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What is Sociology

Sociology is the systematic study of the social forces that shape human experience. Sociology majors at Hood are challenged to explore the complex con- nections between personal attitudes, beliefs and behaviors, and the surrounding societies and cultures.

Sociology seeks to develop an understanding of how race, class and gender shape life chances and lived experience as human beings—a central theme of the courses, curriculum and research interests of sociology faculty members at Hood. Sociology majors leave Hood exceptionally well-equipped to make their mark in the increasingly diverse and rapidly changing world.

Courses within the major challenge students to examine some of the most basic assumptions about the social world and how it operates. Students will study topics such as social problems, race and ethnicity, social inequality, deviant behavior and social control, gender, criminology, juvenile delinquency, human sexuality, sociological theory and globalization.

Why Major in Sociology?

Sociology is an essential ingredient of a strong liberal arts education. Hood's majors graduate with a deepened commitment to social justice and the sort of critical understanding of society, culture and social institu- tions that defines a liberally educated global citizen, and which prepares them to contribute in meaningful ways to the world after they leave Hood.

Sociology courses sharpen students' abilities to write, think, speak, ana- lyze, and synthesize and organize information—all skills that employers say they seek in prospective employees. Students develop an understand- ing of how people interact with each other and within organizations, gain experience working as part of a problem-solving team, have an increased understanding of their own and others' cultures, and have a deeper aware- ness of social problems in the United States and around the world. Hood's program also includes rigorous research training, opportunities for active and experiential learning, and one-credit workshops that emphasize skills such as preparing résumés, writing grant proposals and making oral presentations. Sociology majors are also encouraged to pursue an intern- ship—a community-based learning opportunity that is more directly tied to career plans and aspirations. Recent internship sites include the office of an attorney who specializes in immigration law, the Frederick County Commission for Women, a local battered women's shelter, United Way of Washington County, Goodwill Industries and the Frederick County State's Attorney's Office.

This combination of academic and practical experience means that Hood graduates are well-prepared to work in fields such as social research, community development, marketing, criminal justice and corrections, government, public health, public policy, social services and a variety of nonprofit organizations. In the past few years, sociology graduates have also successfully pursued graduate degrees in fields that include not only sociology, but also anthropology, social work, law, criminal justice, public health, women's studies, public policy, management, marketing, urban planning, higher education administration and counseling.

Additional Learning Opportunities

Hood's small classes and caring, committed faculty offer students multiple opportunities to pursue their own intellectual interests and learning goals. For most students, this means going beyond simply learning about what others have discovered and, instead, discovering and creating knowledge themselves—that is, doing their own research, independently or in collab- oration with other students, faculty members and/or community partners.

Students may work with a faculty member on an independent study related to a specialized topic of your own choosing. Selected students are invited to complete departmental honors theses during their senior year. Recent honors projects in sociology have focused on a variety of topics: modern-day hate groups, hearing children of deaf parents, dental care of the medically underserved, the treatment of homelessness by major U.S. newspapers, the politics of song lyrics and television food advertising aimed at children. Every April, sociology students present their research findings at the Mid-Atlantic Undergraduate Social Research Conference, where they join students from colleges and universities across the region in a profes- sional-style academic conference. Other students have accompanied their professors to regional and national meetings of sociological associations, including the annual meetings of the American Sociological Association, where selected students attend as members of the ASA Honors Program.


In addition to the sociology major, Hood offers a minor in sociology along with two more specialized minors related to sociology: social sci- ence research and criminology and delinquency. The social science research minor is designed for students in disciplines outside of sociology that use social science research methods—such as environmental studies, business management and education—who wish to enhance the research skills that they will need for the job market in their chosen fields. The criminology and delinquency minor is an interdisciplinary one, combin- ing coursework in sociology and social work. It is designed for students who wish to work with people in criminal justice or juvenile justice settings: with juvenile or adult offenders; as expert witnesses regarding mental health, child custody, domestic violence and other issues; or in other settings such as substance abuse programs and correctional facilities. Either minor can be combined with majors in a number of other fields, such as psychology, business administration, law and society or political science.

Learn more about the major and the department.