The Sociology Major at Johns Hopkins University helps students develop expertise by exposing them to research and teaching in several areas central to the discipline. These areas include social stratification, economic sociology, political sociology, international development, world-systems studies, cross-national research, race and ethnic relations, medical sociology, sociology of immigration, sociology of education, human development over the life course, the family, and social structure and personality. As a small department, department faculty pride themselves on getting to know students, their interests, and learning goals at a deep level. Students completing the major become conversant with a wide range of theoretical perspectives, the logic of research design, and the tools of data collection and analysis. Additionally, writing and other communication skills are honed.

A major in Sociology is a good choice for students interested in a variety of post-graduation routes. For those planning to go to medical school, the major can be combined with the required pre-medical course sequence. Recent graduates from the department have found positions in non-governmental organizations focusing on international development, research departments of major corporations, local government social service agencies, teaching, and have also pursued graduate school in sociology, public health, medicine, law, urban planning, and education.

Learning Goals

Goal 1

Students will come to understand the ways in which the lives of individuals and social groups are affected by social context and will demonstrate an ability to explain or interpret social phenomena via reference to core sociological concepts (e.g., culture, social structure, agency, socialization, norms, roles, or social institutions).

Goal 2

Students will be able to describe and compare major concepts and theories developed by classical social theorists and use them to analyze social phenomena.

Goal 3

Students will gain mastery of applied statistics including simple description, the logic of statistical inference, hypothesis testing, and methods for addressing research questions of conceptual and practical interest to social scientists. Relatedly, students will learn to critically evaluate the quality of statistical evidence produced by social scientists as featured in research articles, media accounts, or reports written for audiences of policy-makers and educated generalists (i.e., those who are not professional researchers).

Goal 4

Students will demonstrate ability to write a research proposal that is designed to answer a sociological question of interest. Students will demonstrate ability to (a) move from theory and concepts to strategies of measurement, (b) attend to validity and reliability, (c) assess the appropriateness of different data types (e.g., experimental, survey, interview, ethnographic), (d) incorporate research methods frequently used by social scientists, (e) propose an appropriate research design for testing theory-based hypotheses, and (f) apply the logic of causal inference (including acknowledging when such inference is unjustified).

Goal 5

Students will complete a research project (whether individual or group) that incorporates knowledge they have gained from coursework on sociological theory, statistics, research methods, and substantive areas of the discipline. Students will demonstrate ability to identify interesting research questions and theory-based hypotheses, utilize appropriate data collection and analysis methods, interpret empirical patterns, write research reports, and make effective presentations. If the project is designed as a group effort, the research process will demand that every individual make identifiable and significant contributions to the collective product.