Discover the forces behind social inequality and social change.
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?
Social Work 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.
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.
Faculty and Student Support Services
"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
Student Support Services
Along with personal attention and mentorship from their professors, our students have access to offices and programs outside of the classroom that support their success. We encourage students to take advantage these resources that help them thrive and excel:
- Academic counseling and advising
- Supplemental instruction and tutoring
- Career preparation and advising
- Writing Center consultation
- Health and wellness counseling
- Student disability support
Outside the Classroom
Every Sociology senior will complete an internship during their enrollment in the Integrative Sociology Seminar. These internships provide valuable opportunities for Sociology majors to apply their skills and knowledge to create positive change, receive professional socialization, expand their networks, and explore career opportunities for after graduation. Special emphasis is placed on sociological perspective, social theory, social research methods, statistical analysis, and application.
In the past, our Sociology majors have interned in organizations such as:
- Austin Partners in Education
- Autism Society of Austin
- Casa Marianella
- Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas
- Crockett High School
- C5 Youth Foundation of Texas
- Girls Rock Camp! – Austin
- Go Austin/Vamos Austin
- Mothers Against Drunk Driving
- Posada Esperanza
- Ridge Oak Living Community
- Safe Place
- Sierra Club
- Texas Civil Rights Project
- Texas Victims Services Association
- Trinity Center
- Urban Roots
- Youth Advocacy
This required course provides valuable experiential learning under the supervision of a faculty member and professionals in the field. Through this hands-on experience, students develop practical skills and test theories and principles they’ve learned in the classroom. These are some places where students may seek research opportunities:
- Texas A & M University Summer Institute
- Tisdale Public Policy Fellowship (Summer)
- University of Nebraska Summer Research Program
- University of Michigan Summer Undergraduate Research
- University of Minnesota Undergraduate Research
- University of Delaware Summer Research Initiative
- University of Maryland Summer Research Initiative
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