Discover the forces behind social inequality and social change.
Explore your options — classes, internships, research and study abroad. Find what interests you, discover what you love, and create a major experience that jumpstarts your future.
A major in Sociology will help you understand why society functions the way it does, and how you can work to make it more just.
You’ll learn about individual and group identities connected to race, class, gender, sexuality, age, culture and religion. Study institutions like family, politics and religion, and how power is distributed in society. Sociology helps you understand why some groups maintain the status quo while others upend and reshape society. It helps you see an event like a crime wave as the tip of an iceberg and identify the larger social and historical forces at work under the surface.
Sociology will teach you to study the causes and consequences of human beliefs and behavior from a scientific perspective. You’ll learn how to design a research study of a topic you’re curious about and produce professional-level work. Outside the classroom, you’ll apply your skills by interning at a place like a child welfare organization, nonprofit that serves the urban poor, girls empowerment club, family violence shelter, or environmental or human rights advocacy group.
After graduation, you may work in social services, business, the health professions, journalism or government – or pursue a career producing sociological research, which underpins many policy decisions and social programs. Whatever you choose, you’ll leave St. Edward’s with strong research skills, insight into society and a passion for social justice.
What do our graduates do?
Sociology majors go on to a variety of careers and graduate schools from St. Edward’s. Here’s a sample.
- English Teaching Assistant in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program
- Peace Corps member in Ecuador
- Senior associate in Client Solutions at the Gerson Lehrman Group
- Student in the Sociology PhD program at Washington State University in Pullman
- Donor relations and data coordinator at Foundation Communities, which provides supportive, affordable housing to families in need
Breakout Fulbright Students
Rachel Leader ’19, a Sociology major, received the highly selective Fulbright award, a scholarship and grant program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. Read about her experiences — and those of other Fulbright scholars — on the hilltop.
The Classroom and Beyond
As a Sociology major, you’ll learn through service, research and internships. These experiences will help you understand how the dynamics you’re studying in class unfold in the Austin community.
Sociology majors learn methods for conducting research to understand social phenomena. You’ll have the opportunity to present your work at the St. Edward’s Symposium on Undergraduate Research and Creative Expression or at a professional academic conference, where you can learn about the careers in research and academia and build your network.
Studying for a semester at any of St. Edward’s partner campuses, or during a shorter faculty-led program, will enrich your understanding of Sociology. You’ll witness how different policies and cultural expectations affect social justice in another country and build your ability to critically analyze initiatives in the United States.
Campus Ministry offers numerous service programs open to all students, regardless of major or religious affiliation. Give back to your community and learn about real-world efforts to address the challenges you’ve learned about in class.
S.E.R.V.E Austin is a weekly, semester-long volunteer commitment at a specific site where you’ll develop relationships with immigrants and refugees, children at an after-school program, young adults working on their GED, the elderly or the formerly homeless.
S.E.R.V.E. 1 Day events are Saturday-morning programs that include breakfast, transportation to the site, lunch and a reflection. These one-day projects often involve physical labor, like cleaning up a park, removing invasive species or painting a school.
Service Break Experiences give you the chance to travel to another community, volunteer and learn about local life. SBEs are built on ongoing relationships between St. Edward’s and the service location and require students to prepare – educationally and spiritually – for several months beforehand. The trips incorporate structured reflections so you’ll integrate what you’ve learned and use it to fuel your charity and justice work going forward. A hallmark of SBEs is their emphasis on living simply – you’ll leave your phone and other luxuries behind.
Many of the organizations where students intern (listed below) also accept volunteers. These are good settings to contribute to an organization’s mission while learning about a potential career path.
All Sociology majors complete an internship of at least 75 hours at a community organization with a mission focused on some form of social justice. Here is where you will apply your knowledge of social inequality; diversity and inclusion; critical thinking; effective communication; and social justice. Sociology majors recently have interned at the following sites:
- Texas Civil Rights Project
- People Organize in Defense of Earth and her Resources (PODER)
- Austin Partners in Education
- Casa Marianella
- Urban Roots
- Autism Society of Austin
- Breakthrough Central Texas
- Youth Advocacy
- Posada Esperanza
- Texas Victims Services Association
- Mothers Against Drunk Driving
- Trinity Center
- Girls Rock Camp! – Austin
- Interfaith Action of Central Texas
- Youth Rise Texas
- Communities in Schools
- Grassroots Leadership
- Go Austin/Vamos Austin
- The SAFE Alliance
- Texas Advocacy Project
- Sierra Club
- Mujeres Inspiradas en Sueños, Metas y Acciones
- Minorities for Equality in Economy, Education, Liberty and Justice Center
- National Alliance on Mental Illness
Major Requirements: The Bachelor of Arts in Sociology requires 42 hours of major courses, which include a combination of different sociology classes, and some global studies, criminology, and psychology. In addition, students choose 9 hours of career-emphasis elective courses that help prepare them for future interests, such as graduate school or their career path in sociology.
Electives: Students complete 24 hours of elective courses in any area of study they choose. These courses do not have to relate to the major.
General Education Requirements: The degree requires 54 hours of general education courses that students complete over four years in addition to their major courses and electives.
View and download the full degree plan for our Sociology major (PDF).
A few examples of courses students in this major take:
Self and Society – Sociology is the study of how groups, organizations, and individuals behave in society. In this course you will learn how to ask sociological questions and analyze social life to understand how things like culture, socialization, power relations, social institutions and group interaction affect individuals.
Beauty, Bodies, and Sexuality – What is the definition of a “normal” and “beautiful” body? How do age, gender, race, social class, sexual orientation, and sexuality shape how bodies are perceived and treated? In this course you will examine these questions, as well as others, through an analysis of the historical and contemporary beliefs and social norms associated with beauty and sexuality.
Families and Intimate Relationships – Sociology is based on the idea that society organizes people’s lives and that individual experiences both reflect and reproduce cultural ideals and patterns. In this course you will explore how the family as a social institution interacts with other institutions and how these larger processes (economic, political, global) shape family, as well as how individual family experiences shape the social world.
"My favorite part of teaching is watching students gain information and skills that they will use outside of the classroom. Through this process, students learn to see the world differently than when they started, and are better prepared to find their own path after they graduate."
– Dr. Rachael Neal, Associate Professor of Sociology
"As a teacher, I view the educational process as exciting, dynamic and clearly remember the moment I discovered Sociology as an undergraduate student. With that memory in mind, I strive to create a classroom environment that embodies these characteristics as we ask and pursue answers to fascinating sociological questions about our ever-changing social world. My hope is that the knowledge and skills students develop in my courses will serve them in their future educational and professional pursuits, as well as make them thoughtful and informed citizens of our global world."
– Dr. Michelle L. Robertson, Associate Professor of Sociology
About the Minor
Students who are interested in learning more about the science of human interaction or who will benefit from the expanded perspective in their chosen career should consider pursuing a minor in Sociology. The Sociology minor requires 18 hours of coursework.
Students who minor in Sociology are required to take the following courses:
- Self and Society
- Social Theory
- Topics in Sociology
- Race, Class and Gender
- Two upper-division sociology courses