Learning Goals and Career Possibilities

Learning Goals and Career Pathways for Sociology Majors

All sociology majors at the University of Southern California will gain a broad knowledge of how society works, and how a sociological understanding can enrich their lives -- personally, professionally, and as citizens of the world.

The skills of a sociologist are the skills required of almost all contemporary professionals. Sociology teaches you not only how society works, but also how social organizations work, how people behave in social interactions, and how groups of people do or do not get along with one another.

Hence, a degree in sociology will prepare you for a wide range of careers, including:
education, government service, law, social work, public health, international development, human relations and marketing, professional management, community and labor organizing, public policy research and development, and academic positions in the social sciences.

Here at USC, the core knowledge and habits of thought offered by the sociology major include:


1) A coherent understanding of the sociological perspective:
  • appreciation for the ways in which supra-individual factors -- social relationships, social policies, local and global institutions, social positioning, social differences, and cultural belief systems -- shape (and are shaped by) the behavior of individuals, institutions, communities, and nations
  • a strong intellectual grounding in classical and contemporary social theory, and depth understanding of the disciplinary emphasis on the interplay of politics, culture, and economics in the making of social life 
  • comprehension of the mechanisms of social order and social change, along with a critical assessment of our own capacity for shaping public policy and instituting positive social change
  • knowledge of the central debates in sociology and their practical impact on public opinion, social understanding, the media, and state and institutional policy
  • an understanding of our own community, and an understanding of the multitude of diverse communities -- within Los Angeles, across the nation, and around the world

2) A solid background in USC Sociology's core areas of scholarly expertise -- social inequality and civic engagement:
  • exposure to the wide array of vibrant sociological subfields encompassed by these broad theme areas, including:
            ♦    studies of race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexualities, and national identities
            ♦    the global order, global change, immigration, nationalism, and human rights
            ♦    popular culture and media, science and technology
            ♦    local and global population studies, demographic trends 
            ♦    family, community, work, and religion
            ♦    social problems, urbanization, violence, poverty 
            ♦    public policy, political sociology, and social movements

3) The analytic skills necessary to understand and evaluate sociological arguments and find answers to complex social questions:
  • the ability to identify and assess the logic of an argument 
  • the ability to effectively convey, explain, and analyze the key theories and concepts of sociological analysis
  • the ability to apply sociological concepts and theory to contemporary social problems

4) Training in the application of sociological knowledge through active social research and civic engagement:
  • broad familiarity with the methods for systematic observation of the social world -- in-depth interviews, ethnography, survey research, statistical analysis, and content analysis of both written and visual documents
  • training to develop research questions, collaborate with others in research design, and plan independent research 
  • direct experience in conducting research using one or more sociological methods 
  • direct experience in civic engagement -- through public service, media projects, involvement with community organizations, interaction through global internet resources, or internships with local, national, or global institutions

5) Preparation to embark on MEANINGFUL CAREERS in occupations that draw on a sociological understanding of the world:
  • the knowledge and training necessary to move forward in the professional fields outlined above, ranging from policy development, marketing research, and organizational management, to community organizing, government service, and doctoral degrees in the social sciences. 
  • training in the habits of mind that will help you succeed in all careers (as well as all life endeavors):
            ♦    critical thinking skills - problem-solving
            ♦    intellectual flexibility - team work & entrepreneurship
            ♦    effective communication - research methods & data analysis

6) Training to be thoughtful and engaged citizens of the world:
  • preparation to be critical consumers of information from the media, the internet, social and political institutions, and local and global organizations 
  • the sociological knowledge for understanding, assessing, and actively participating in a global world.


» » Stay tuned for more information on the careers pursued by USC sociology graduates and sociologists nationwide. And be sure to ask your professors about the rich array of career opportunities made possible by a sociology degree.

  • Sociology
  • 851 Downey Way
  • HSH 314
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-1059