Jul 17, 2024  
2024-2025, 2nd ed. General Catalog 
2024-2025, 2nd ed. General Catalog


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Department Office
Schulz Library and Information Center, 2nd Floor
(707) 664-2561

For faculty information, please see Faculty  

Sociological research attempts to improve the human condition within the context of a strong tradition of social justice and human equality. Society shapes attitudes, goals, hopes and aspirations, and personal preferences. Society affects individuals, groups, and entire nations. Yet at the same time that society is shaping the individual, the individual is shaping society. In order to understand oneself and others, the world, and the future, one has to understand society. Sociology is the discipline that studies groups and societies—what they are, how they got that way, and what impact they have.

Sociology is a field with diverse areas of study. These range from the behavior of the individual as a social actor to the structure of entire societies. Key topics include social psychology, socialization, deviant behavior, group behavior, organizations and institutions, power, inequality, and social change. Major social institutions, including the family, education, religion, social welfare, medicine, work, politics, and the media, are also explored in detail. To develop skills for studying society, students are introduced to valuable techniques such as survey research, sampling, observational methods, content analysis, experimentation, interviewing, and computer applications in research.

Because sociology is a core subject for any liberal arts education, the department offers a variety of courses of interest to non-majors. These concern such current social issues as the problems of aging, drugs and society, social inequities, media, education, globalization, and the information revolution.

The major has been designed to allow each student, in consultation with an advisor, to develop an individualized program of study. The required courses ensure a solid grounding in sociological concepts, theories, and research methods.

By the time students graduate, they will:

  • Create clear, succinct analysis in writing and speaking;
  • Understand the structure and logic of the full range of the discipline;
  • Formulate critical and analytic questions about society and be able to investigate them through original research;
  • Demonstrate competence in handling databases and in using appropriate technical tools; and
  • Apply theory and methods in sustained independent inquiry.

Careers in Sociology

Sociology provides an excellent preparation for a wide range of careers. A bachelor’s degree in sociology qualifies one for opportunities in national, state, and local government, including research, public administration, personnel, and planning. The major can lead to positions in human services and social advocacy, including alcohol and drug rehabilitation, health agency administration, counseling, recreation, senior services, social welfare, vocational, and rehabilitation counseling. Applications of sociology in business include organizational management, human relations, union organization, industrial relations, communication consulting, public relations, and marketing. Sociology constitutes valuable coursework in preparation for graduate study in law, business, and a variety of human services professions, as well as doctoral programs in sociology and related academic fields. Before graduation, sociology majors can establish internships that lead to valuable professional contacts and provide practical experience in pursuing these and additional career paths.

The department has a chapter of the national sociology honor society Alpha Kappa Delta, and it awards a C. Wright Mills Award for Sociological Imagination on an annual basis for the best original research paper produced by a student in the department.

Every year the Joseph J. Byrne Memorial Scholarship is awarded to an outstanding student majoring in sociology.

The Robert Holzapfel Scholarship is awarded to a student majoring in sociology or counseling.


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