The Sociology major is a department within the College of Arts & Letters.


Environments, Technologies and Innovation
Political and Global Analysis
Markets and Cultures
Communities, 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

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.

As a sociology major, you can apply the skills you learn to real-world needs in volunteer projects or internship experiences that will enhance your resumé. Through course work and projects, you can gain hands-on experience doing sociology, which might include: immersion in the daily life of groups, interview methodology, examining recorded interaction, interpreting historical documents, analyzing large national surveys, and producing sophisticated social critique.

Why are these skills important? By examining how our everyday actions are connected to larger social, economic, and political affairs, you can address social possibilities and problems that are important to non-profit organizations, government agencies, and a range of other settings such as management, health care, and marketing. You can be the change!

More About the Field 

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 of this breadth, Sociology offers tremendous flexibility and career potential.


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.

Complementary Majors and Minors 

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.

Characteristics of Successful Students

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.

  • Activities Director
  • Admissions Counselor
  • Advocacy Outreach Specialist
  • Attorney
  • Case Manager
  • Communications Outreach Specialist
  • Community Relations Director
  • Community Resource Coordinator
  • Community Services Director
  • Congressional Aide
  • Consumer Advocate
  • Corrections Officer
  • Crime Victims Services Worker
  • Criminologist
  • Crisis Pregnancy Center Coordinator
  • Customs/ Immigration Officer
  • Data Analyst
  • Day Care Provider/ Director
  • Demographer
  • Disability Specialist
  • Educator
  • Elder Care Worker
  • Fund Raiser/ Development Officer
  • Hospice Coordinator
  • Human Rights Activist
  • Infant Mental Health Specialist
  • Job Analyst
  • Labor Relations Specialist
  • Legal Assistant
  • Legislative Correspondent
  • Management Trainee
  • Market Research Analyst
  • Marketing/Communications Coordinator
  • Mediator/ Negotiator
  • Mental Health Case Manager
  • Missionary
  • Nursing Home Director
  • Peace Corp or Vista Worker
  • Personnel Administrator
  • Personnel Interviewer
  • Police Officer
  • Political Systems Researcher
  • Population Studies Researcher
  • Probation/ Parole Officer
  • Public Health Statistician
  • Public Relations Specialist
  • Race Relations Specialist
  • Researcher
  • Residential Foster Care Parent
  • Secret Service Agent
  • Social Worker
  • Sociologist
  • Teacher
  • Urban/ Regional Planner
  • Woman’s Services Worker
  • Women’s Resource Counselor
  • Writer/ Author
  • Youth Programs Coordinator

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.

Internships and Experiential Opportunities 

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.

Career Profiles 

Sociologist Summary
A Day the in Life of a Sociologist

Additional Resources to Research Careers
  • Handshake: view new internships and jobs that employers are looking to hire JMU students from your major 
  • Career Outcomes: see where alumni worked or studied right after graduating.
  • GoinGlobal: learn more about employment opportunities overseas as well as H1B visa information for international Dukes pursuing jobs in the U.S.
  • O*NET: browse occupational profiles to learn about thousands of different careers, pulling data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics 
  • CareerOneStop: explore thousands of different careers by looking at career profiles 
  • Utilize the LinkedIn Alumni tool to see what others have done with their majors and what their career paths look like. Reach out to alumni via LinkedIn and conduct an informational interview.

© University Career Center, James Madison University

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission from the JMU University Career Center. 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 career@jmu.edu

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