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Patricia Richards teaching a small undergraduate sociology in film class.

Sociology - A.B.

About this Degree

Sociology is the study of social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behavior.  It is perhaps the most wide-ranging of the social sciences, a pattern illustrated well by the scholarship of the department’s faculty.  Among the topics that faculty study are:

  • how people respond to injustice
  • why charter schools fail
  • how organizations and mentoring shape careers
  • whether people get the work hours they want
  • how social structures are reproduced during face-to-face interactions
  • how people manage conflict
  • how cultures of professionalism and fatigue shape the work hours and schedules of surgeons
  • why there are ethnic and racial differences in crime and violence
  • how family processes, peer associations, community context, and incarceration affect the risk of criminal behavior 
  • how substance abuse treatment organizations adopt innovations 
  • how and why headhunters match job candidates to positions in the labor market
  • the effects of discrimination and racial socialization on physical and mental health
  • how social institutions like the criminal justice and public welfare systems affect social inequality
  • how victim gender, race, and ethnicity affect outcomes in capital-murder trials and on death row
  • how careers unfold among U.S. Army Generals


Our research takes faculty all over the world, from struggles over resources and indigenous rights in Southern Chile and social movements in Argentina to collecting new sentiments dictionaries in the Arab countries of North Africa and the Middle East.  Our wide-ranging course offerings mirror – and are inspired by – these research interests.


While the humanities and the arts also explore the social world, sociology is distinct because it is a social science.  It uses theoretical frameworks, empirical data, and scientific methods to investigate the social world.  In terms of specific research methods, sociology – and the department’s faculty – makes use of survey research and statistical analyses, in-depth interviews and ethnography, network analysis, experimental techniques, and content analysis of both contemporary and historical written and visual documents.  Theoretical and methodological pluralism characterize the discipline and the department.

What you will learn

The major is designed to teach undergraduate students the sociological perspective, which incorporates three central foci:

  1. The recognition of the preeminence of social structures and their influences, and of micro and macro-level social processes.
  2. The role of the scientific method in the acquisition of knowledge.
  3. The enduring link between the individual's experience and larger social processes.

By deciding to major in sociology you have chosen a liberal-arts specialty that leads to a wide range of career options in government or business. In addition, a sociology major provides a solid foundation for further post-graduate study in law, business, public health, and the social sciences.

The department offers a wide range of courses on interesting topics.  All undergraduate Sociology majors take required classes in theory and methods, the latter always in small classes (enrollment is limited to 15 students) to give them as much opportunity as possible to get hands-on research experience.  Many of our best majors also work on independent projects with faculty.  At least two of our classes every semester are writing intensive, and we offer three to four classes a year in study-abroad programs, including one class with a service-learning component. 

The sociology curriculum provides repeated experiences wherein students pose sociological questions and bring data to bear on them, making full use of computer technologies.  Courses underscore the centrality of race, class, gender, social structure, and culture in society and in sociological analysis. In the process, they expose students to comparative and international materials. More generally, the major develops student capacity for abstract thought, critical analysis, and for effective written and oral communication.

Other Degrees/Programs Offered:

Double Major in Sociology 

Sociology/criminal justice double majors may count up to six hours of approved criminal justice courses toward their sociology major. If you wish to pursue two majors, you are responsible for learning what courses are required by your second major and for coordinating these requirements with those in the sociology major.  

Sociology Study Abroad Program

Sociology faculty often teach classes in UGA study-abroad programs in the United Kingdom,  FranceItaly and in the University of New Orleans program in Austria.


Barrow Scholarship

The Phyllis Jenkins Barrow Scholarship is awarded annually to a graduating major who is a Georgia resident and has excelled academically.

Ray Payne Award

The Ray Payne Award is awarded annually to a graduating major whose performance demonstrates commitment to sociology and a high potential for professional development in the discipline.

Additional information can be found here.

More Undergraduate Scholarships & Awards

Although few occupations include "sociologist" in their title at the bachelor's level, a sociology major is an excellent springboard for many different jobs in both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations.  The sociological perspective is crucial for working in today's multi-ethnic and multi-national business environment.  An undergraduate sociology major provides valuable insights into social factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, age, education, and social class that affect social interaction, group dynamics, and organizational processes.

If you are approaching graduation (or have recently graduated) and are seeking a job in the business world, focus on general areas of interest that motivate you. Sociology majors who are interested in organizational theory gravitate toward organizational planning, development, and training. Those who study the sociology of work and occupations may pursue careers in human resources management (personnel) and industrial relations. Students who concentrate on crime, deviance, and punishment often pursue opportunities in various local and state criminal-justice agencies.  Those who especially enjoy and excel at research design, statistics, and data analysis seek positions in marketing, public relations, and organizational research.


Recent graduates with a sociology major contacted by the Career Planning and Placement Office at the University of Georgia list the following employers and job titles, which serve well to illustrate the wide variety of options afforded by the major: 


General Research Information:

The Sociology Department’s Undergraduate Research Mentoring Program is designed to help our majors gain admission to highly competitive graduate programs in sociology. The Program allows students to work with a faculty member on his or her research or on a student-selected research project. In addition, the student will take a graduate level research methods course (SOCI 6620 or 6750). 


  • Open to all students considering going to graduate school in sociology (only).
  • Applicants must have received an A in SOCI 3590 or 3600 (or obtain a letter from their methods instructor and the permission of the Undergraduate Coordinator).
  • Applicants must also have identified a faculty member who has agreed to serve as a research mentor.

Application Procedure

Applicants should submit a letter to the Undergraduate Coordinator describing their research interests, reasons for wanting to participate in the program, and future career plans. The letter should also indicate which faculty member has agreed to act as a research mentor. The application letter from the student, which should list the student's postal and email addresses and phone number(s), is due by April 15th. 

The application must also be accompanied by a brief letter from a faculty member which 1) indicates that he or she is willing to serve as the research mentor and 2) describes the research project the student will complete.

Approval of Applicants

  • All applications will be reviewed by the Undergraduate Coordinator.
  • The faculty mentor will determine which graduate methods class (Soci 6620 or 6750) is most appropriate for the student.
  • Final selection requires the agreement of the instructor of the graduate methods class.
  • Once accepted into the program, the faculty mentor and student will sign a written agreement outlining the faculty member's expectations of the student and the general type of research activities the student is likely to perform.

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