What is Sociology?

Sociology explores social life in all its fascinating variety, and the relationships among and between social groups.

Course offering statement

The Department of Sociology is excited to offer courses to help students process, historicize and critique the various forms of inequalities that continue to shape society and differentially impact its members. Many of our classes will incorporate sociological analyses of the COVID-19 health pandemic as well as the ongoing social movements across the world for racial justice and police reform. Through our curricula we will directly analyze the origins and present-day impact of anti-Blackness, institutional racism, and the intersection of race, gender, class, sexual orientation and religion in the creation and maintenance of structural inequalities in society. We invite you to take a look at our course offerings and think about how to incorporate some of them into your learning experience.

Two fists raised

In honor of the Juneteenth commemoration, we invite you to read the article Break This Down: Juneteenth by Prof. Celia E. Naylor, posted on the Barnard website. Prof. Naylor explains the history behind Juneteenth (June 19) and how it fits into our current climate.


Logo for series. Background is dark blue on top fading to light blue on bottom. Text says IRAAS Black Lives Columbia University African American and African Diaspora Studies Department

Racial inequality. Income inequality. Structural inequality. Health inequality. The novel coronavirus crisis has exposed issues of inequity and injustice that continue to shape local and nationwide responses. Introducing you to a podcast series, "Black Lives: In the Era of COVID 19." Join Columbia University professors Samuel K. Roberts, Jr., Mabel O. Wilson and their guests as they discuss the impacts of COVID19 on Black life in New York City and beyond.

Our course and research topics range far and wide:

From the big global forces that shape migration, immigration and refugee status in the United States and elsewhere, to the most personal of identity group membership and structural inequalities faced by our children;

From the powerful impact of law and politics on the design and flow of urban life, to the changing boundaries of gender, race, class and ethnicity;

From social life shaped by medicine, education, family and other hierarchical institutions, to the most intimate realm of sexuality and the body;

From the organization, ideology and functioning of social movements that shake established structures, to the use of social media, popular culture, and political speeches to translate something significant about our contemporary society;

From the complex entangled forces of labor markets and demographic change that produce inequality, to the micro forces that shape Wall Street traders and art auctioneers ...

And that's only for starters...

And that's only for starters: Sociology students can either develop a broad knowledge in a diverse array of subjects or proficiency in a concentrated topic or subfield.

Sociologists offer a distinctive, often surprising take on the topics that consume friendly discussion and public policy debate, television punditry and social movement rhetoric. They do so by deploying careful research methods to expose what the casual observer often cannot see. 

Whether Sociologists look to...

Whether sociologists look to humanist, historical, or scientific endeavors for their inspiration, it is this ideal of rigorous methodology that lies at the heart of the field, and imparting it defines our undergraduate mission. Such proficiency equips our students with skills, not just for their academic courses but for the entire array of professions and experiences that beckon them.

What can be done with a major...

What can be done with a major in sociology?

Here are some fields and professions that sociology majors have gone into after graduation:

Sociology Digital Advertising and Marketing
Social Science Research Medicine
Law Information Technology
Leadership in Non-Profit Organizations Politics
Teaching Athletics
Urban Planning Social Service Administration and Public Policy
Arts and Culture Theology