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In our quickly changing, globalizing world, sociology prepares you to work with diverse groups of people and helps you develop the skills to both gather and critically analyze information.

Why Sociology?

Do you ever find yourself watching what people do? Are you curious about how we are influenced by our social environment?

Do you search out stories about social issues, trends, or problems? If you answered yes to any of these questions, sociology is a good major for you.

In sociology, you learn to use scientific research methods to explore a wide variety of topics, including the organization of human interaction, the influence of groups on behavior, the structure of societies, patterns of social change, and the role of institutions in social life.

Students of sociology seek to understand the world around them from a historical, critical perspective, and the tools gained from studying sociology are relevant to both personal and occupational success.


After completing SOC 101: Understanding Society, students move into upper-division content and skills courses. We offer a variety of courses each semester that enable students to gain a better understanding of the complex social world in which they live.

Students can study topics focusing on social diversity and inequality, including race, gender, social class, and globalization; as well as topics such as the family, immigration, education, criminology, deviant behavior, health and medical issues, film, and social psychology.

Degree Options

There are Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BS) degrees available with this major.

More about this Major


Sociology is a diverse discipline that can lead to a variety of successful careers. Graduates go on to careers in:

  • counseling
  • criminal justice
  • human and social services
  • human rights and social justice advocacy
  • marketing and public relations
  • social research
  • program evaluation and analysis
  • teaching
  • law
  • and medicine, among many others.
Our graduates have gone on to graduate programs at UCLA, University of Georgia, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Texas A&M, University of Alabama-Birmingham, New Mexico State University, and University of Massachusetts-Amherst, among others.
Making Sociology my major as an undergrad was the first step I took toward making my life what I wanted it to be.

Courses You Might Take

SOC 214: The Family

Family members sitting in garden

The goal of this course is to give students the tools to look analytically at something we all know very well: the family. We all have intimate experience with our own families, but we do not always see how social, economic, political, and cultural forces shape both our own families and families that are very different from our own.

SOC 340: Deviant Behavior

A hand held up as a warning

What makes something “deviant” or “normal”? How do we know? Why do some people conform to what is expected while others violate norms? When you are labeled deviant, what impact does that have? This class will focus on these and other central questions in the sociology of deviant behavior. 

SOC 341: Criminology

A long corridor with prison cells

The major purpose of this course is to introduce the student to the field of criminology, the concept of crime, and the dilemmas modern criminologists face when they conduct research. Through this course, student learns to understand that criminology is a multi-disciplinary approach and there are no easy answers to crime causation and crime control. 

SOC 350: Race and Ethnicity

Diverse human hands

This course will focus on race and ethnicity from a sociological perspective and cover topics such as race and ethnic categories and identities, prejudice, discrimination, and multiculturalism, among many others. Based on scholarly research, this course gives students an understanding of race and ethnicity not only as groups but importantly also in relation to social processes that enhance or inhibit social equality. 

SOC 355: Collective Behavior and Social Movements

A crowd at a demonstration

This course focuses on the ways in which collective behavior and social movements relate to sociocultural change. Students study patterns in group behavior that arise outside of conventional norms. Students also explore social movements and how people come together to try to promote social change. Students will think critically about issues involved in social movement emergence, recruitment, strategies, and outcomes.

SOC 360: Globalization

World flags

This course is designed to introduce students to the fundamental concepts and some of the keys issues surrounding globalization and international development. The course will address various dimensions of globalization in the modern world, including politics, economics, social and cultural diversity, human rights and the environment, while examining some of the major debates surrounding globalization.

SOC 423: Sociology of Health

Prescription pills and cash in various denominations

This course is about exploring health and illness from a sociological perspective. As such, students examine how health is more than a biological concept. Topics covered include health care delivery, alternative therapies, social epidemiology, and the lived experience of illness.

SOC 427: Sociology and Film

Crowd looking at a screen

This course explores the world of film through the eyes of sociology. In this online course, students study films from the U.S. and other nations in relation to sociological research on the media. Students address the role of the media in people’s lives, examine the organization of film industries, and analyze representations of race/ethnicity, gender, crime, and more in these movies.

SOC 462: Methods of Social Research

Collection of data on a digital screen

The social sciences are in the business of trying to figure out how the social world works. To this end, students in this course will conduct their own original research that includes formulating research questions, devising hypotheses and theories, designing studies, collecting and analyze data, and producing reports.

Meet Some of Your Professors

Dr. Dana Fennell

Associate Professor

Favorite Course:  SOC 425: Food, Culture and Society

Expertise: Health, the environment, the sociology of knowledge

Dr. Katie James

Assistant Professor

Favorite Course: SOC 101: Understanding Society: Principles of Sociology

Expertise: Gender, justice, unpaid labor

Dr. Ann Marie Kinnell

Associate Professor and Department Chair

Favorite Course: SOC 405: Nonprofits and Social Change

Expertise: Volunteering, service learning, student civic engineering

Dr. Kari Kozlowski

Assistant Professor

Favorite Course: SOC 426: Education

Expertise: Sociology of education

Dr. Julie Reid

Associate Professor

Favorite Course: SOC 360: Globalization

Expertise: International development, globalization, gender, race

Dr. Matthew Ward

Assistant Professor

Favorite Course: SOC 460: Quantitative Methods

Expertise: Social movements, immigration/border issues, contemporary racial/ethnic disparities, legacies of racial/ethnic violence and minority social control in the United States

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Southern Miss undergraduate degrees are available online, at the Hattiesburg campus, at the Gulf Park campus, and/or through a hybrid delivery that includes both online and on-campus courses.