Dr. Liam Buckley takes you through the details of JMU Sociology and Anthropology.

Sociology and Anthropology Frequently Asked Questions




What are the overall strengths of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology?

  • Practical and relevant majors for the 21st century
  • Strong writing, research and analytical skills for students
  • Courses that explore multiple aspects of society
  • Global-oriented course materials that stress critical thinking and scientific interpretations of cultures, peoples and places.
  • Small faculty-to-student ratio; individualized learning experience; major can be completed in four semesters.

What courses will I take with a major in Sociology?

Sex and Gender; Medical Sociology; the Sociology of Work; Race and Ethnicity; Immigration Studies; Family Dynamics. Students can specialize in the following areas: Environment, Technologies and Innovations; Political and Global Analysis; Community Action and Evaluation; Markets and Cultures; Social Inequalities and Public Policy

What courses will I take with a major in Anthropology?

Regional studies in Sub-Saharan African, Latin America, and South-East Asia; Language and Culture; Ethnographic Research Methods; Geographic Information Systems (and Spatial Analysis; Archaeology of Food; the Evolution of Primate Sexuality and Reproduction; Anthropology of War; Medical Anthropology; Development Studies.

Students can take courses in all the four fields of Anthropology:  Cultural Anthropology, Linguistic Anthropology, Biological Anthropology and Archaeology

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.

Why major in Anthropology at JMU?

Anthropology's goal is to document the diversity of ways humans live and have lived throughout the world. Anthropologists go “off road,” working directly with people and their artifacts, to examine their beliefs and values, how they make a living, how they express themselves, how they interact, and how they affect and are affected by the natural world.

What career competencies do Sociology and Anthropology majors offer?

  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Designing critical questions, asking critical questions, formulating data-driven solutions.
  • Oral and written communications, using qualitative and quantitative data
  • Teamwork and collaboration
  • Digital technology
  • Fluency in global, intercultural and social dynamics

What kinds of experiential learning experiences does the Department of Sociology and Anthropology offer?

Out of class, our majors gain experience through internships and service learning; conduct excavations, field-based and lab research, and publish with professors; present their research data at conferences; serve as teaching assistants. They participate in summer and semester-long study programs in the U.S. and overseas.

What are class sizes in Sociology and Anthropology?

The introductory level courses can be quite large—ranging from 40 to 200. 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. Our lab-based, hands-on classes may have only five to seven students. This allows faculty to really focus on the training and directing their students.

Can you tell me more about the types of careers that Sociology and Anthropology 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
  • Archaeological Firms
  • 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 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. During this time, our students begin to focus in on the next few years of their lives and to consider what they will need from a graduate education to further develop their career trajectory.  Some of our students stay in Sociology or Anthropology for graduate school. Most of our students, however, go into new fields, such as Cultural Resource Management, Public Health, Human Resources, Public Administration and International Affairs. Sociology and Anthropology majors are great springboards for the next stages of our students’ lives.

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

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 department. 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 Department of Sociology and Anthropology offer career advising?

Each year alumni from Sociology and Anthropology return to JMU to meet with and advise our current students. Sociology and Anthropology 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, Liam Buckley, Academic Unit Head, Sociology and Anthropology, if you have any questions. My email address is bucklelm@jmu.edu. I am happy to communicate with you (email/phone/video-call) or arrange for you to visit the department, meet with faculty and visit our labs.

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