Career Guide to JMU Majors: Sociology
Community Action and Evaluation
Environment,Technologies and Innovations
Markets and Cultures
Political and Global Analysis
Social Inequalities and Public Policy
Admission and Progression Standards:
Visit the Major Snapshots site to learn more about the admission and progression standards of this major.
Description of Major
Sociology is offered as a major and minor at JMU. The Sociology program is designed for any students who want to develop those abilities which enable them to better understand society, social institutions, human interactions, and social forces which influence human conduct. Students learn the importance of: the social component of all dimensions of human experience; the impact social science has on social policy decisions; and diversity in social orientations and practices within and across societies. Instruction focuses on schools of thought and methodological skills within the sociological tradition by enhancing students: understanding of the major strands of sociological thought; skills in the application of sociological methods; and ability to place the development and practice of sociology within a social and historical context. The program offers a broad general background for careers in government, business, non-profit, education, and social services, and provides a solid basis for advanced graduate training.
Tell me more about this field of study
Sociology is the scientific study of social life, social organization, and the social causes and consequences of human behavior. It studies groups of all sizes, from individual families to entire societies. Sociology's subject matter ranges from the intimate family to the hostile mob, from crime to religion, from the divisions of race and social class to the shared beliefs of a common culture, from the sociology of work to the sociology of sport. In fact, few fields have such broad scope and relevance. An understanding of self, others, and history requires knowledge of the social environment. There are two aspects of the sociological perspective: looking beyond the individual to the structure and dynamics of human groups rather than the nature of the individuals within these groups, and looking at the individual and society as they are interrelated. Sociology studies people, or more precisely, their interactions within a social setting. The discipline's ultimate aim is to develop a refined body of knowledge that can explain, and in some cases predict, social phenomena. Because this breadth,Sociology offers tremendous flexibility and career potential.
Tell me more about specialization
Sociology has specializations that touch on virtually every aspect of life, both at the level of day to day experience and that of long term social change. For example, that aspect of sociology which focuses primarily on the interaction between individuals and the behavior of small groups is usually referred to as "microsociology" or sometimes "social psychology". On the other hand, other aspects of sociology involve studying the characteristics of the entire global social system and political-economy, or what is often called "macrosociology". Whether at the micro or macro level sociologists are interested in the dynamics of such things as political and economic institutions; legal systems; crime and punishment; social inequalities rooted in social differences such as sex, race/ethnicity and class; the place of things like technology, science, medicine, and environment in relation to society. If it is relevant to the human condition you will find Sociologists that study it, and distinct professional organizations that serve those research interests.
Common majors or minors that complement this major
Some common combinations are Africana Studies, American Studies, Anthropology, Asian Studies, Communication Studies, Criminal Justice, Cultural Communication, Economics, Environmental Studies, Family Studies, Human Science, Gerontology, Global Religions and Global Issues, Humanitarian Affairs, International Affairs, Justice Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Middle Eastern Communication and Migration, Modern Foreign Languages, Nonprofit Studies, Political Science, Psychology, Science Technology and Society, Women's Studies, or Writing Rhetoric and Technical Communication.
Students who do well in this program are often curious about the dynamics of social interaction and social organization as well as diversity and inequality. Simply put, students often come to Sociology because they are intrigued by how and why people behave as they do socially, and curious about how their individual experiences and identities have been shaped by society and culture. Students enrolled in the Sociology program develop strong research, writing, analytical and oral communication skills. They develop abilities to problem solve and do independent research. They are able to see problems from multiple perspectives that take into account both the system level considerations of social and cultural contexts, as well as the day to day experiences of themselves and others.
>Many graduates choose typical career paths associated with this major. However, some graduates choose unrelated careers that utilize skills and experiences developed during their years in college. Keep in mind, that some fields will require graduate study or further training. The listing below offers examples of possible career paths and is not meant to be comprehensive.
Who employs graduates?
Adoption Agencies, Advocacy Groups, Advertising and Marketing Firms, Businesses of many kinds, Colleges/Universities, Community Services Agencies, Consulting Firms, Correctional Institutions, Court Systems, Federal & State Government Agencies, Healthcare Organizations, Hospitals, Law Enforcement Agencies, Law Offices, Non Profit Agencies, Nursing Homes and Retirement Communities, Religious Service Organizations and Research Institutes.
Qualified and interested students can take part in field practicum experiences or independent study projects. The Sociology Program also sponsors a Student Internship Program in which well-qualified students are invited to work with the Sociology faculty. These students help faculty with the administration of introductory courses and research projects, as well as, learn to advise other students. Interested students should contact the Coordinator of the Sociology Program for more information. Students can also gain experience in other ways, such as joining student organizations like The Sociology Club or participating in the Student Research Symposium. The Community Service Learning program provides opportunities for students to pursue their interests through volunteering their time in the community.
View our list of internship coordinators for each major.
A broad range of resources on career fields, internships, and job search information is also available in the Career & Academic Planning Resource Center.
A few titles from our Resource Center related to this field include:
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All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission from JMU Career & Academic Planning. Content for each major has been written/reviewed by faculty in the respective department and is revised each year. Requests to update content can be submitted to the Career Guide editor, Barbara Daniel.