Welcome to Sociology!
Sociology can help students understand patterns of social life, including the impact of culture, history and institutions upon people’s lives. Sociology decodes the mystery of the roots and persistence of social problems, including the causes and consequences of race, gender, class and other forms of inequality. Along the way, students learn critical thinking and how to work with data. Sociology has acute relevance for students seeking help in navigating our contemporary world.
In a recent survey of more than 1100 University of Virginia students, Sociology majors were more satisfied than other majors in the College on every dimension measured, from the variety and quality of courses to faculty advising to departmental communication. Sociology majors were also more likely to reconsider their position on a topic after assessing other’s arguments. Come to sociology to change your mind, or see if you can change others’.
What is Sociology
Sociology is the study of social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behavior. Sociology helps people understand the roots and impact of different forms of inequality, including race, gender, and class.
Sociological inquiry shows that much of what people do, believe, and become arises from their social relationships and that social life has discernable patterns.
The subject matter of sociology ranges from the intimate family to the body politic; from organized crime to religious cults; from the divisions of race, gender and social class to the shared beliefs of a common culture; and from the sociology of work to the sociology of sports.
In fact, few fields have such broad scope and relevance for understanding and engaging with the world.
Questions that Sociology Courses Explore
How do we understand the changing meanings of race and ethnicity in American society as diversity continues to increase?
How do race, gender, class, sexuality, and other individual characteristics intersect and overlap to impact people’s lived experiences?
How do institutions create and reinforce inequality in society?
How effective have social policies been in alleviating poverty? Crime? Racial disparities?
What are the social conditions that promote democracy instead of authoritarianism?
How does globalization affect the status of women?
What is the fate of community and a sense of belonging in an increasingly "online" world?
What Can You Do with a Sociology Major
Sociology majors and minors have developed successful careers in an impressively broad range of professional fields, including Medicine and Public Health; Law and Social Policy; Business; Education; Media and the Arts; International Affairs and Development; Public Service, Community Organizing and Advocacy.
These fields are very broad, because what Sociology majors learn is applicable to every field or occupation. Sociology teaches you about social inequality, about social forces that shape our lives, about powerful institutions and the roots of resistance, about culture and ideologies, about the global and the local. Sociology majors also learn how to think critically, how to write, and how to analyze and interpret data. Sociology helps students become better thinkers and better citizens.
For additional information on Career Opportunities, please view the Internship Placement Program at University of Virginia's Career Center here.
Why Students Choose Sociology
Sociology has impacted my understanding of how the world works. It has both simplified and made the world more complex and fascinating, giving me grounding and a sense of relief for explaining why things happen the way they do. Finally a major that has some answers (with analysis and thought)! For those curious about what has led to wealth disparities in cities, what fuels gender inequality, and what purpose religion might serve, sociology is for you. Ultimately this major tackles life's biggest and most interesting questions.
--- Sam, 4th year Biology major/Sociology minor
It is in my Sociology classes here that I have learned the most about the world around me and the roots-the structures-that influence our policies, our behaviors, and our interactions. I know that majoring in Sociology has provided me with a knowledge and understanding of both society at large and my place in society that will carry me far past my undergraduate career.
--- Kaycee, 3rd year, Sociology and Government double-major