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Sociology Major Guide for 2008-2009

What is Sociology

Sociology is the study of social life and the social causes and consequences of human behavior. It investigates the structure of groups, organizations and societies, and their formation, development, and interactions with one another and the natural environment. Since all human activity is social, the subject matter of sociology ranges from the intimate family to the anonymous crowd, from crime to politics, from the divisions of race, gender, and social class to the environmental consequences of economic activities. No matter one’s career aspirations or academic interests, sociology is a diverse field that offers something for every person.
Not only does sociology cover a wide variety of topics; it also draws upon and sharpens one’s ability to gather and critically assess information. Pre-law students find that courses such as Criminology, Criminal Justice, and Society and Law provide a solid foundation for pursuing a legal career. Journalism and communication students are better able to report and analyze events after taking courses such as Social Justice and Social Change, American Society, and Collective Behavior and Social Movements.

Because it addresses so many different dimensions of collective human existence in so many different ways, sociology provides valuable preparation for many kinds of work and areas of study: social work, human services, urban studies and planning, history, political science, education, and environmental studies.

Career Opportunities in Sociology

The college graduate who majors in sociology can secure employment in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. Because training in sociology emphasizes the collection and analysis of both numerical and non-numerical data, sociology graduates commonly find work in research organizations, including market research consultant agencies, survey research firms, and government research departments. Because an education in sociology stresses how and why human groups get along and do not get along, sociology majors frequently secure employment as personnel managers and as technical assistants in law enforcement agencies. Because sociology course work familiarizes students with community life and collective mobilization, sociology majors frequently serve as directors and staff members of organizations that deal with community relations and neighborhood activism. Sociology majors also commonly find work in health and social welfare agencies, and in professions such as counseling, education, and law. Finally, sociology majors may also continue their interest in studying society by undertaking graduate work in sociology.

Salary Trends in Sociology

A degree in arts and sciences prepares students for many types of careers. Your college major is not necessarily the deciding factor in your career choice. As with any degree, pre-professional experience (for example, volunteering, work experience, and internships) increases your chances of obtaining the job you want and affects your potential salary. As a group, graduates in arts and sciences average an annual starting salary of $33,258 (

High School Preparation

While you are still in high school, there are many ways you can prepare yourself for eventually becoming a sociology major and then following a related career path. Concerning high school course work, if possible you should sample a broad range of social science classes, sociology included. Because university-level training in sociology requires mastery of basic computational and statistical skills, completing a full sequence of math courses in high school is a wise idea. A university education in sociology is also enriched by previous exposure to courses in the humanities, most notably history. Since specializing in sociology may well lead to a career in which you work intensively with people and help to solve people-related problems, participating in extracurricular activities and organizations, both inside and outside of high school, should prove to be useful preparation. Examples include taking part in school government and volunteering to aid senior citizens and disadvantaged youth in your community. Finally, because sociology focuses on the dynamics and patterns of social life not only in Tennessee or the United States, but also all over the world, seize whatever chances you have to spend quality “non-tourist” time outside of the region and the country.

How to Major in Sociology

Before applying to the Department of Sociology for admission to the major, you must complete either Sociology 110 or Sociology 120 or their honors equivalent (Sociology 117 or 127) with a grade of C or above. The other prerequisite is Statistics 201. Once you have been granted admission to the major, the department will assign you an academic advisor who will help you design a program of study for the major. If you so choose, you may declare a special concentration in criminal justice or environmental issues and globalization, each of which features attendant requirements.

Requirements for Sociology

The major consists of 27 hours of upper-division hours in sociology and must include 321 and 331 and at least two 400-level courses. Ideally, students will take Sociology 321 and 331 no later than their junior year. 
For a concentration in criminal justice, students must complete all the pre-requisites and upper-division courses required for general majors, as well as 21 hours of upper-division sociology courses. These courses include Sociology 350, 351, 451,one course from either 452, 453, 455, 459, or 495 and three additional courses selected in consultation with an advisor. 
For a concentration in environmental issues and globalization, students must complete all the prerequisites and upper-division courses required for general majors, as well as 21 hours of upper-division sociology courses.  These courses include Sociology 360, one course from either 442 or 446, two courses from 344, 464, 465 or 495, and three courses in consultation with an advisor.

Highlights of Sociology

The undergraduate sociology program features the theme of Social Justice. Faculty members teach courses and conduct research on Social Justice through their varied interests in criminology, environmental issues, political economy and globalization.  The program provides a learning environment that integrates theory, research and public policy about major social problems facing local communities, the nation and the world and identifies their causes, consequences and possible solutions.  International and intercultural dimensions of these problems and others related to race, ethnicity, class, gender and human rights are identified and discussed.  The Social Justice theme is emphasized in courses such as Social Justice and Change (110, 117); Introduction to Global Issues (250); Environment and Resources (360); Comparative Poverty and Development (442); Modern World System (446); Race, Crime and Criminal Justice (452); Gender and Crime (453) and Social Justice and Community Service (495).  The latter course offers qualified seniors the opportunity to gain career experience while receiving course credit through a College-approved Service Learning component and provides fieldwork experience within various service agencies and non-profit organizations.
The concentrations in Criminology and in the Environment provides in-depth understanding, research skills and identifies new developments emerging within these two major subfields of Sociology.  Both are nationally recognized undergraduate programs and are major areas of focus within the department’s graduate studies.  The department also houses the Interdisciplinary Major in Global Studies.  It focuses on how globalization is fostering change in culture, politics, economics, philosophy and the environment and issues related to poverty, democracy, human rights and indigenous movements.  Sociology majors also have the opportunity to join Alpha Kappa Delta (AKD), the honors society of undergraduate and graduate students which sponsors scholarly meetings and gatherings.

Ready for the World logoReady for the World

"Ready for the World” is part of a long-range plan to transform the UTK campus into a culture of diversity that best prepares students for working and competing in the 21st century.  Thus students are encouraged to actively participate in the diverse cultural programs offered on campus.  Some of these events include the guest lecture series, cultural nights at the International House, and international film screenings.  Visit the Center for International Education website ( or the Ready for the World website ( for more information on upcoming cultural programs and activities. 
Students are also encouraged to develop a global perspective within their academic program through study abroad.  Visit the Programs Abroad Office website ( for information on study abroad opportunities.

Learn more about UT's Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today's world.

Sample Curriculum

Freshman Year Credit Hours
English Composition 6
Foreign Language 6
Natural Science Lab Sequence 8
Math 125 or 141 3-4
Sociology 110,117, 120 or 127 3
Social Science 3
General Elective 0-1
Sophomore Year Credit Hours
Non-US History Sequence 6
Natural Science 3
Statistics 201 3
Foreign Language or General Electives 6
Humanities 3
Social Sciences 6
Sociology 321 3
Junior Year Credit Hours
Sociology 331 3
Humanities 3
Communicating Through Writing 3
Upper Level Distribution 3
Upper Division Electives 9
Sociology (major) 9
Senior Year Credit Hours
Sociology (major) 12
Communicating Orally 3
Humanities 3
Upper Level Distribution 3
General Electives 9
GRAND TOTAL (minimum) 120

For More Information

Dr. Scott Frey
Professor and Department Head
901 McClung Tower
Knoxville, TN 37966-0450
(865) 974-6021



The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other programs refer to the UT catalog or contact the department and/or college directly.