Sociology studies principles of social psychology, stratification, and criminology in small groups, private and public organizations, neighborhoods, communities, entire societies, and worldwide.
An undergraduate degree in sociology prepares students for a wide range of careers, including social service, criminal justice, corrections, business, human resources management, applied social research, and secondary education.
Why Study at Iowa?
The Department of Sociology has a strong undergraduate program with outstanding academics and comprehensive career preparation, including careful advising by faculty members. Your work for the sociology major will culminate in a writing/research portfolio that will help you search for a job and apply to graduate school.
As a sociology student, you'll acquire both “soft” and “hard” skills that are in demand in today’s labor market. Soft skills include the abilities to think critically and creatively, communicate, lead, and work with people from diverse backgrounds. Hard skills include the ability to analyze data statistically (e.g., survey and census data), evaluate programs, and communicate statistical results to policymakers.
The department's faculty is especially strong in social psychology, criminology, inequality, organizations, and family/gender studies. U.S.News & World Report ranks the department’s social psychology program third in the nation.
The department has developed four special programs for undergraduates. One focuses on writing skills, another on strengthening international aspects of course work. A third program involves internships in the criminal justice and human services areas, in which you'll earn course credit while gaining work experience. Finally, the major's capstone course will help you prepare to transition from college to work, graduate school, or law school.
The department also collaborates with the departments of economics and philosophy to offer the BA in Ethics & Public Policy, a major that focuses on practical questions about how individuals ought to behave and regulate the behavior of others.
Students majoring in sociology can earn a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree. Students in both programs are encouraged to begin with the introductory and mathematics courses, since they provide a foundation for the rest of the major. Course work for both programs includes:
- Introduction to Sociology Principles
- Mathematics (BA students take a statistics course, BS students take Calculus I–II)
- Sociological theory and research methods (BA students take three courses, BS students take five)
- Five or more elective courses in sociology
- A sociology capstone course
- Students in the BS program also take courses in calculus or engineering mathematics
- Students in the BA program also take courses in sociological theory, data analysis, and research methods
Sociology elective courses allow you to focus on one of several areas:
- Crime, law, and social control
- Gender and family
- Social psychology
- Social stratification and organizations
- Political sociology and social change
Students also are required to maintain a portfolio that chronicles their progress through the major, and are advised to complete two courses in at least one of these subjects: anthropology, economics, geography, political science, or psychology. A second major in anthropology, business, health-related majors, psychology, social work, and sport studies combines well with the sociology major.
See Sociology in the UI General Catalog to learn more about the major and graduating with honors.
If you're particularly interested in issues related to crime, you may opt to use your elective courses to complete the department's criminology track. You'll choose at least five courses on subjects such as criminal justice and corrections, criminal punishment, deviance and control, gender and violence, global criminology, juvenile delinquency, the legal system, and philanthropy. See Sociology in the UI General Catalog to learn more about this track.
Sociology majors interested in teaching at the elementary or secondary school level will need to apply to the College of Education's Teacher Education Program.
Minor in Sociology
Sociology majors need to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Admission Requirements Tabs
If you join the Undergraduate Sociological Association, a club for majors, you'll have opportunities to volunteer and to hear guest speakers talk about their careers. The Iowa Sociological Association holds an annual meeting that simulates professional academic meetings. Students present papers to an audience of faculty and other students as part of a competition. You also may join the American Sociological Association and the Midwest Sociological Society. Your membership benefits will include discounts on professional journals, and you'll receive publications about careers and graduate programs. You'll also be able to attend professional meetings, where members network with others in the field.
If you're an outstanding student, you might join the campus chapter of Alpha Kappa Delta, the national honor society for sociology students.
The department works closely with the Pomerantz Career Center to place students in internships, which provide valuable preparation for graduate school and professional careers. You may earn sociology credit through the internship program.
Internships give you numerous opportunities to gain hands-on experience. If you're interested in criminology, you may enroll in an internship that will put you to work in a local criminal justice setting. A similar program is available in the human services area.
Independent study or field experience hours provide opportunities for community work. Students interested in areas such as child development, mental health, and the sociology of sport may work with faculty members, gaining experience and earning academic credit.
Many internships are available for students interested in teaching. The Undergraduate Teaching Assistantship provides seniors with experience in college-level teaching, which they may add to their résumés. They attend the course and hold office hours in order to help enrolled students.
The Washington Center offers students credit for internships in Washington, D.C., where they experience professional life in the nation’s capital.
Iowa graduates have job placement rates ranging from 86-100 percent, depending on their area of study, and our Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs.
In addition to preparing students for careers in social service, criminal justice, and other areas, this major offers an integrated package of courses, research training, writing enhancement, international perspective, and internships to provide graduates with impressive credentials. The degree also prepares students for graduate or professional study in areas such as social work, urban and regional planning, law, criminal justice, and social policy. Teaching positions in colleges or universities and research positions in academic, private, and governmental organizations often require advanced degrees in sociology.
Apply to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.