A recent graduate told us: “Studying what is going on around the world as a sociology major, you discover how you can make a change.”
A recent graduate told us:“…while it’s a small program on campus that’s a positive because we become like a family and have become closer with our professors.”
As a recent graduate told us: “Marymount opened doors and presented opportunities that allowed me to grow and find my passion.”
Sociology Program Requirements and Information
About Our Department
Faculty in the Department of Sociology at Marymount University value diversity and will foster inclusive classrooms in which all students — independent of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, disability, or immigration status —contribute to classroom activities, and become engaged members of our university community. In our curriculum and in our teaching, we challenge individual and systemic discrimination, and we evaluate the role that historical injustices continue to play in our communities. By promoting mutual recognition and respect across our differences in the classroom, we hope to better understand the world from multiple perspectives ourselves, and to cultivate that understanding in our students. Valuing our differences makes it possible for us to address the vexing social challenges we face today.
Sociology Major requirements
(33 credits )
To fulfill the requirements of the major, all students in this program will take the following coursework in a sequence determined in collaboration with a faculty advisor. All students must also fulfill the Liberal Arts Core (LAC) and University requirements, most of the courses in the sociology program also fulfill LAC requirements.
- SOC 131 Principles of Sociology
- SOC 203 The Global Village
- SOC 251 Working for Justice, Working for Change
- SOC 350 Social Justice
- SOC 351 Addressing Injustice: Research Methods
- SOC 495 Senior Practicum
- SOC 497 Community Engagement Experience
- Four major electives:
- SOC 200 Law and Society in Global Perspective,
- SOC 204 Cultural Diversity,
- SOC 261 Through the Sociological Lens I,
- SOC 306 Social Inequality in Arlington,
- SOC 322 Racial and Ethnic Diversity,
- SOC 361 Through the Sociological Lens II,
- SOC 365 Gender Inequality in Global Perspective,
- SOC 375 Topics in Human Rights,
- SOC 385 Global Inequality and Community Development
Five (5) courses or a total of 15 credits:
Two core courses (6 credits)
SOC 350 Social Justice
Select one: SOC 251 Working for Justice, Working for Change OR SOC 351 Addressing Injustice: Research Methods
Select three electives:
- SOC 200 Law & Society in Global Perspective
- SOC 203 The Global Village
- SOC 204 Cultural Diversity
- SOC 222 Race & Ethnic Diversity
- SOC 261 Through the Sociological Lens I
- SOC 306 Power, Wealth & Inequality
- SOC 361 Through the Sociological Lens II
- SOC 365 Gender Inequality in Global Perspective
- SOC 375 Topics in Human Rights
- SOC 385 Global Inequality & Community Development
- SOC 395 Cities in the Twenty-first Century
In addition, you can combine your sociology major with an interdisciplinary minor, such as:
With careful planning you can easily complete two majors within the 120 credits required for graduation. For example you can combine your interest in the major social challenges of our times such as immigration, human rights, cultural diversity, gender or racial inequality with other majors at the university.
The following planning guides give you an idea of how this might work with other social science fields:
- Sociology and Psychology
Talk with your advisor to ensure the proper sequencing of the requirements. To read more about the potential of double majors, check out “Does it pay to get a double major in college?” PBS NewsHour: Economy. March 30, 2017.
SOC 121 Principles of Sociology
The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the discipline of sociology. Students examine the sociological perspective, observe inequality, and explore the importance of culture, social institutions, and social construction. By developing these sociological insights, students gain a stronger appreciation for diversity and sharpen their critical thinking skills. Liberal Arts Core/University Requirements Designation: SS-1. (3)
SOC 131 Principles of Sociology in Global Perspective
The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the discipline of sociology by exploring the impact of social forces on everyday life. Students consider how the sociological perspective yields insights about inequality, the importance of culture, the nature of social institutions, and the impact of social construction. By applying these sociological insights, students gain a stronger appreciation for diversity and local-to-global connections and sharpen their critical thinking skills. Liberal Arts Core/University Requirements Designation: GP, SS-1. (3)
SOC 200 Law and Society in Global Perspective
How does the academic field of law and society contrast with popular conceptions of the law? This course explores the relationship between law and inequality by taking a sociological perspective that critically examines law in context. Applying a global perspective, we compare how various social forces shape the way laws are formed, practiced, and changed in countries around the world. Liberal Arts Core/University Requirements Designation: SS-1. (3) NOTE: This course is not a prerequisite for upper-division sociology courses.
SOC 203 The Global Village
Does social life still take place within national borders? Globalization refers to the increasing connectedness of people around the world. Corporate growth, modern transportation, and technological innovation facilitate this connectivity. In this course, a sociological perspective is used to examine how this increasing global interdependence impacts daily life and the meaning of citizenship in the new global village. Liberal Arts Core/University Requirements Designation: GP, SS-1. (3)
SOC 204 Cultural Diversity
What are the benefits and challenges that occur as our communities become increasingly diverse? The process of globalization increases our exposure to diverse cultures and ethnic traditions that characterize the peoples of the world. This rich diversity can form the foundation for addressing the global challenges we collectively face or can be viewed as a polarizing force that generates conflict. This course focuses on the key sociological concepts, skills of intergroup dialogue, and analytical tools from the social sciences. Prerequisite: EN 102. Liberal Arts Core/University Requirements Designation: SS-1, WI. (3)
SOC 222 Race and Ethnic Diversity
What does it mean to say that race is a social construction? In this course, we begin with the assumption that the study of race requires us to take a critical look at ourselves and consider how notions of race have shaped our opinions, attitudes, and modes of engagement with those who are ‘different’ from us. We examine sociological concepts like racial formation and intersectionality through critical engagement with academic research as well as creative sources to gain the broadest possible understanding of the dynamics of race and ethnicity in everyday life. Prerequisites: SOC 121, SOC 131, SOC 203, SOC 204, or permission of the instructor. Liberal Arts Core/University Requirements Designation: SS-2. (3)
SOC 251 Working for Justice, Working for Change
So you want to make a difference? But where to begin? This course examines a range of organized efforts to promote social justice and social welfare in contemporary society. The course identifies and surveys the major approaches to social change work, including direct service provision, policy advocacy, and popular organizing and mobilization. Sociology provides us the tools to better understand and compare these various models of social change. Developing a deeper understanding of these efforts and their theoretical foundations will help ensure that our attempts to ‘make a difference’ are done in informed and thoughtful ways. In this course, you will have the opportunity to volunteer and make site visits to nonprofit and governmental service providers, public policy and advocacy organizations, and social movement organizations, as well as hear from guest speakers. This course is designed for social science majors or others who are interested in working in local organizations to make a difference. Liberal Arts Core/University Requirements Designation: SS-1, DSINQ. (3)
SOC 261 Through the Sociological Lens I
Do you see what I see? In this course, students are introduced to the basics of visual sociology, using photography to document their observations of local, national, and global contexts. Students create a visual narrative documenting a selected course theme such as culture and community, local-to-global connections, or boundaries of belonging. Prerequisite: EN 102 or permission of the instructor. Liberal Arts Core/University Requirements Designation: GP, SS-1, WI. (3)
SOC 306 Poverty, Wealth, and Inequality
Are there two Americas? How do structural barriers limit a person’s life chances? Sociological research on social class and inequality challenge commonly held assumptions that people who live in poverty are doing so because they make poor decisions or are unwilling to work hard. By studying the impact of social class, inequality, and poverty on everyday life, students gain an appreciation for the insights that come from systematic sociological research on contemporary issues such as gentrification, hunger, and wealth concentration. Prerequisites: SOC 121, SOC 131, SOC 203, or SOC 204. Liberal Arts Core/University Requirements Designation: SS-2. (3)
SOC 350 Social Justice
How are views of social justice shaped by assumptions about how society works? This course examines sociological theory and its connection to social justice. We review competing visions of social justice, from the founding fathers of our discipline to those who are traditionally excluded from it, exploring how sociology can both explain social issues and contribute to social change. Prerequisites: minimum grade of C- in SOC 121, SOC 131, SOC 203, SOC 204, or SOC 251, or permission of the instructor. Liberal Arts Core/University Requirements Designation: SS-2. (3)
SOC 351 Addressing Injustice: Research Methods
This course is an introduction to the methods that social scientists use to advance social change in an unjust world. Social science methods, which include things like interviews, observation, and focus groups, can serve as tools for identifying unequal social patterns, raising awareness about unfair treatment, evaluating policies or programs, or informing strategies we use to take action. The methods we discuss in this class are those that involve working with human participants and are those most commonly used in the work of nonprofit or government research studies. Prerequisites: minimum grade of C- in SOC 121, SOC 131, SOC 203, SOC 204, or SOC 251. Liberal Arts Core/University Requirements Designation: SS-2, DSINQ. (3)
SOC 352 Addressing Injustice: Quantitative Research Methods
This course focuses on quantitative methods, procedures, and techniques that are appropriate to challenging social injustice. Emphasis will be on selecting appropriate methods for understanding how statistical results can be applied to solving global problems. Prerequisites: minimum grade of C- in SOC 121, SOC 131, SOC 203, SOC 204, or SOC 251. Liberal Arts Core/University Requirements Designation: SS-2, DSINQ. (3)
SOC 361 Through the Sociological Lens II
When is seeing believing? In this advanced course, students apply visual research methods to explore how community life is shaped by local, national, and global connections. Students create a visual narrative using their own research topic. Prerequisite: EN 102 and one of the following: SOC 121, SOC 131, SOC 203, SOC 204, or SOC 261, or permission of the instructor. Liberal Arts Core/University Requirements Designation: SS-2, GP, WI. (3)
SOC 365 Gender Inequality in Global Perspective
How do the categories of gender shape our life choices and economic opportunities? This course addresses gender in a global context to appreciate how people’s lives differ depending on gender relative to class and cultural and racial heritage. Emphasis is placed on using social science research to address gender inequality in both global and local communities. Prerequisites: EN 102 and one of the following: SOC 121, SOC 131, SOC 203, or SOC 204. Recommended: GEND 200. Liberal Arts Core/University Requirements Designation: SS-2, DSINQ, GP, WI. (3)
SOC 375 Topics in Human Rights
If human rights are universal, why don’t all countries recognize and respect them? Although a Universal Declaration of Human Rights was introduced in 1948, this was neither the beginning nor the end of the global dialogue surrounding the rights associated with being human. This course applies a sociological lens to understand the social context of these universality claims by focusing on specific human rights topics such as human slavery, migration and citizenship, or food sovereignty. Prerequisite: SOC 121, SOC 131, SOC 203, SOC 204, or permission of the instructor. Liberal Arts Core/University Requirements Designation: SS-2, GP. (3)
SOC 385 Global Inequality and Community Development
Why is inequality so severe in the world today, and what can we do about it? This course explores how global inequality is conceptualized, where it comes from, and what consequences it has for peoples and places around the world. Students are introduced to contemporary community development initiatives and the impacts of these attempts to improve the living conditions for the world’s least powerful. Prerequisite: SOC 121, SOC 131, SOC 203, SOC 204, or permission of the instructor. Liberal Arts Core/University Requirements Designation: SS-2, GP. (3)
SOC 395 Cities in the 21st Century
How do we build cities so that those living there thrive? Large global cities, like Washington, DC, serve as seats of power, capitals of enterprise, and leisure destinations for millions. The multiple functions of a city like Washington, DC, are a reflection of the interplay between planning priorities and input from community voices, which can impact the way a city is experienced by those who live, work, and play in local neighborhoods. In this course, we examine urban development strategies, urban planning practices, and grassroots mobilization efforts that aim to construct a just and inclusive city. We will examine the best practices of community building, place-making, and urban change in cities around the world. Minimum grade of D required to pass the class. Prerequisite: SOC 121, SOC 131, SOC 203, or SOC 205. Liberal Arts Core/University Requirements Designation: SS-2. (3)
SOC 400 Internship
Senior students apply their sociological skills in a supervised field experience in a community-based organization that is intended to help students make connections between the local and global, as well as gain an appreciation for how to make a difference. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor. Liberal Arts Core/University Requirements Designation: EXP. (3)
SOC 421 Project
Research of an original topic in sociology in collaboration with or under the direction of a faculty advisor. The project is intended to demonstrate ability to conduct and report independent research. Prerequisite: permission of instructor. (1-3)
SOC 433 Research
Students conduct collaborative research (scholarly work leading to new knowledge) under the direction of a faculty member. Prerequisite: permission of instructor. Liberal Arts Core/University Requirements Designation: EXP. (1-6)
SOC 495 Senior Practicum
This capstone course provides students with an opportunity to engage in conversations and apply their sociological imagination to current events. In addition, students practice academic and professional skills when working on a community-based research question or topic. The senior practicum is designed to build on prior coursework, but this is also open to sociology minors who successfully complete the prerequisites. Successful completion of all assignments is required to pass the course. Prerequisites: minimum grade of C- in SOC 251, SOC 350, and SOC 351 and permission of the instructor. Liberal Arts Core/University Requirements Designation: DSINQ, WI. (3)
SOC 497 Community Engagement Experience
This senior-level seminar is an opportunity to learn by ‘doing sociology.’ Students apply the sociological skills developed in previous courses to contemporary issues. With guidance from an academic advisor, students select the path that best meets their career goals: an internship placement, a research experience, or a teaching apprenticeship. This course is a required course for the sociology major and open to sociology minors. Prerequisites: minimum grade of C- in SOC 251, SOC 350, and SOC 351 and permission of instructor. Liberal Arts Core/University Requirements Designation: EXP, DSINQ. (3)
Transferring Students—Pathways & Info
The Sociology Department welcomes transfer students! We work with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions to make your transfer process an easy transition. MU has articulation agreements with local community colleges and transfer policies that will ensure you get all eligible credits from your prior academic work.
Transfer pathway for NOVA students
Transfer credit information for Montgomery County Community College students
How many credits can you transfer to Marymount?
Marymount accepts a maximum of 64 credit hours from freshman and sophomore level courses and an additional 20 credit hours from junior or senior level courses. Marymount generally accepts credits for courses completed with a grade of C or higher at other regionally accredited institutions of higher education. For more details on our current transfer policies, see the Marymount University Undergraduate Catalog.
I am passionate about sociology and its ability to explain how structures in the society impact both the individual and the society, how the structures in a society work together and change, and the impact of that social change. We live in a global and changing community, so I am privileged to be part of the process that prepares students for a lifetime of change by inspiring, challenging, and nurturing them to discover their purpose and develop their maximum human potential. This includes equipping them with the tools they need to be critical thinkers who can challenge not only their own knowledge and beliefs, but also those of others, and to critically address the complexities of different social issues facing their local community and the world in general.
Matt Bakker – Chair, Sociology Department
Why do I love teaching sociology? The continual engagement with young people as they embark on their journey into adulthood fills me with hope and excitement about the future. I enjoy introducing students to sociology and accompanying them as they acquire a new, more critical perspective on the social world they inhabit and remake on a daily basis. More than anything, I relish the discipline’s transformative potential, its ability to present students with alternative modes of thinking- and being-in-the-world, to encourage them to critically examine existing social conditions and imagine how things could be different. I consider myself quite lucky to return year after year to this space where the bright-eyed energy of youth combines with the transformative power of sociology.
Currently, I’m working on research projects focused on local efforts to resist federal deportation policies across the United States and on urban development projects and displacement in the DC metro region. What fascinates me about this research is that it helps us to better understand how communities respond to adversities and work to create local social structures and relations that foster justice, inclusion, and community well-being.
Teaching sociology (or any subject for that matter), begins with a genuine love for the field. But, I believe in order to be an effective teacher of sociology, one must be genuinely willing to engage in a constant struggle with the concepts, theories, and methodological approaches that make up the discipline we know today. Like society itself, sociology is always changing. This means that teaching sociology, and teaching it well, requires an instructor to be comfortable in the role of student. As a proud ‘learner’ of sociology, my most recent explorations have taken me into the area of housing inequality, and community displacement in the greater Washington, D.C. area.
Learning isn’t a spectator sport – you can’t sit on the sidelines and expect to understand the world in which we live! Rather than just reading about the work that sociologists do, I want students to get a feel for doing sociology, to discover the ways our lives are shaped by the social relationships that we often take for granted. At Marymount, our students bring a global perspective to the classroom. Together we strive for intellectual excellence by analyzing issues from diverse perspectives, considering views of people from all walks of life, and giving voice to those who are marginalized. More often than not I learn from my students, getting a new perspective by seeing the world through their eyes. Our conversations spark intellectual curiosity and challenge us to value the insights that come from our differences and thinking beyond those cultural and geographical boundaries that define our comfort zones.
I have often been asked why I left a different social science to pursue a career in Sociology and the answer is simply this; Sociology is such a powerful science because it can expose so many truths about the real workings of societies both domestically and globally. Sociology looks at the big picture of the issues that make most of us uncomfortable and pulls the veil off, revealing the facts that we all need to grow and change for the overall betterment of humankind. Sociology has allowed me to find the answers to the questions I have had regarding inequality and marginalization, gender, sexuality, identity, and social performativity. A recent graduate, I have found that I have an even greater passion for teaching and continuing my research in topics that are connected with Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. I incorporate feminist, queer, and intersectional theories within my research and practice as a new and very excited sociologist on a new journey in higher academia. I am also a Marymount Saint and a veteran of the United States Army.
I am a firm and passionate believer that the theories presented through instruction must meet the realities of the world and be able to stand the test of compelling classroom discussion. As an instructor, I strive to bring to my classroom: enthusiasm, energy, and perhaps a bit of eccentricity that result in lasting intellectual excitement. I include in my presentations extensive empirical experience, expertise, and every now and then, breaks for exercise. It is important to me that my classes are educationally enriching, enlightening, and I hope that sometimes they are even entertaining. As a professor who gives his best, I also expect the best from my students in return.
Sociology majors often take advantage of study abroad opportunities available at Marymount. We closely with Marymount’s Center for Global Education (CGE) to offer a variety of study abroad experiences, including the Global Classroom Series and the Short Term Summer Programs.
Some recent sociology study abroad courses include:
- Amsterdam: Through the Sociological Lens (Spring 2014)
- Kenya: Addressing Injustice (Summer 2014)
- Belize: Through the Sociological Lens (Summer 2015)
- France: Diversity, Community and The Church (Summer 2015)
- El Salvador: The Global Village (Spring 2016)
- Groningen: Through the Sociological Lens (Spring 2017)
Global learning on campus
The Sociology Department offers another exciting global learning experience. Students can take a globally networked class that connects faculty and students who are located in another country. In collaboration with partners at Hanze University of Applied Science, Dr. Janine DeWitt and her colleague, Loes Damhof, have pioneered this form of global learning by offering The Global Village. This course is taken simultaneously by students at both universities. The professors and students meet together for presentations and guided discussions, sharing their observations of globalization in the communities where they live, work, and play. Through these exchanges students on both sides of the Atlantic gain a deeper understanding of globalization, identify its different impacts on people within their communities, and build valuable career skills by working on intercultural teams. Plans are underway to expand our globally networked classroom offerings. Stay tuned!
Dr. DeWitt’s The Global Village course was designed as part of the Collaborative Online International Teaching project (COIL) at the Global Center of the State University of New York. In addition, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities recently mentioned this global networked classroom experience on its list of the “Ten ways that Catholic higher education lives the vision of Gaudium et Spes.”
The nearby resources of Washington, DC offer abundant and exciting career opportunities for sociology majors. Sociology majors gain practical work experience by completing one of two options during their senior year: an internship (SOC 400) or a community engagement project (SOC 497).
SOC 400 requires students complete a semester long placement for 120 hours of supervised work and the related academic requirements. SOC 497 requires students complete ten week placement for a minimum of 80 supervised hours and the related academic requirements. Working with their advisor, students select the placement that best meets their career goals.
Recent internship placements include:
Bonder & Amanda Johnson Community Development Corporation
Bailey’s Crossroads Community Shelter
Tenants and Workers United
Community Gardens, D.C. Department of Parks & Recreation
Offender Restoration of Arlington
Northern Virginia Family Services
- Earth Day Network
- Youth Service America
- Separated Children Seeking Asylum Service – Dublin, Ireland
Teaching apprenticeships: Developing information literacy lesson plans for sociology students; Support strategies for international students.
Research experience: Inclusionary local immigration policy; Nature writing with women in the Philippines.
3+3 Law Program for Sociology Undergrad Students
A partnership agreement between Marymount University and The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law (CUA Law) makes it possible for eligible students pursuing Sociology to receive direct admission to CUA Law after successful completion of three years of undergraduate study. Interested students should meet with their advisors as soon as possible to review program requirements and fit.
3 + 3 Advantage
Students who pursue a Sociology degree will be able to use their first-year law school courses at CUA Law to fulfill the required fourth-year coursework at Marymount. First-year law school credits will be accepted by Marymount to complete the student’s bachelor’s degree. 3 + 3 students can earn their bachelor’s degree and their Juris Doctor (J.D.) in only six years.
3 + 3 Eligibility
Third-year Marymount students who are pursuing a Sociology degree will be eligible for direct admission to CUA Law by having:
- Completed at least three (3) years of coursework
- Earned a minimum cumulative G.P.A. of 3.60 by the end of their junior year
- Scored above the 66th percentile on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT)
- Remained in good academic and disciplinary standing; and
- Met all of the fitness, character, and other criteria for admission required by the Office of Admission of CUA Law.
Address the major social challenges of our time:
Sociology prepares students to adapt to new situations, work with others, and become engaged community members. Our applied sociology program at Marymount focuses on addressing inequality and achieving justice in a world of diversity and difference. Unlike other sociology programs, all of our required courses contribute to this departmental focus.
The world is our classroom…
As a community of students and faculty, we share the common interest in understanding global connections and the benefits of using our knowledge about cultural diversity to address these and other issues. Your coursework will focus on the contemporary social challenges in immigration, human rights, cultural diversity, gender and racial inequalities, and community development.
How students can use their sociology degree
Sociology students develop critical reasoning, data collection and analysis skills, and foundational knowledge for working with diverse communities. These in-demand, transferable skills prepare students for a range of job settings working in government service, community development or urban planning. Students graduating with a Marymount sociology degree seek careers that will affect change on a global scale.