the sociological imagination as the key to understanding the interconnectedness of individuals, cultures and social institutions.

121 Introduction to Anthropology. (4)
The diversity of humankind across time and space, including culture, human evolution, cultural linguistics, and prehistoric and historic archaeology.

201 Social Statistics. (4)
Discussion of levels of measurement and their implications for analysis. descriptive and inferential statistics: hypothesis testing,  , point estimates, confidence intervals, bivariate correlation, two group testing, the General Linear Model (e.g., ANOVA and linear regression), and computerized analysis.

204 Contemporary Sociological Theory. (4)
Major 20th century American and European developments in the social sciences. Central ideas and assumptions of the founders of modern sociology, anthropology and psychology: Durkheim, Weber, Mead and Freud. A survey of recent schools of thought and a consideration of the social sciences in society.

229 Intimate Relationships. (4)
Friendships from childhood to adulthood; the development and maintenance of relationships; the impact of social forces on sexual behavior, dating, courtship and mate selection; challenges and issues in intimate relationships. Limited to First and Second Year Students.

250 Social Problems. (4)
This course provides an overview of the sociological study of social problems and issues, both in the United States and in global perspective. The course will examine the nature and causes of social problems as well as possible solutions. Theoretical and methodological perspectives used to analyze social problems will also be considered.

271 Individual Learning Project. (1-4)
Supervised reading or research at the lower-division level. Permission of department chair required. Consult department for applicability towards major requirements. Not available to first-year students.

302 Social Research Methods. (4)
Design and conduct of survey, observation, case study, evaluation and experimental research. Consideration of pertinent social and ethical issues. Students design/conduct research. Prerequisite: 201 or permission of instructor.

319 Sex and Gender. (4)
A survey of sociological knowledge about sex and gender as fundamental organizing principles of our social world.  Examines the interplay of sex, gender, and sexual orientation as they change over time and across cultures.  Critical analysis of what it means to live as a gendered, sexual being in today's society. 

329 Family and Society. (4)
Examines the historical development of the family as a social institution, the relationship between families and social class, interpersonal relationships within families, changes in family structure, and the impact of public policy on families. The exact topics covered may vary by instructor.

330 Family Violence. (4)
Analysis of incidence, causes and treatment of major forms of family violence. Includes abuse, neglect and exploitation in parent-child, courtship and marital relationships.

333 Sociology of Medicine and Health Care. (4)
Western medicinal practices and the organization of the health care system including medical education, health insurance,  problems of medical practice, hospital organization, health personnel, the doctor-patient relationship, alternative medicine, and death and dying. Alternate years.

334 Deviant Behavior. (4)
Definition, causes and theories of deviant behavior in the framework of social norms and institutions. Major deviant identities in American society. Prerequisite: 111.

335 Sociology of Religion. (4)
Sociological phenomena of religious expression. Role of religion in society. Sociology of denominational differences and religious communities.

337 Special Areas and Problems in Sociology. (4)
See official class schedule. Offered when needed.

338 World Populations. (4)
Analysis of population statistics, population dynamics, the use of socially constructed ways of classifying subgroups, projective models, and social policy. Some topics covered include: immigration policies; the "limits to growth" controversy, analysis of vital statistics. Alternate years.

340 Criminology and Corrections. (4)
Theoretical causes of criminal behavior. Strengths, limitations, and challenges to the effectiveness of police, judicial, and corrections systems in the U.S. Attention to the role of the media and cultural biases in analyzing the "crime problem." Course includes an optional Service Learning component.  Alternate years.

341 Urban Studies. (4)
An overview of the development of community forms and life-styles in central cities and suburbs. Disintegration and renewal. Competition and conflict over territory and services. Churches, schools, diversity, pressure groups and parties. Selected policy problems. Attention is paid to cultural, structural and ecological components of urban issues. Alternate years.

342 Social Psychology. (4)
Micro-sociological analysis of interaction in social settings. Varied topics considered with special emphasis upon research findings as illustrations of theories considered. Perspectives could include symbolic interactionism, ethnomethodology, dramaturgy, as well as some exercises in exchange theory and phenomenology.

351 Race and Ethnic Groups in the United States. (4)
The current situation of and issues concerning African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian-Americans, Jews and other races and ethnic groups.

353 Political Sociology. (4)
Political participation, power and ideology as expressed in political structures and processes. Voting, political parties, social movements.

355 Social Gerontology. (4)
Study of the later years of life from a life-course perspective which views aging as a life-long process. Exploration of how social institutions shape the process of aging in society, the role of social policy in defining old age and the impact of social forces on the aging process.

357 Sociology of Education. (4)
Examines the social factors affecting learning and educational processes. Considers the relationship between types of societies and systems of education and the rise of education as a social institution, the links between schools and social stratification, and the contribution of schools to the preservation of the social order. Prerequisite: 111.

367 Advanced Topics in Sociology. (4)
An in-depth examination of an area or issue that provides students with an opportunity to critically examine the sociological literature and to produce a scholarly research paper pertinent to the topic. Topics will vary depending on the instructor (see Class Schedule), but students will be expected to apply previously acquired sociological knowledge and skills to the content of the course. Prerequisites:  Sociology major and upper-division standing or permission of instructor.

371 Individual Learning Project. (1-4)
Supervised reading or research at the upper-division level. Permission of department chair and completion and/or concurrent registration of 12 credits within the department required. Consult department for applicability towards major requirements. Not available to first-year or second-year students.

396 Sociology Capstone. (4)
An integrative academic experience which engages majors in key debates and issues of concern to sociologists.   Preparation for the transition to graduate school and/or exploration of the applicability of sociology in the workplace. Students demonstrate mastery of core concepts, theoretical perspectives, and methods of the discipline through original research.  Emphasis placed on critical reading of scholarly journals and on student participation in sociological discourse. Topics determined by expertise of the faculty. Prerequisites: Sociology major and senior standing or consent of instructor. 

397 Internship. (1-8)
Supervised field work and experience in a variety of social, administrative and research settings. Subject to approval of faculty advisor and department chair and completion of the pre-internship seminar. S/U grading. No more than 4 credit hours may be applied to the major.

398 Honors Senior Essay, Research or Creative Project. (4)
Required for graduation with "Distinction in Sociology." Prerequisite: HONR 396 and approval of the department chair and director of the Honors Thesis program. For further information see HONR 398.