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College of Liberal Arts

Sociology is the scientific study of human society, investigating social life from interpersonal relationships to the rise and fall of nations. Sociologists examine how society shapes individual and group behavior and how individuals and groups interpret and change society.

San Luis Obispo, California

Sociology offers courses that engage with the complexity and diversity of the world’s people — both their problems and their efforts to affect change.  Classes range from micro-level interactions among individuals and family units to issues shaping the global political economy.

Sociology Course Curriculum

Criminal Justice

This concentration prepares you for careers in law, law enforcement, corrections, detention, probation, parole and other criminal justice agencies.

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Individualized Course of Study

In consultation with an advising faculty member, you can pursue a course of study within sociology based on your own individual needs and interests.


Students learn to apply the general principles of human behavior to the understanding of modern organizations. This concentration prepares graduates for a career in business, government or non-governmental organizations.

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Social Services

This concentration covers the general principles of human social behavior and specialized professional courses to prepare you for a career in the helping professions such as social work and counseling.

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About the Program

A degree in sociology will help you understand and appreciate the diversity of human culture as well as the way social groups and broader society influence individual behavior — and the way individuals can influence social groups.

You are encouraged to critically investigate contemporary issues, asking hard questions about society, social behavior and the environment in the United States and around the world. 

You will develop data collection skills and the ability to recognize issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. You will learn how to interpret social structures and cultural elements within organizations and institutions and analyze issues from multiple perspectives. You will also learn how to create strategies to address problems across California and around the world.

Learn by Doing

You are encouraged to integrate the theories you learn in class with the real world through internships, service learning, study abroad and senior projects. Opportunities are as broad as developing a non-profit organization, working with the San Luis Obispo Mayor’s office on homeless-related issues, conducting research internationally or taking a class with incarcerated students. These internships or volunteer experiences can often be leveraged into research opportunities or even careers.

Close-up of beets at a Farmer's Market on campus.

Feed Those in Need

Research and establish new ways to help provide resources to food insecure students.

Our Graduates

Sociology provides a wide range of practical and marketable skills, including critical analysis of social issues, qualitative and quantitative research, and hands-on learning in the fields of criminal justice, organizations and social work.

Sociology prepares you for careers in law, social services, business, teaching, international work and medicine. Our majors have also gone on to work in business management, city, county and state administration, the non-profit sector, public health and the arts.