Department of Sociology

Sociology is an essential component of a liberal arts education.  You're going to have to make a life in society, right?   So, you have a tremendous advantage if you know the basics of how societies -- including this one -- shape the lives of those inside them.   Sociologists also study how people come together to change societies, so you will develop a basic understanding of where, when and how you can make a difference.

The Sociology major provides a solid background for graduate study in sociology and other liberal arts disciplines, such as anthropology, political science, comparative studies, communication and media studies, as well as for professional degrees in law, criminal justice, social work and business. Furthermore, students in sociology gain methodological and analytical skills that will enable them to pursue a wide range of career opportunities in such fields as human services, government and business.   Sociological research appears in all kinds of fields, from family law to public health.    To get an idea of what sociologists do in their research, you might want to look at Contexts, the American Sociological Association's answer to Psychology Today.   As its title suggests, Contexts wants to demonstrate the importance of putting individuals into a larger social context:   as sociologist C. Wright Mills once put, the heart of sociology is seeing "private troubles" as "public issues."

What do you do with a major in sociology?   People who major in sociology take a broad range of career path, as we can see by looking at sociology majors like Dan Ackroyd, Michelle Obama to Alonzo Mourning.   Sociology majors are often drawn to careers that help people and change society, as were the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesse Jackson, both sociology majors.  FAU's Career Development Center illustrates the breadth of sociology-based jobs in the "what can you do with a degree in sociology" post on its website, and you will see that many of the jobs listed there are in jobs in the social and human services as well as in organizations involved in political and social change.

Sociology and the other liberal arts are often great preparations for success in business, too.    This 2012 article from Business Insider illustrates the point that critical thinking skills -- as polished in the liberal arts -- are a great starting point for many career paths.   Christopher Connor, CEO of Sherwin Williams, illustrates the path from sociology to the corner office.   According to a 2015 article in the Washington Post, a study that used the resources of Linkedin founds that high-tech companies are hiring lots of liberal arts majors.   "'The philosophy behind liberal arts, which encourages diversity of skills and flexible critical thinking, transfers to the workplace in various forms,' LinkedIn wrote in a blog post summarizing its study."   As a recent Forbes article put it, "Throughout the major U.S. tech hubs, whether Silicon Valley or Seattle, Boston or Austin, Tex.,  software companies are discovering that liberal arts thinking makes them stronger."

Many sociology majors go on to law school.   As the American Bar Association says, "The ABA does not recommend any undergraduate majors or group of courses to prepare for a legal education. Students are admitted to law school from almost every academic discipline."  So, the bottom line is that sociology is the pathway to many different kinds of careers. 

So, sociology as a major can lead in many different directions.   And, as sociologist Karen Sternheimer explains, sociology is often a great part of a double major:

Want to be a doctor? Understanding the social side of medicine is vitally important. For instance, how socio-economic status impacts health outcomes, gender and health, and how workplace stress can create health problems are just a few things you might learn in a sociology course.

Thinking about counseling or social work? Besides learning about individual psychopathology, understanding the importance of social interactions and the broader context of navigating the world based on gender, race, and class are important to understand clients’ realities.

Going into law? Learning about changes in family structure, marriage, and divorce are important in the practice of family law. Civil rights attorneys, immigration lawyers, and those focusing on the workplace will benefit from related sociology courses.

For people not planning to go on to earn an advanced degree, sociology pairs nicely with many other majors. Education majors will benefit from courses on how inequality may impact student achievement, as well as learning more about peer interaction in groups. Business majors benefit from learning more about diversity and managing workers in diverse settings; sociologists also study groups and organizations, as well as the sociology of work.

With so many options, it's easy to see why sociology attracts so many majors.

Sociology is a very flexible major, so it is easy to plan a course of study that ensures that you graduate on time.   Students entering FAU as freshmen must meet the University’s core curriculum/four-year degree program requirements as listed in the Degree Requirements section of the catalog that was in effect during the year that they started at FAU.   Check out the sociology major's flight plan to see the best way to stay on track for timely graduation.   

Students entering FAU after completing their associate's degree at one of the Florida state colleges can enter the major directly. If you have never taken introductory sociology, you might consider doing so after you come to FAU. If you have done well in other social science courses at the state college, though, you are likely to be ready to come into 3000-level courses in sociology. If you have any concerns, talks about them with the professor who is teaching the course.    On both the Boca and Davie campuses, we want to make it as easy as possible for transfer students to declare and succeed in the sociology major.

 Last Modified 11/17/15