What is a Sociology Major?                     

While all social sciences are interested in understanding human behavior, sociology is distinguished by its focus on understanding patterns of  ​human behavior and emphasizing the social forces that shape and influence these patterns. Often, this perspective is surprising and can challenge assumptions of how the world works.The subject matter of sociology is broad—anything about social life one is interested in can be (and likely has been) studied by sociologists. Ultimately, students of sociology develop an appreciation for ways in which social structures and culture shape the world they live in and thus shape their own lives.


This breadth of social life is reflected in the sociology curriculum. After taking SOC 101 Introduction to Sociology, which is a prerequisite for other sociology courses, students are free to pursue other areas of interest. Courses on social institutions (such as religion, medicine, and the criminal justice system), social processes (such as the relationship between the self and society, social movements, and deviance), and social stratification (such as race, class and gender) represent the rich diversity of social life that sociologists are interested in understanding. These offerings are complimented by grounding in social theory and methodology. As a social science, sociological knowledge is based on empirical observation and analysis that is informed by and informs social theory.

The standard major provides a mix of seven core courses and six elective choices. Students with an interest in criminal justice can pursue a concentration in that area taking an additional list of core courses in the criminal justice emphasis. Students who wish to pursue the minor take the introductory course and then choose five elective courses. SOC 101 Introduction to Sociology, and SOC 168 Social Problems, also fulfill Area I General Education requirements. Sociology majors are encouraged to take MATH 140 College Algebra, to fulfill the general education mathematics competency requirement.

Student and Faculty Engagement

In addition to classroom instruction, The Sociology Club and the International Honors Society in Sociology, Alpha Kappa Delta, are active on campus with social and intellectual activities. While sociology provides a useful perspective for any kind of employment, graduates typically find employment in social services, law enforcement, teaching, and research.

 "Western's sociologists organize an annual symposium with other small colleges/universities which provides students an opportunity to present their original research in a professional setting. This symposium is  a great opportunity for students to interact with their peers from other institutions, and to gain experience in making professional presentations in an academic setting.  Western has hosted this symposium three time over the last five years. Topics for student presentations have included: sexual assault, drug use, collegiate athletics, and religion. 

Colorado Statewide Articulation Agreements for Approved Majors:




An introduction to the discipline of sociology with special emphasis on the unique perspective this science utilizes to examine the social world. Sociology is distinguished by its focus on understanding patterns of human behavior and emphasizing the social forces that shape and influence these patterns. Primary course focus is on culture, inequality, race and gender, and social institutions. This course serves as a 'gateway' course for all Sociology majors and minors, and must be passed with a minimum grade of 'C' to be used as a prerequisite. Prerequisite for all 200-, 300-, and 400-level Sociology courses.

 SOC 168 - SOCIAL PROBLEMS (3 credits)

An introduction to the field of sociology through an analysis of social problems in the United States and in the world. Course focus is on topics such as drugs and alcohol abuse, crime and prisons, health and illness, hunger and poverty, resource depletion and pollution, and the effects of globalization.

 SOC 202 - SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY (3 credits)

A formal introduction to classical sociological theories relevant to the discipline. Students learn about the history of the discipline, identify major sociological theorists and their theories, learn how these theories can be applied to various historical and contemporary social issues, and discover the relationship between theory, research, ideology and everyday life. Prerequisite: SOC 101 with a minimum grade of "C."


An introduction to the history and contemporary issues of the criminal justice system (law enforcement, courts, and corrections) in the United States. Topics surveyed include the system¿s history, constitutional limitations, philosophical background, and the system¿s process. Prerequisite: SOC 101 with a minimum grade of "C."


An examination of qualitative approaches to understanding social life. In particular, the course covers selecting a topic suitable for qualitative investigation, participant observation 220 Sociology and in depth interviewing techniques, the ethics and politics associated with doing qualitative research, writing up field notes, formulating topics, reviewing the literature around the topic, the analysis of field notes, and the writing of research reports. Prerequisite: ENG 102 with a grade of “C-” or above

 SOC 320 - THE FAMILY (3 credits)

An analysis of the family as a social group and institution. Students consider the ways in which the family is influenced by demographic changes and by the changes in other social institutions, such as the economy, education, the state and religion. Prerequisite: SOC 101 with a minimum grade of "C."

 SOC 323 - CULTURAL STUDIES (3 credits)

A foundation in the sociology of culture as well as extensive analysis of selected regional, national and/or global (sub) cultures and their environments. Issues covered include the social organization of culture, institutions and narratives, material and non-material culture, and cultural identity and the self. Prerequisite: SOC 101 with a minimum grade of "C."

 SOC 340 - SOCIAL MOVEMENTS (3 credits)

An introduction to the study of social movements with two goals in mind. First, is to expose students to the beliefs, practices, and consequences of a number of important historical, and contemporary movements. Second, the course familiarizes students with the theoretical perspectives, conceptual issues, focal questions, and empirical research that animate the study of social movements. This includes such issues as movement emergence, movement participation, mobilization dynamics, movement strategies and tactics, and movement outcomes. Prerequisite: SOC 101 or ENVS 100 with a minimum grade of "C."

 SOC 349 - LAW ENFORCEMENT (3 credits)

An examination of issues affecting American law enforcement. Students are exposed to the historical underpinnings of the American policing experience, police operations and applications at the local, state, federal, and international levels, law enforcement subculture, police structure and organization, ethics, selection and training, and career opportunities. Prerequisite: SOC 259 with a minimum grade of "C."

 SOC 350 - DEVIANCE (3 credits)

Students examine various forms of nonconformity-criminal and otherwise. To do so, they study the major theoretical perspectives addressing deviance and its control. Students explore how ordinary rituals, agents of social control, and ideology interact to maintain the existing social order. Prerequisite: SOC 101 with a minimum grade of "C".

 SOC 355 - DRUGS AND SOCIETY (3 credits)

An examination of trends and patterns in American drug use, drug classification schemes, the relationship between drugs and crime, and drug education and prevention strategies. The use of hallucinogenic plants in other cultures is also explored. Prerequisite: SOC 101 with a minimum grade of "C."


A description of major theories and concepts associated with social inequality (for example, prejudice and discrimination) and the consequences of the social construction of race/ethnicity, gender/sexuality and class in everyday life. The focus is on the historical and contemporary aspects of inequality in the United States and the links between race/ethnicity, gender/sexuality and class. Forms of resistance to social inequality are also considered including social movements aimed at social change. Prerequisite: SOC 101 with a minimum grade of "C."


Provides senior Sociology majors with a culminating activity in their senior year. The seminar integrates theory, research, and analytic skills and requires written and oral presentations on approved topics. Prerequisite: SOC 101 with a minimum grade of "C."

Faculty & Staff


Lecturer in Sociology and Politics and Government
B.A., Dartmouth College, Philosophy , Ph.D., University of Colorado at Boulder, Philosophy of Education
Phone: (970) 943-2582
Office Location: Kelley 208
Phone: (970) 943-7011
Office Location: Kelley Hall 224
Phone: (970) 943-7011
Office Location: Kelley Hall 223
Professor of Sociology, Director of the Honors Program
B.S., Augsburg College: M.A., Ph.D., University of Arizona.
Phone: (970) 943-3007
Office Location: Kelley Hall 221
Chair, Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences; Professor of Sociology
B.A., M.A., Louisiana State University; Ph.D., Colorado State University.
Phone: (970) 943-2070
Office Location: Kelley 218
Lecturer in Psychology and Sociology
B.A., University of Northern Colorado, Chemistry, Ph.D., University of Denver, Curriuculum and Instruction, M.S. Colorado School of Mines, Chemical and Petroleum Refining Engineering
Phone: (970) 943-2098
Office Location: Kelley 203
Phone: (970) 943-7011
Office Location: Kelley Hall 213