Sociology studies principles of social psychology, stratification, and criminology in private and public organizations, small groups, 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 Iowa?

The Department of Sociology and Criminology has a strong undergraduate program with outstanding academics and comprehensive career preparation, including careful advising by faculty members.

Our 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.

Sociology students acquire both “soft” and “hard” skills that are in demand in today’s labor market. Soft skills include the ability to think critically and creatively, lead, communicate, and work with people from diverse backgrounds. Hard skills include the ability to analyze data statistically, evaluate programs, and communicate statistical results to policymakers.

The department offers four special programs for undergraduates. One focuses on writing skills and another on strengthening international aspects of coursework. 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 and Public Policy, a major that focuses on practical questions about how individuals ought to behave and regulate the behavior of others.

Admission Requirements

Students interested in this major need to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


Family and Health Services
Human Relations and Business
  Teaching Licensure
in Social Science
  Honors Courses
  Four-Year Graduation Plan
Admission Process

Careers and Outcomes

Iowa graduates have a 95 percent job/grad school placement rate within six months of graduation. 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.

Student Opportunities

In addition to more than 500 student organizations, Iowa students choose from more than 100 study abroad programs and multiple undergraduate research opportunities

The department has an active undergraduate organization, the Sociology and Criminology Club, which is open to all interested students. The student-run group sponsors speakers, films, and career days; conducts study groups; and facilitates group volunteerism. 

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 offer opportunities to gain hands-on experience. If you're interested in criminology, you may enroll in an internship that will place you 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.


The University of Iowa provides a variety of scholarships to eligible undergraduate students through the Iowa Scholarship Portal. Scholarships are available to first-year, transfer, and currently enrolled students. For additional details on scholarships for your program of study, check directly with the department or college. 

The Office of Admissions and the Office of Student Financial Aid are great resources for students seeking scholarships.

Sociology student experience at Iowa

Iowa is one of only a few integrated sociology and criminology departments at R-1 institutions in the nation and it's one of the fastest growing undergraduate criminology programs in America.

If you are interested in society, crime, and social justice who want a strong foundation for a variety of professional, legal, research or academic careers, only Iowa delivers the benefits of an integrated sociology and criminology program with exceptional training in writing and communication. For a large research university, our faculty are very accessible to undergraduates, and our graduate students benefit from smaller cohorts that foster connections and collaboration.

Marissa talks more about what it's like to study Sociology at the University of Iowa.

Criminology student experience at Iowa

The Department of Sociology and Criminology will offer you the opportunity to ask essential questions about the societies in which we live and participate in research with nationally renowned faculty on a host of topics. You will develop strong theoretical foundations that combine with broad methodological training to develop the skills that lead to successful professional and academic careers; and our culture is characterized by a strong commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Abigail talks more about what it's like to study Criminology at the University of Iowa.


Sociology majors can earn a BA 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. Coursework for the program includes:

  • Introduction to Sociology Principles
  • Statistics
  • Three sociological theory and research methods courses
  • Five or more elective courses in sociology
  • A sociology capstone course
  • Data analysis

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

In addition to coursework for the major, students also must complete the requirements of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences GE CLAS Core

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, a health-related major, social work, psychology, or sport studies combines well with the sociology major.

View Sociology and Criminology in the UI General Catalog to learn about required coursework for the major or minor and graduating with honors.

Teaching Licensure:

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.