Department of Sociology

Contact Information: 
Campus Location: 4112 Behavioral Sciences Building (BSB) 
(312) 996–3005

Head, Barbara Risman
Associate Head and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Lorena Garcia

Sociology is the study of social life, including individuals, groups, organizations, institutions, and societies. Sociologists investigate the social causes and consequences of human behavior and interaction, such as inequality, poverty, discrimination, and urbanization. While offering a general sociology curriculum, the program particularly focuses on how social inequalities are structured and legislated, how they are supported by cultural representations and hegemonic ideologies, and how people navigate and push back against them in their everyday lives. The program specializes in the study of race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, organizations and the economy, global and transnational sociology, political sociology and social movements, and children and youth. Students learn multiple methodological approaches for the study of social life, such as ethnography, in-depth interviews, survey research, focus groups, statistical analysis of secondary data, and the use of comparative historical methods. Sociology majors in the program also explore how to actively use research-based evidence to increase the quality of life for the residents of Chicago, the state, the nation, and the world.

Sociology develops skills in analyzing, synthesizing, generalizing, and communicating information and knowledge. Courses stress both logical and data analysis as well as careful and thoughtful reading, discussion, and writing. Sociology’s subject matter includes relationships among economic, political, cultural, and social factors and explores the impact of such forces on individuals and society. This inclusive framework and general training lies at the heart of a liberal education for lifetime learning.

A major in sociology will prepare students to undertake graduate studies in sociology, and admission to other professional and graduate programs in medicine, health, law, urban planning, social work, education, and business. It is also an excellent preparation for a wide variety of occupations in business and industry, the justice system, community and social services, government, education, social justice, and research.


To be considered for Distinction, students must obtain a 3.00/4.00 overall GPA, plus the following:

  • 3.50/4.00 GPA in the major for Distinction;
  • 3.75/4.00 GPA in the major for High Distinction;
  • 3.75/4.00 GPA in the major, SOC 499, and completion of a senior thesis for Highest Distinction.

Note: The GPA will be calculated using all of the credits that are being applied to the degree—from UIC and from any transfer institution.