Sociology is the study of society and how it is shaped by individual and collective action.

A "sociological imagination" helps us to see the connections between private troubles, experience individually, and public issues, experienced collectively. It also explains how individual attitudes and behaviors are distributed in patterned and predictable ways according to the position of the individual society's institutional structure. These institutions include those of economy, government, family, education, and religion.

Sociologists are cross-disciplinary in their research as well as teaching.  This means that they are active in related programs on campus, such as Criminal Justice StudiesUrban and Regional StudiesWomen's and Gender Studies, American Studies, African and African-American StudiesReligious Studies, and Law and Society.

For more information about a degree in Sociology, contact: Francine Banner, Ph.D. Professor of Sociology.

Degree Requirements

Students can pursue a major or a minor in Sociology. Learn more about requirements.

What can sociology do for you?
Sociology can provide you with a lot of skills as well as resources for you to use in the labor market.
Professor Pam Aronson
The Major

Students must complete at least 28 hours in sociology courses numbered 300 or above.  Learn more about CASL Degree Requirements.

All students must take the following courses:

Prerequisites -- Required courses

Not counted in the 28 hours required in the major.

  • SOC 200 or 201 

Cognates -- Required courses

6 credit hours (300+) from the following:

  • AAAS, ANTH, CRJ, ECON, HHS, HIST, POL, PSYC, STAT, WGST (Internships in these disciplines cannot be used to satisfy the cognate requirement).

Major -- Required courses

28 credit hours at 300+ level. See Undergraduate Catalog for specific course requirements.

Optional Concentrations

Students majoring in Sociology have the option to declare a concentration with a specific interest in one of the following:

Applied and Community-based Research

This concentration will be available for students who have a specific interest in developing their methodological skills for careers in social sciences or applied research fields.  It will rely more heavily on Independent Studies or Advanced Readings courses.  As more Academic Service Learning courses are added to the discipline, they will also become options for this concentration.

Diversity, Inequality, and Social Justice

This concentration will appeal to students who have a strong, specific interest in activism, advocacy and social change.  It reflects the strong sociological tradition of advocating for social justice and critiquing social arrangements that reproduce inequality, especially as it relates to race, ethnicity and social class. 

Families, Well-Being and Social Welfare

This concentration will draw students who have an interest in working in social services or social work, and designing effective social programs or interventions, especially those targeted as children and families.  Like the DIS concentration, there is a strong emphasis on confronting and critiquing social inequality, especially as it relates to gender, sexuality and age.

The Minor/Concentration

Students can choose sociology as a Minor or Concentration (Integrative Studies), which consists of 12 hours of upper-division credit in sociology.

Sociology students might want to focus their coursework around occupational tracks.  Below are some possible tracks that students should discuss in more depth with their sociology advisor.  The list of courses is in no way complete, merely suggestive.

  • Social Work and Related Human Services (e.g., social workers, counselors, personnel, recreation directors).  Suggested courses include: 201, 350, 445, 446, 447, 461, 465, 477, 478, 482.
  • Managing People and Organizations (e.g., business management, public administration, labor relations).  Suggested courses include: 382, 422, 442, 443, 483.
  • Research (e.g., in marketing or public opinion research).  Suggested courses include: 383, 410, 497.
  • Criminal Justice (e.g., probation officers, youth counselors, paralegals, police officers, lawyers).  Suggested courses include: 447, 453, 461, 465, 468, 469, 470.
  • Graduate School (Ph.D. studies in sociology and other social sciences).  Suggested courses include: 308, 410, 413, 423, 445, 460, 483, 497, 498.
More about Sociology

The field of sociology has grown in scope and importance as society has grown more complex and pluralistic. The modern individual is involved in a tightly integrated, sometimes conflicting, network of social groups, families, institutions, governmental, economic, educational, and religious bodies, and specialized community organizations. Sociology studies the internal structure by which society is organized, the development and dynamics of the various groupings within it, and the influences of these upon the individual. UM-Dearborn’s undergraduate program in Sociology provides a focus for a general liberal education, preparation for careers in a number of areas, and grounding for advanced study in graduate and professional schools. A degree in Sociology prepares students for employment in jobs requiring interpersonal skills and understanding, data collection and analysis, or specialized knowledge about how particular institutions work. Actual occupational experience in the area of social work can be obtained through an internship.

Program Goals
  • Competence at Sociological Theory
  • Competence at Sociological Methods
  • Awareness of Social Structure
  • Awareness of the Intersection between History and Biography
  • Competence in Critical Thinking

Internship and Research Opportunities

Sociology students are provided with supervised field experience in a variety of occupational agencies focusing on social work and/or criminal justice. Students are placed in sites appropriate to their occupational goals. 

Criminal Justice Internship

An internship experience of 3 to 6 credit hours is required.  The CRJ internship provides supervised field experience in a variety of occupational agencies focusing on criminal justice and law enforcement.  Each intern spends a minimum of 80 hours on site and attends a weekly seminar.  Currently employed sworn federal, state, and local officers or agents may waive, through petition, the internship field experience.  All students are required to register for and attend the weekly seminar.

If interested, please visit the Criminal Justice Internship web page.

Inside Out Prison Exchange

This community-based course, taught in a local correctional facility, brings university students and incarcerated students together to study as peers.  Together students explore issues of crime and justice, drawing on one another to create a deeper understanding of how these issues affect out lives as individuals and as a society.  The course creates a dynamic partnership between UM-Dearborn and a correctional facility to allow students to question approaches to issues of crime and justice in order to build a safer and more just society for all.

The course encourages outside students (UM-Dearborn) to contextualize and to think deeply about what they have learned about crime and criminals and to help them pursue the work of creating a restorative criminal justice system; it challenges inside students to place their life experiences into larger social contexts and to rekindle their intellectual self-confidence and interest in further education.

For more information, visit the Inside Out Prison Exchange Program page.

Research Opportunities

The Sociology faculty encourages students to develop their own research projects in the form of independent studies (SOC 398/498). To find an appropriate faculty member for either one of these courses, students should start by consulting the list of faculty members and their specializations. Often, faculty members are involved in research in which students can take part as data collectors or analysts.

Sociology students frequently present the results of their research at undergraduate research conferences like Meeting of Minds and the Michigan Undergraduate Research Forum, and even at professional meetings.

Student Research Projects

Undergraduates are doing a variety of research across all four colleges, increasing their confidence in academic pursuits and helping them make an impact in the community. In this article, Undergraduate research advances student goals, university mission, Sociology student Matthew Fleming's research with Prof. Pamela Aronson is featured.

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