Department ofSociology & Social Work

Why Study Sociology?

Sociologists study social life and the social causes and consequences of human behavior. Sociologists investigate the structure and development of individuals, communities, organizations and societies. Few disciplines have such broad scope and relevance.

Why Study Sociology at PLU?

As a student of sociology, you will move beyond the world that is taken for granted. Sociology provides students with distinctive ways of looking at the world in order to generate new ideas and assess the old. Coursework includes analysis of crime, deviance, family and gender issues, race/ethnicity, social class, social problems and inequality. In addition, sociology provides training in a range of research techniques that can be applied to many areas of social life and policy.

Course Curriculum

Students are required to complete 40 credit hours in the major. In addition to required courses, students also take several electives. Students may choose to concentrate these electives in areas of particular interest to them, for example Family/Gender, Crime/Deviance, or Stratification/Inequalities. Many students also complete internships as part of their elective coursework in the major. Majors are expected to maintain a grade point average of 2.5 or above.

The Sociology curriculum at PLU is cumulative, such that the skills developed in lower-division courses set the groundwork for the skills to be developed in upper-division classes. We advise students to select their courses with this curricular philosophy in mind. Our program aligns with the university’s pathways to distinction: Global Education, Student-Faculty Research, and Purposeful Learning. Sociology faculty are involved in Global Education through participation in study-away courses, the International Honors Program, and the Global Studies program. Majors have opportunities to engage in student-faculty research both through participation in faculty member’s research projects and in their own research which is closely supervised by faculty mentors.

What can I do When I Graduate?

Although few occupations include “sociologist” in their title at the bachelor’s level, the sociological perspective is excellent preparation for a wide variety of occupations in social and public services, management, education, government, and business. Students who graduate with a B.A. in sociology and enter the job market directly will find themselves competing with other liberal arts students, but with an advantage – knowledge of key social factors and a firm grasp on research design and methods. This advantage of a sociology major provides breadth and the potential for adaptability.

Sociology majors who are interested in crime and deviance gravitate toward careers in law, law enforcement, and victim advocacy. Students who especially enjoy research design, statistics, and data analysis seek positions in marketing, assessment, public relations, and organizational research. Courses in race/ethnicity, social stratification, and global studies can lead to positions in international business. Students interested in social justice often find meaningful employment in social work or other social service professions.

Additional Opportunities for Sociology Majors

Sociology Internships

One of the hallmarks of the PLU sociology program is the opportunity for you to receive extensive career field training before you graduate. You can gain important career experience at the many public and private social agencies that employ PLU sociology students as interns. Private shelters for battered women, homeless shelters, social welfare agencies and the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office provide ongoing opportunities for you to develop your sociology skills in a work setting. You could also make important contributions and gain valuable experience as a volunteer at agencies such as the YWCA, United Way, the Urban League and Centro Latino.

Johannes and Aleen Schiller Endowed Scholarship

The Schiller Endowed Scholarship began in 1979 by John and Aleen Schiller. Professor John Schiller served as a faculty member, department chair and dean during his tenure at PLU. Professor Schiller continued to play an active role as a program evaluator and service coordinator in Tacoma-Pierce County until his death in 2009. Recipients of the Schiller Scholarship are junior majors and demonstrate academic excellence in coursework and a record of service and community outreach. The call for applications for the Schiller Scholarship is announced in Spring. For more information, please contact the Department Chair.

The Richard Jobst Scholarship in Sociology

The first Richard Jobst Scholarship in Sociology was awarded 2010. In his 40 years at PLU, Sociology Professor Dick Jobst established himself as a master teacher, a staunch advocate for social justice, and someone who embodied PLU’s commitment to marginalized students. Professor Jobst was the go-to advisor for new transfer students, students of color, and first-generation college students. While he connected with students from all backgrounds, students from some of the most vulnerable groups on campus found Dick Jobst to be a powerful ally. The Richard Jobst Endowed scholarship was created by Dick’s colleagues and former students to ensure that his legacy of compassion continues at PLU even after his retirement. The call for applications for the Jobst Scholarship is announced in Spring. For more information, please contact the Department Chair.

Zeta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Delta

Alpha Kappa Delta, the international sociology honor society, was founded in 1920 and currently has over 400 chapters. It is a professional organization dedicated to “the scientific study of social phenomenon for the promotion of human welfare” (AKD Handbook). PLU’s Chapter, Zeta of Washington, was chartered in 1993. In order to be eligible, a student must be an officially declared sociology major, have at least junior standing, have completed at least four (4) regular sociology courses, have a minimum GPA of 3.0 in sociology courses at PLU; and have a minimum overall GPA of 3.3. Applications are processed early spring.

Sociology Club

The Sociology Club is a student-run organization that coordinates a number of academic, professional, and social events throughout the school year. Among its varied activities, the Club sponsors workshops on such topics as finding work with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and selecting and applying to graduate school, invites PLU sociology graduates to speak about their careers in the annual Alumni Panel.