[For additional information on Sociology at UC Merced, please visit the Sociology Website]
Sociology is the scientific study of society, social institutions and social relationships. A key contribution of the discipline is that social factors matter; our lives are not only shaped by personal psychology, but also by our place in the social world. Sociology’s areas of inquiry range from intimate family relationships to ties between nation-states; from divisions by race, class, gender and sexuality to shared ideas of common culture; and from understanding the influence of broad-scale social movements to analyzing how adolescents become productive adults. Sociologists help develop theories to understand how the social world works and also use analytic tools to craft policies and create programs that address important social issues, such as neighborhood and educational inequality. Few disciplines offer such a broad scope of relevance for understanding individual and collective relations in society.
The substantive breadth and skills in conducting and analyzing research that sociology majors obtain can be useful for a range of career paths including: business and marketing, criminal justice, education, environment and technology, graduate school, law, public health, leadership in faith communities, non-profit and social service organizations, public policy, social welfare and social work. Students will leave the major with research skills developed in conjunction with knowledge of substantive material relevant to a variety of social service and non-profit research positions. They also will have an excellent basis for pursuing graduate studies in law, sociology and other social and cultural studies programs.
Program Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of the major and minor in Sociology, students will:
- Think critically about the causes and consequences of social inequality.
- Design and evaluate empirical sociological research.
- Explain and apply the major theoretical perspectives in sociology.
- Communicate orally and in writing about sociological concepts.
- Use their sociological education outside of the undergraduate classroom, particularly in their careers or further education.
Refer to the Curriculum Map to see the coherency between the Program Learning Outcomes and our course offerings.
Each year, we assesses the learning experiences of students who major in Sociology to ensure that students are building the necessary skills and knowledge-base in this discipline. The assessments allow our program to engage in continued creative and visionary curriculum and instruction approaches that ensure students are exposed to rigorous undergraduate training. Every discipline has a unique assessment schema and set of student performance benchmarks, reflecting the priorities of the discipline.
From the 2012-2013 program assessment, we examined how well students explain and apply the major theoretical perspectives in sociology (Program Learning Outcome 3). The student population sampled (N=38) included only majors at the senior class level in two upper division courses (SOC100 and SOC132). The students were tested on this PLO with one exam question inserted into the final exam for both courses.
We see that 89% of students demonstrated “Proficiency” overall. 81% of students demonstrated “Mastery” on at least one of the 3 theoretical elements. 35% of students demonstrated mastery on all three elements. The following three elements were under examination for each students’ response:
- Human action is a result of people interacting, and
- Interpreting each other’s actions, and then
- Responding, typically by presenting themselves as they want others to see them
Sociology majors exhibited a higher rate of “Mastery” than the non-majors. On average, the sociology majors had a mean score of 5 (out of 6), while the non-sociology majors achieved a mean score of 4.5.
We also assessed this PLO by surveying students in both courses. In the Sociological Theory course, nearly 80% of the students agreed strongly that the course had improved their understanding and ability to apply major sociological theories. And, 87% of the students in the Sociology of Education course strongly agreed that the course had improved their understanding and ability to apply major sociological theories.
Student graduates from our program are currently engaging in graduate studies and careers. A few of these after-college endeavors are listed below.
Student graduates from the Sociology program are studying at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of North Carolina.
Student graduates from the Sociology program are working in a variety of professional settings including community-based agencies in the arts and culture sector, social services organizations such as United Way, and university administration offices.