Sociology program

MUndergrad major mUndergrad minor

Have you ever thought about what shapes the world around you?

Sociologists study human experiences, issues and problems from love and marriage, to war and revolution. Patterns of social interaction in society can influence lives both positively and negatively. Sociology helps us understand how society works and exposes hidden structures of authority and power that can change social outcomes.

UWL's Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice helps students apply the study of sociology to real world situations by connecting them to opportunities such as internships, volunteer activities and a semester-long investigation of a sociology-related topic of their choice. If you're curious about how the world works, start asking more questions with us.

What is sociology?

Sociology is the study of human groups and how the group influences social behavior. The field is both a science and a philosophy, seeking to answer questions about human behavior through the use of scientific methods. Sociology gives us new and important knowledge about the social world. The focus of the sociology major is to prepare students with the methodological background and analytical skills necessary for working in today’s world, while allowing students to gain a basic understanding of a variety of areas within sociology such as social stratification, criminology, social psychology and comparative sociology.

My capstone sociology research project was kind of the Wisconsin Idea in motion. I was developing skills from my coursework and applying it to the real world.

Fred Ludwig

Sociology jobs

Independent work as a “sociologist” requires additional skills obtained through graduate degree programs. But many sociology graduates do not go on to pursue a career specifically related to sociology. They instead apply their knowledge to nearly limitless career opportunities where empathy, insights about social influences, and research and analytical skills are valued. Sociology majors often pursue jobs in human service/non-profit fields that tend to pay less than business/for-profit related fields, however, they are rewarding in other ways. Sociology majors’ earnings are typically similar to those of other liberal arts majors. See the department career page for more information.

Further education

Internships

  • Cerebral Palsy, Inc. therapy assistant
  • City of Onalaska human resources intern
  • Coaches Corner sports social marketer
  • Coulee Council on Addictions intern
  • Crisis Hotline advocacy trainer
  • Family & Children's Center residential care staff
  • Gundersen Health Clinic Global Partners intern
  • Hmong Mutual Assistance Association intern
  • Innovative Services youth behavioral specialist
  • La Cross Area Family Collaborative database assistant
  • La Crosse County Health & Human Services business analyst intern
  • La Crosse County probation and parole intern
  • New Horizons resource advocate
  • Onalaska Police Department reserve officer
  • Riverfront, Inc. case manager
  • Riverfront, Inc. human resources corporate talent development intern
  • Student Conservation Association intern
  • The Pageant Planet intern
  • Vernon County sobriety court intern
  • WI State Public Defenders Office Intern

Graduate school

  • Sociology
  • Anthropology
  • Social work
  • Criminal justice
  • Marriage and family counseling
  • School counseling and guidance
  • Psychology
  • Law
  • Medicine
  • Business
  • Public health
  • Urban planning
  • Theology

 

 

 

Careers

Community and Social Services

  • AmeriCorps or Peace Corps member
  • Counselor
  • Child care worker
  • Group home worker
  • Manager of group home for children
  • Non-profit agency fundraiser
  • Social service agency worker
  • Substance abuse group worker
  • Volunteer services director
  • Recreation activity leader
  • Social security administration caseworker

Criminal Justice

  • Border patrol agent
  • Correctional officer/jailer
  • Law enforcement officer
  • Probation/parole officer
  • Juvenile detention center worker
  • Insurance claims investigator

Human Resources

  • Employment counselor
  • Job service specialist
  • Labor relations manager
  • Personnel administrator

Business & Management

  • Advertising
  • Banking
  • Customer service representative
  • Insurance
  • Public Relations
  • Stockbroker

Applied Sociology/Research

  • Market/consumer research analyst
  • Opinion survey researcher
  • Grant writer/assistant

What distinguishes UWL's sociology program?

Student club

The Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice supports the student-led and organized Sociology and Social Issues Club, which is open to all interested students regardless of major or minor. The group provides opportunities for informal discussions, student-organized field trips, community engagement, and faculty-student get-togethers. 

Sociology capstone experience

The sociology capstone allows each student, working closely with faculty, to design and complete a semester-long investigation of a sociology-related topic of their choice. Students gain firsthand experience conducting professional research, and hone the information gathering and analysis skills that they can use in graduate study, community engagement or future career endeavors.

Internships, career exploration and community engagement

Internships, community engagement and career exploration are at the forefront of department faculty interests, and faculty consistently provide the encouragement, support and advising students need to participate in these activities.

Research opportunities

Sociology faculty research and publish on a wide variety of topics and often provide opportunities for students to take part as research apprentices. This has led to student and faculty co-authored publications in the past, and it provides opportunities for students to engage in their own independent research projects that have led to conference presentations and many student research awards from professional sociology associations. 

Diverse faculty expertise

Faculty specialize in diverse areas such as small group dynamics, crime, delinquency, victimization, family relations, ethnic and cultural minorities, intersectionality, education, health care and illness, aging, disability, demography, gender, environmental studies, and social movements. Areas of concentration include the sociology of health and illness, sociology of gender, criminal justice, demography and social stratification, and social psychology.

Faculty recognized for teaching and engagement

Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice faculty have consistently earned honors at both the college and university level for their teaching, service, research and community engagement activities including three faculty awarded university-wide teaching excellence awards; four faculty members recognized for college-wide excellence in research awards; two college-wide excellence in teaching awards; two college-wide excellence in service awards; and one college-wide community engagement award.

One-on-one support

The Department of Sociology & Criminal Justice prides itself on providing students with opportunities to learn and work with faculty in pursuit of educational goals. The department provides advising with faculty and peer tutors to help students meet course challenges, and navigate the Sociology and Criminal Justice program. Faculty advisers can also assist students in identifying a wide range of career opportunities.

Make a difference in your world

While sociologists can uncover hidden structures of power and authority that influence our lives, their insights can also lead to change in the form of new solutions and opportunities for expanding personal, social and business developments.

Sample courses