Sociology is the study of the social forces that influence human behavior. When studying sociology at Indiana University you gain a depth of understanding as to how various characteristics, such as class, race, gender, and religion, affect you and the society in which we live.
The Department of Sociology, part of the College of Arts and Sciences, is home to faculty recognized for both research excellence and a commitment to teaching. The department values a strong spirit of community and collegiality, qualities seen as central to its intellectual vitality.
Sociology offers courses that focus on work and the economy, health and medicine, schools, religion, mental illness, politics and government, race and ethnic relations, sexuality, criminal justice, and other topics. Areas of specialization range from cutting edge quantitative models and experimental designs to qualitative studies using ethnographic and historical materials.
In addition to learning sociological theory and research methods, you have multiple opportunities to engage in hands-on projects and fieldwork, gaining research skills that are valued by a broad range of employers.
The department also offers an interdisciplinary B.A. in Sociology and African American and African Diaspora Studies.
Three minors are available to students in other majors: a minor in Sociology, a minor in the Sociology of Work and Business, and a minor in Social Science and Medicine. The department also offers a Certificate in Social Research in Health and Medicine. Check your bulletin for more information about these options.
A good course to start the Sociology major is SOC-S 100 Introduction to Sociology. Not only is this a required course, but it will give you a glimpse into the concepts and methods sociologists use while also taking a closer look at the nature of contemporary American society.
The Department of Sociology offers a number of additional courses at the 100 and 200 level that may interest you as make progress in the major. These courses give you the opportunity to explore topics like Medicine in America, Understanding Social Data, Social Inequality, and Society and the Individual.
Tracks and concentrations
The department of Sociology does not offer any official tracks or concentrations. You do, however, have the option of focusing your electives in specialty areas. Possible unofficial concentrations include:
- Work, Business, Occupations
- Medical, Social Work, Counseling, Mental Illness
- Politics, Government, Law
- Criminal Justice, Deviant Behavior, Social Control
Contact the academic advisor to discuss these and other possibilities.
Upper level coursework
As you progress in the major, you take a series of required core courses in order to study sociological theory, research methods and statistics in depth:
- SOC-S 340 Social Theory
- SOC-S 370 Research Methods in Sociology
- SOC-S 371 Social Statistics
You are also required to take a 400-level capstone seminar. These seminars enable you to do advance study in a topic of interest while integrating ideas and methods from earlier coursework.
Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates
Your major represents about one quarter of your degree requirements. With the help of your academic advisor, you may be able to combine several areas of interest with additional majors, minors, or certificates.
Sociology majors often complement their major by completing majors, minors, or certificates in other disciplines, such as Anthropology, Criminal Justice, Economics, Gender Studies, Media, Political Science, Psychology, and Spanish.
- Enhance your major
Working with faculty
When pursuing a degree in Sociology, you have the opportunity to work with faculty who have expertise and experience in the field. Take advantage of office hours to talk with your instructors about your performance in class, the content of assignments, and how the course helps you work toward your goals.
The Sociology department offers a number of ways to enhance your major. You can work with a faculty sponsor as a research assistant, conduct research in the Sociology Lab, or serve as an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant (UTA). If you want to focus on a specialty area, you can take SOC-X 490 Individualized Readings in Sociology.
Honors are awarded to Sociology students who complete an honors thesis, typically during their junior or senior year. Students apply to the honors program in the spring semester prior to the year in which they will complete their thesis.
The honors thesis is an empirical paper of 20-30 pages, based on a study of research. It is completed during an honors seminar where you are required to give a formal presentation.
Undergraduate scholarships and awards
There are a number of opportunities to earn awards as a Sociology major, including:
- Ulysses Grant Weatherly Award for Best Undergraduate Paper
- Outstanding First or Second Year Sociology Major
- Outstanding Junior Sociology Major Award
Internships offer you a chance to develop both technical and transferable skills while making vital professional contacts with others in the field. Many students begin exploring internship opportunities, including overseas study programs with internships, as early as their freshman year.
It might be possible to work with a faculty sponsor and earn academic credit for an internship by enrolling in SOC-X 477 Field Experience in Sociology or ASCS-X 373 Internship: Theory into Practice. Ask your academic advisor about these opportunities.
Learn more about internships, including the possibility of receiving credit, through the Walter Center for Career Acheivement where you will find many resources for both domestic and international internships.
Foreign language study
As one of the premier institutions in the U.S. for the study of languages, IU Bloomington offers courses and resources in over 60 languages.
Sociology majors often select a language to broaden the locations they can choose from to study abroad, and to enhance their options for global careers.
Below is a sampling of language resources available to students at IU Bloomington:
- Arabic Flagship Program
- Center for Language Technology
- Chinese Flagship Program
- Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships
- IU Language Workshop
- Language Tables
- Project GO
- Russian Flagship Program
Study abroad is an important part of undergraduate education in our increasingly interconnected world. The College of Arts + Sciences hosts a variety of study abroad programs, some even featuring IU faculty, that might be right for you. Learn more about study abroad opportunities and locations through conversations with Sociology faculty, your academic advisor, and through the Office of Overseas Study.
Sociology students often pursue language study and other coursework in countries such as: Australia, England, Ghana, Israel, New Zealand, South Africa, and Spain. Study abroad gives you a depth of insight into culture and an understanding of sociology beyond that gained in a classroom. Additionally, students may pursue alternative overseas experiences, such as working abroad, volunteering, or independent travel.
All students with an interest in Sociology are encouraged to join WOKE, IU Sociology Club. WOKE aims both to encourage dialogue between students who take Sociology classes and to advocate for social change and diversity.
As a Sociology major, you may be invited to join Bloomington's chapter of Alpha Kappa Delta - The International Sociology Honor Society. Your membership in this honorary society opens up opportunities like grants for presenting at regional sociological meetings and networking with professionals in your feild.
Explore beINvolved to connect with any of the 750+ student organizations that already exist, or to start a new one.
There are numerous opportunities for volunteer engagement, allowing you to give back to the local community while developing useful job skills. The organizations below can help you connect with others from the university and beyond:
- American Red Cross
- Amethyst House
- Centerstone Research Institute
- College Mentors for Kids
- IU Corps
- Sociological Research Practicum
- Student Involvement & Leadership
- Middle Way House
- U Bring Change 2 Mind
Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and organizations.
The following are just a few of the professional organizations with interests in sociology:
- American Sociological Association
- Association for Applied & Clinical Sociology
- Indiana Academy of the Social Sciences
- Midwest Sociological Society
- North Central Sociological Association
- Build your skills
Through the major
The major in Sociology provides you with a set of skills and qualities that are relevant and transferable to many areas of study and work. These include:
- Cultural and Cross-Cultural Understanding: Understand how social forces influence human behavior and how variation in beliefs and behavior are influenced by social location
- Research: Utilize a variety of research methods and designs for data collection and analysis
- Data Interpretation: Learn statistical skills and interpret basic quantitative information and patterns
- Analytical Thinking: Analyze data using appropriate methods and paradigms of inquiry
- Critical Thinking: Evaluate the arguments of major theorists and compare and contrast the strengths and weaknesses of each
- Communication and Leadership: Inform and interact, both orally and in writing, with experts and non-specialists
Through a College of Arts and Sciences degree
Your coursework provides many opportunities to develop the following five foundational skills that will serve you well in every career path:
- Question critically
- Think logically
- Communicate clearly
- Act creatively
- Live ethically
These foundational skills will aid you in landing your first job and advancing professionally throughout your working life. Not only are these the skills that employers say they value most in the workplace, they provide the best preparation for lifelong success in a world of complexity, uncertainty, and change.
Skills desired by employers
Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers asks employers what skills and qualities they are looking for in recent college graduates.
The following are some of the most commonly desired attributes across many employment sectors:
- Problem-solving skills
- Ability to work in a team
- Written and verbal communication skills
- Leadership skills
- Strong work ethic
- Analytical and quantitative skills
- Ability to take Initiative
- Being detail oriented
- Demonstrating adaptability
- Technical skills relevant to the field
- Interpersonal skills
- Computer skills
- Organizational ability
As you explore various career fields, pay attention to specific job descriptions and requirements. If there are areas where your skills or knowledge are lacking, talk with your academic advisor and career coach about how you can develop in those areas while you are at Indiana University.
Your academic advisor and career coach can also help you find ways to strengthen and deepen the knowledge you already have, becoming more prepared for whatever path you select after your college career.
- Launch your career
Plan your search
The Walter Center for Career Achievement offers job search resources, career courses, job fairs, information about internships and full-time jobs, and help with social media networking through professional organizations. Get advice about how to write your resume, ask for letters of recommendation from faculty and workplace supervisors, and prepare for job interviews, too.
Explore and enroll in Career Communities to learn more about industries relevant to your interests. These offer unique information about each field, including alumni spotlights, opportunities and resources, and in-person events.
You might want to take a career course to help you maximize your time at IU. ASCS-Q296 College to Career II: Navigate Your Arts and Sciences Experience provides the opportunity for students to explore the relationship between their chosen field of study and life after graduation while developing a career and academic development plan for post-collegiate success.
The job market
The employment outlook is positive for students with a degree in sociology, partly due to the range of interest areas within the major. Because sociology is a study of social life, group interactions, and relationships among people, the skills and knowledge you will gain are of vital interest to businesses, governments, and other organizations.
Sociology majors take their education in many directions, whether moving directly into a career or going on to graduate or professional studies. As technological advancements make the world smaller, understanding new and old cultures is necessary for better working relationships across a wide range of professional fields.
Initial and long-term destinations for graduates include positions in employment sectors such as: human services, counseling, psychology, social work, medicine, college student personnel, higher education administration, planning, criminal justice, law, education, government, social science research, business, marketing, sales, environmental sociology, and other related fields.
Sociology majors can become human resource managers, consultants, social workers, probation officers, urban planners, anthropologists, data analysts, welfare advocates, and recreational therapists, among many other options.
Want to see where your fellow majors go right after graduating from IU? Check out the Walter Center’s First Destinations survey!
Need more ideas? The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career information about hundreds of occupations.
Post-graduate short-term experiences
The beginning of your post-graduate career might be an ideal time to explore an internship or other short-term experience through organizations such as these:
Fellowships for post-graduate study
Fellowships are temporary opportunities to conduct research, work in a field, or fund your education. Most opportunities can be found through universities, nonprofits, and government organizations.
Good resources for finding fellowship opportunities include:
- ASA Minority Fellowship Program
- Ford Foundation
- National Science Foundation
- Sociology Department Scholarships and Awards
Graduate and professional study
When applying to graduate or professional schools, you'll need letters of recommendation from faculty members who are familiar with your work. Make a practice of attending office hours early in your academic career to get to know your professors and discuss your options for advanced study in the field.
The Sociology B.A. degree will prepare you for entry into graduate programs in a wide variety of fields, such as applied archeology, counseling, education, law, public affairs, social work, and sociology. The Department of Sociology recently created a 4+1 Pathway for undergraduate students in an existing baccalaureate degree to deepen their knowledge of sociology and gain invaluable research skills while earning a M.A. degree.
With careful planning, and in consultation with the Health Professions and Prelaw Center, you could also prepare to enter law school, medical school, or other professional programs.
Students who pursue graduate studies in sociology have gone into careers with top academic and research institutions. Recent graduates have gone on to work at the Department of Child Services, Teach for America, The Project School, Indiana Prevention Resource Center, and the Center for Disease Control, among many other organizations.
Here are examples of other graduate programs offered at IU:
- Maurer School of Law
- O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs
- School of Public Health
- School of Social Work
- Transition to Teaching
The IU College of Arts and Sciences has thousands of active alumni. Check out the IU College Luminaries program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring alumni.
Join the Walter Center Success Network to remain in touch, network directly with College of Arts +Sciences Alumni, and let others know where your path takes you.
Is it for you?
The Department of Sociology attracts students from a variety of backgrounds and interests. They typically have some of the following qualities:
- Desire to discover, explore and understand the social nature of the world
- Interest in gaining a strong educational foundation that can lead to careers in various fields
- Curiosity regarding the things that shape human behavior
- Interest in participating in real-time, cutting edge research
- Appreciation of collegiality and a strong spirit of community
Contact the Sociology academic advisor to schedule an appointment to explore your options. Complete information about the requirements of the major can be found in the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.
- Department website
- Advisor email address