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What is Sociology?

Sociology is the scientific study of social behavior and human social groups from individual families to nations. Sociology focuses on the ways that social environments, such as family, neighborhood, school, and society influence individuals’ life options, advantages and disadvantages. Sociology also helps us understand how societies operate and change and the impact of large scale events such as hurricanes, economic recessions, and social movements on individuals, groups, and societies. The workings of societies and the social world are often invisible to us as individuals; sociology helps to make these processes visible to us. Sociology courses at University Park focus on a variety of topics, including those below.

  • social research and statistical techniques
  • family
  • education
  • religion
  • culture
  • the economy
  • government
  • dimensions of social inequality (such as health, social class, gender, and race/ethnicity)

Why Study Sociology?

You might like this program if:

  • you are interested in understanding the social and environmental factors that influence our lives;
  • you would like to learn the skills needed to conduct social research on important topics;
  • you want to understand American society, how and why it changes, and our relation to the global community;
  • you enjoy learning about all kinds of social groups and groups and how individuals interact; and/or
  • you hope to pursue a career in research, education, social/human services, counseling, business, non-profit work, public policy, or the health professions.

Potential Careers

Sociology offers you a background in research, data analysis, statistics, and sociological concepts. You can explore positions in the fields below.

  • Social work
  • Corrections
  • Business
  • Health services
  • Government services

More Information about Careers in Sociology

Opportunities for Graduate Studies

The Sociology degree prepares you for graduate school in sociology. Ranked among the top sociology programs in the nation, the Penn State graduate program in Sociology offers students the flexibility to study a wide range of topics, reflecting both the size and intellectual breadth of the faculty. Our department provides strong training in the areas of Demography, Families, Relationships and Interpersonal Networks, Quantitative Research Methods, Social Inequality, Urban and Community Studies, Health, Immigration, and Incorporation.

More Information about Graduate Studies Opportunities