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Sociology Frequently Asked Questions

 What are the overall strengths of the Sociology Program?

  • Sociology is a practical and relevant major/minor for the 21st Century.
  • Students gain strong writing, research and analytical skills.
  • We offer a range of courses that explore multiple aspects of society.
  • We offer global-oriented course materials that stress critical thinking and scientific interpretations of cultures, peoples, and places.
  • We have a small faculty-to-student ratio; individualized learning experiences and opportunities; and the major can be completed in 4 semesters.
  • We have courses and faculty expertise in the following areas:
    • Sex and Gender
    • Race and Ethnicity
    • Identity and Inequality
    • Medical Sociology
    • Environmental Sociology
    • The Sociology of Work
    • Immigration Studies
    • Family Dynamics
    • Social Psychology
    • Digital Sociology
    • Critical Media Studies
  • Students can specialize in the following areas:
    • Environment, Technologies, and Innovations
    • Political and Global Analysis
    • Markets and Cultures
    • Communities, Inequalities, and Public Policy
    • Health, Medicine, and Society

 Why major in Sociology at JMU?

If you want to change the world, you need to know how the world works.  Sociologists study the causes and consequences of social inequality as well as the social aspects of the environment, technology, politics, health, globalization, social movements, social justice, markets, mass media/popular culture, and more.

 What career competencies do Sociology majors offer?

  • Critical Thinking/Problem Solving
  • Designing critical questions, asking critical questions, formulating data-driven solutions.
  • Oral/Written Communications, using qualitative and quantitative data
  • Teamwork/Collaboration
  • Digital Technology
  • Fluency in global/intercultural and social dynamics

 What kinds of experiential learning experiences does the Sociology Program offer?

Out of class, our majors can gain experience through internships and service learning, through independent research projects, by presenting their research at conferences, and by serving as teaching assistants. Many of our students also participate in summer and semester-long study programs in the USA and overseas.

 What are class sizes in Sociology and Anthropology?

The introductory level courses can be quite large—ranging between 40 and 200 students. Lots of students, majoring in other subjects, take our introductory courses to gain valuable skills. Our upper level classes, however, are smaller in size, ranging from 10 to 30. This allows faculty to focus on the training and mentoring of their students.

 Can you tell me more about the types of careers that Sociology majors go into after graduation?

During their time at JMU, our majors develop their own career interests that reflect not only what they are learning with their professors but also their growing interests in the world around them. Our majors are self-selecting and self-starters. They have clarity of purpose and are highly motivated to learn and gain new skills. These are some of the careers that our majors have pursued and found rewarding:

  • The Smithsonian
  • The National Park Service
  • Publishing Houses
  • Media Organizations
  • Museums
  • Public Health Programs
  • Healthcare Organizations
  • NGOs
  • Graduate and Professional Schools
  • Law School, Business School
  • Communications and Public Relations
  • Counseling Professions
  • Marketing Companies
  • Human Resources
  • Government Agencies
  • Financial Services
  • Peace Corps, Americorps, TFA
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Environmental Consulting Firms
  • Fundraising
  • Policy Institutes
  • International Affairs
  • Federal, State, and Local Government

 What about graduate school?

If and when our students go to graduate school, it is typically after a few years of post-JMU work experience – although some students have gone directly into graduate and professional studies after completing their undergraduate work at JMU. For students who go directly into another academic program, their graduate studies have covered a range of disciplinary and professional areas from sociology to law school, to medical school, to social work, to public health. For students who seek graduate studies after working for a few years, they have typically used that time to consider what they will need from a graduate education to further develop their career trajectory. Some of these students stay in Sociology for graduate school. But many go into new fields, such as Cultural Resource Management, Public Health, Human Resources, Public Administration, and International Affairs. Given the wide application of the critical thinking and research skills that a sociology major provides, it is great springboard for the next stages of our students’ lives.

 Tell me about the faculty. How will they mentor me?

To put it simply, our faculty are excellent. They win awards for teaching and research. They are all actively engaged in research and their professional fields. Each faculty member mentors 10-15 majors within the program. This means that our students receive individualized mentoring and build strong, long-lasting networks with their advisers that continue after our students graduate form JMU.

 Does the Sociology Program offer career advising?

Each year alumni from both Sociology and Anthropology return to JMU to meet with and advise our current students. Sociology classes regularly contain material focused on career planning. Faculty advise and supervise internships. Faculty also consult with JMU’s Career and Academic Planning Center on ways to position our majors to determine and development their professional tracks. Career advising begins on the first day of your major and continues well beyond graduation!

Be sure to email me, Dr. Matthew Ezzell, Sociology Program Coordinator in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, if you have any questions. I am happy to communicate with you (email/phone/video-call) or arrange for you to visit the department and meet with faculty. My email address is ezzellmb@jmu.edu

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