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Sociology studies the way in which the world around us is socially structured. As such, it analyzes processes through which we express our social being—cooperation, exchange, conflict, domination, morality, dependency, violence, crime, social control, and symbolism. Sociology also considers the structures that emerge from these processes: social networks, small groups, families, subcultures, professional affiliations, social classes, gender divisions, race and ethnicity, bureaucracies, social movements, the state, religion, and both popular and “high” culture. Finally, it asks how changes in basic components of a society, such as in the nature of its energy systems, necessarily imply fundamental shifts in social organization, in how people live.
Students can choose from some forty courses taught by faculty who are skilled researchers and devoted teachers. For information on the requirements for the sociology major and minor, see the following:
Both majors and minors find that sociology provides a foundation for multitude career paths, including those in the criminal justice system, community and social services, NGOs, local government, and management. For more information, see:Undergraduate alumni: career pathways
The training our majors receive in research design, statistics, data analysis, and sociological theory helps them compete for positions in various fields. Vanderbilt’s sociology department has special strength in courses for the following career areas:
Medical Sociology at Vanderbilt
The sociology of law and politics
Social entrepreneurship and non-profit organizations
Environmental organizations and policy
Careers in research and teaching
Careers in business, advertising, and public relations
Students in our department discover that they belong to a community of learning and that education is both challenging and fun. Small class sizes allow students to be recognized as individuals. Sociology majors may take advantage of the honors program which helps them to conduct their own in-depth original research under a professor's supervision. They can also pursue internships that combine academic training with learning in a real world setting. Undergraduates also stay in touch through the undergraduate major’s association and Facebook page.
The faculty is committed to making each course relevant to the lives of their students. As teachers, the faculty view learning as an interactive process that requires student participation and viewpoints. Sociology students find that their teachers are accessible and enjoy a close working relationship with them. Many faculty spend as much time counseling students as they do in the classroom, and faculty are also internationally recognized for their scholarly achievements. Vanderbilt’s sociology department is the home of a vibrant, internationally recognized scholarly community.
This nurturing environment manifests itself in student success and achievement. Our students have presented papers at sociological conferences; many of them continue on to graduate school. We encourage our students to stay in contact with us so we can follow their career plans and latest achievements.