Sociology Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Degree and Minor

About Sociology

Prepare for exciting career opportunities in the sociology field.

The study of sociology examines human group behavior, interaction and organization. Sociologists observe the activity of social, religious, political and economic groups, organizations and institutions. They examine the effect of social influences, including organizations and institutions, on different individuals and groups. Sociologists also trace the origin and growth of these groups and interactions. For example, they may research the impact of a new law or policy on a specific demographic of people.

You can prepare for these exciting career opportunities with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Sociology at PennWest California. As a sociology major, you’ll study the use of both quantitative and qualitative methods when conducting research, and how to use statistical analysis programs during the research process.

Research in sociology may help administrators, educators, lawmakers and social workers solve social problems and formulate public policy. Sociologists may specialize in a wide range of social topics, including education and health; crime and poverty; families and population; and gender, racial and ethnic relations.

Sociologists who specialize in crime may be called criminologists or penologists. These workers apply their sociological knowledge to conduct research, analyze penal systems and populations, and study the causes and effects of crime. Many people with a sociology background become postsecondary teachers and high school teachers. Most others find work in related jobs outside the sociology profession as policy analysts, demographers, survey researchers and statisticians.

Gain a career advantage with PennWest California’s undergraduate program.

PennWest California students may choose to major only in sociology or may select a second academic discipline to complete a highly marketable dual major that includes sociology and another discipline. The sociology program also offers a popular concentration in social deviance.

PennWest California students may also add a 12-credit certificate in violence and incidence collaborative evaluation (VICES) to their degree as a stackable credential for those anticipating a career in education. The African American Studies minor, like the VICES certificate, overlaps significantly with sociology coursework, making it easy to pursue simultaneously with the sociology major.

Students typically complete the sociology major in four years of full-time study; this time can be expanded for students pursuing their bachelor’s degree part-time.

Program Highlights: Sociology

Multidisciplinary focus. PennWest California’s innovative program in sociology offers you the advantage of multidisciplinary expertise within a single academic program of study. Faculty expertise ranges from sociology to psychology to conflict resolution. The sociology program emphasizes interdisciplinary partnerships across campus to provide collaboration with faculty in theatre, nursing, communication disorders and social work. Sociology was the first discipline in the College of Liberal Arts to require an internship as mandatory for graduation.

Sound foundation. PennWest California sociology students get many opportunities for hands-on experience through internships and field experiences. Students have worked with the Brownsville Area Revitalization Corp., Tripil, Rivertowns, Center in the Woods, Washington Food Bank, and Mon Valley Hospital to plan, implement and report on recommendations to address challenges identified by the organizations based on interviews and participant observation. Students also have collaborated with Studio 224, PennWest California’s graphic design club, on a new map of Brownsville. Sociology students collaborated with the community manager of Vulcan Village, with a pre- and post-test of a green energy education program and an evaluation of residents' knowledge of and attitudes toward environmentally friendly usage of water, electricity and natural resources. Sociology students worked with a consulting firm to carry out a route study to improve public transportation in the areas served. The sociology program facilitated a student team research project that examined the University’s Healthy Habits program to determine how to attract more participants. Students also examined the needs and wants of California borough residents related to recreational facilities and opportunities.

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Student-to-faculty ratio at PennWest California.
Credit hours for the bachelor’s degree in social science, which can be completed in four years.
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Degree Benefits

PennWest California students may work with sociology faculty on research, and they do their own research for course assignments and papers. Sociology majors in the Honors College complete a senior thesis at the conclusion of their final year in the program. PennWest California sociology students may apply for student research presentation opportunities, such as the annual Strike a Spark conference at PennWest California and for the undergraduate student poster competition, or apply for a grant from the undergraduate Guttman Student Research Grant Committee. Students may present their work at the Pennsylvania Sociological Society conference or at the Annual American Sociological Association conference. PennWest California’s Sociology Club enables students to work with faculty to schedule guest speakers on career and internship opportunities, volunteer activities with local animal shelters, and attracting experts to speak on social phenomena such as the growth of tattooing.

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Graduate Outcomes

Near 100% of PennWest California sociology graduates either directly enter the workforce or go on to graduate school in sociology or counselor education. The largest employers of sociologists are: research and development in the social sciences and humanities (31%); educational services; state, local and private (21%); state government (13%); self-employment (11%); and religious, grantmaking, civic, professional and similar organizations (6%). Here’s a sampling of employers and positions held by PennWest California sociology graduates:

  • Allegheny County Adult Probation - Probation officer.
  • Behavioral Dynamics - Behavioral specialist.
  • Bollman Hat Co. - Vice president of sales.
  • Centerville Clinic - Director of behavioral health rehabilitation services.
  • Chicago Title Insurance Company - President/county manager.
  • Citadel Federal Credit Union - Instructor/performance consultant.
  • Commonwealth of Pennsylvania - Human resources management trainee.
  • Community Living and Learning - Program specialist.
  • PLS Logistics Services - National accounts sales representative.
  • The Leader’s Edge - Senior consultant.
  • - Blogger.
  • U.S. Government - Investigator.
  • Verizon Wireless - Customer advocate.

Sociology (B.A.)

Social science degree program students study.

Professional Opportunities

Employment of sociologists is projected to grow 15% through 2022. Sociologists will continue to be needed to apply sociological research to other disciplines. For example, sociologists may collaborate with researchers in other social sciences, such as economists, psychologists and survey researchers, to study how social structures or groups influence policy decisions about health, education, politics, criminal justice, business or economics. Among PennWest California sociology graduates, Rebecca Geiger (2013) is a green dot coordinator and program specialist at Eastern Kentucky University; Branden Rupert (2008) is a professional staff nurse at UPMC McKeesport’s new detox/rehab unit; and Nicole Rountree (2011) is a commerce support engineer for SAP Ariba. 

PennWest California campus tower.

Graduate Study

PennWest California sociology graduates have gone on for advanced study at such institutions as the University of Chicago, University of Maryland, Columbia University and Princeton University. Some sociology graduates choose to remain at PennWest California to earn their master’s degree in counselor education, concentrating either in community counseling or school counseling.

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Student Resources

All sociology students are encouraged to join the Sociology Club at PennWest California and to participate in its activities such as panel discussions, field trips and volunteering in the community. Upper-level students are eligible for membership in Pi Gamma Mu, the social science honor society. Because sociology students conduct various field-based observations and complete internships, both nationally and internationally, they are provided with opportunities for career and professional networking. 


Courses focus on interdisciplinary study of sociology. Students learn to design research projects, collect data and analyze findings and draw conclusions, and explore other aspects of this vital field.

B.A. Curriculum

Course Credits
General Education Courses 40 or 41
Building a Sense of Community
UNI 100  First-Year Seminar
ENG 101  English Composition I
Public Speaking
Any Public Speaking Course
Mathematics and Quantitative Literacy
Any Mathematics and Quantitative Literacy Course
Health and Wellness
Any Health and Wellness Course
Technological Literacy
Any Technological Literacy Course
Any Humanities Course
Fine Arts
Any Fine Arts Course
Natural Sciences
Any Natural Sciences Course
Social Sciences
Any Social Sciences Course
General Education Options
  • Any Ethics and Multicultural Awareness Emphasis Course
  • Any Social Science Menu Course
  • Additional General Education Courses (two courses)
Required Major Courses 15
SOC 100  Principles of Sociology 3
SOC 410  Social Theory and Society 3
SOC 415  Social Research Methods 3
SOC 429  Sociology Internship  OR  SOC 379  Special Problems in Sociology  OR  SOC 495  Seminar in Sociology 3
MAT 205  Statistics for the Health and Social Sciences   OR  MAT 215  Statistics  OR  PSY 220  Descriptive Statistics 3
Related Electives (select eight) 24
SOC 211  Collective Behavior 3
SOC 225  Sociology of Aging 3
SOC 240  Social Institutions 3
SOC 290  Gender and Work 3
SOC 309  Sociology of Sport 3
SOC 315  Social Minorities 3
SOC 316  Urban Sociology 3
SOC 317  Substance Use and Abuse 3
SOC 320  International Women’s Movements 3
SOC 325  Sociology of the Family 3
SOC 378  Charismatic Leaders 3
Any One SOC Deviance OR SOC Applied Elective 3
Free Electives 40 or 41
Total 120

Additional requirements, not counted toward the General Education requirements, include:

  • Special Experience Course (1 course required): Any One SOC Special Experience Course
  • Writing-Intensive Component Courses (2 courses required): Any Two SOC Approved Writing-Intensive Menu Courses
  • Laboratory Course (1 course required): Any Laboratory Menu Course

Program Notes: 42 credits (or 14 courses) of upper-division (300- or 400-level) courses are required.

Minor Curriculum

Course Credits
Required Courses 9
SOC 100  Principles of Sociology 3
SOC 410  Social Theory/Society 3
SOC 415  Social Research Methods 3
Sociology Electives 12
Select four SOC courses (at least one must be at the 300+ level) 12
Total 21


View admissions requirements