PROGRAM OVERVIEW Cultivate your "sociological imagination," your ability to make connections between personal experiences, social structures, culture, and history.

Learn new ways to understand your life and activities in a social context. Our students connect intellectually and personally with sociology coursework, think critically about their classroom experiences, consider thoughtfully the larger world, and gain a sense of the moral and ethical implications of the production and application of sociological knowledge. 

Sociology is the study of human action from the point of view of social interactions—covering everything from the analysis of short contacts between anonymous individuals on the street to the study of global social processes. Students in our courses apply rigorous theories and methods of social inquiry to real-world problems. Our department specializes in outstanding training in multiple methods of social inquiry, including ethnography, documentary film, qualitative interviewing, historic/archival research, and survey research. We also teach students to work with critical social theories, which explore social inequality, the relationship between language and power, and the social construction of reality.

Sociology examines the complexity of social life and sociologists study topics that range from enduring forms of inequality to interactions between individuals and from the formation of personal identities to the organization of collective movements for social change. At Drake Univeristy, sociology students prepare to engage critically and thoughtfully with urgent social issues. They graduate ready to pursue postgraduate training or professional work in social services, business and law, highter education, and other fields. The sociology program combines training in social theory and research methodology with elective courses that focus on social institutions, experiences, and processes. Students in the sociology program have significant experiences in community-engaged learning through research assignments, service-learning, and internships.

DEGREE OPTIONS Bachelor of Arts in Sociology

PROGRAM SIZE Approximately 70 students currently major in sociology, including a number of double majors. The average class size is 25 students. Many upper-division classes are smaller.

FACULTY Sociology faculty serve as academic advisers for majors, minors, and open-enrolled students. In addition to the seven full-time faculty who teach in the program, a small number of part-time faculty contribute. They are active professionally, publish regularly, and are involved in other national and local community organizations.

ACADEMIC PREPARATION There are no prerequisite high school courses or requirements needed for enrollment in the sociology program, but students should have a well-rounded academic high school curriculum.

REQUIREMENTS FOR MAJOR A minimum of 36 credit hours in sociology is required. Students complete coursework in research design, theory, and community-engaged learning. No more than six hours of anthropology courses may count toward the major (but anthropology courses taken to fulfill the methods- or theory-intensive requirement for the sociology major need not count as part of this limit). Students completing the sociology major may not earn a major in anthropology and sociology (ANSO).

REQUIREMENTS FOR MINOR A minimum of 18 credit hours is required. The hours must include SCSS001, Sociological Inquiry, and an additional 12 hours of sociology and anthropology courses selected in consultation with a sociology faculty adviser to fit the career or academic goals of the student. A maximum of six hours in anthropology courses may be part of the 18 required hours. No more than nine hours of transfer credit are allowed for the minor.

DRAKE CURRICULUM The Drake Curriculum, required of all undergraduates, is designed to help students meet personal and professional goals as they acquire fundamental knowledge and abilities in ten Areas of Inquiry, including communication, critical thinking, artistic experience, historical consciousness, information and technology literacy, international and multicultural experiences, scientific and quantitative literacy, values and ethics, and engaged citizenship. Students work closely with their academic advisers to craft a program of study in general education that prepares students for civic and professional leadership.

The Drake Curriculum also requires a First Year Seminar, which foster development of critical thinking and written and oral communication skills through a topical focus, and a Senior Capstone, in which students demonstrate the capacity to bring information, skills, and ideas to bear on one project.

INTERNSHIPS & OPPORTUNITIES Sociology majors have internship experiences in private and public agencies related to career and academic goals. Each student works with a faculty member to ensure the best possible learning. Such internships may take students into law offices, agencies such as the Department of Elder Affairs or Children and Family Services, probation offices, mental health treatment centers, homeless shelters, domestic violence centers, or human resources offices. Through the internship, students have the opportunity to bring their academic understanding to focus in the world outside the University. Students can complete independent and faculty-collaborative research to present at regional and national conferences.

A digital film-editing lab is available in Howard Hall for student digital video projects. The lab makes digital video cameras available to students and includes several Macintosh editing stations.

CAREER OPTIONS The major is excellent training for careers in law and public administration, medicine and public health, activism, social work, advertising and marketing, politics and public policy, business, banking, and consulting, to name just a few. Sociology students have used their work in sociology to enter government positions, primarily in areas of social policy. Other students pursue careers in the criminal justice system, including the FBI. Students also enter private business and management careers. Recent graduates have gone to graduate school in social work, business, law, paralegal studies, sociology, criminology, and anthropology. Sociology also helps you to become a more informed citizen and community member. A major in sociology is particularly well-suited to the student interested in shaping a career plan that reflects the details of his or her own past experiences, work, volunteer and socially responsible activities, and future aspirations.

HONORS Qualified students are invited to receive departmental honors. The McNurlen Award is given annually to the most outstanding senior sociology major, and the McNurlen Scholarship is given each year to the most outstanding junior sociology major. Sociology majors are eligible for membership in state, regional, and national academic associations.

STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS AND ACTIVITIES Alpha Kappa Delta is a national honor society open to students who have completed 12 hours of sociology courses with an overall GPA of at least 3.0.


  • Eric Torgerson, AS'93, account executive, Discount Mortgage Inc., Savage, Minn.
  • Tammy Ko Robinson, AS'96, director of SFAI's City Studio program and faculty in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Anne Wallestad, AS'98, President & CEO of BoardSource, Washington, D.C.