Why Sociology?

Sociology is the scientific study of social behavior and human social groups from individual families to nations. It has a lot to offer, especially today in an increasingly diverse and globally connected world. Sociology focuses on the ways that social environments, such as family, neighborhood, school, and society influence individuals’ lives. It encourages us to think about complex situations in a new way by showing us how the social environment influences people’s life options, advantages and disadvantages. With sociological knowledge we become more aware of ourselves, of other people, and of the world we all live in. 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.

University Park sociology courses focus on topics that are relevant in today’s world, including family, education, religion, culture, the economy, government, and dimensions of social inequality, such as class, gender, and race/ethnicity. Courses also focus on the statistical techniques that sociologists use to do their research.

Why Criminology?

Every day we read and see stories related to crime, such as celebrity offending, police brutality, drug overdose, homicide, and high profile trials. Are you the type of person who wants to learn more about the facts, statistics, and causes behind these stories? Do you want to understand and defend against social injustice? If so, then Criminology is the place for you.

The Penn State Criminology Program consistently ranks in the top 10 programs in the United States. Majoring in Criminology will prepare you for a wide variety of criminal justice careers, law school or other graduate education programs.

At Penn State, we take a social science approach to the study of crime and the criminal justice system. Our curriculum conveys broad knowledge about crime, criminal justice, and social research methods. The program promotes an understanding of crime and justice and how they are related to human behavior, social environments, and government policy.