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Bachelor of Arts in Sociology

Sociology investigates how communities are formed and maintained and how people resist social conventions and inequalities. Drawing from Philadelphia's rich cultural landscape, Drexel's BA in Sociology trains students to study the interplay between institutions and individuals to better understand how one’s life is shaped by society.

Students also develop strong skills in critical thinking, research design, research methods, data analysis, writing and public speaking in order to address contemporary social challenges.

Sociology Concentrations

Sociological approaches can be used to study numerous aspects of social life — from consumer behavior to barriers to environmental change. Students can customize the curriculum to fit their interests or choose from one of three concentrations that build on faculty research and expertise: environmental, medical or urban sociology. Training in these areas will prepare students to tackle major contemporary challenges.

Environmental Sociology Concentration

Undergraduate students who major in sociology can elect to concentrate in environmental sociology. With a concentration in environmental sociology, students will learn about the following:

  • The social causes of environmental problems
  • The relations between environmental problems and inequalities
  • The key actors and institutions that are involved in the creation of U.S. environmental policies
  • The role social movements play in environmental justice
  • Identify policies that address environmental challenges

For a concentration in environmental sociology, students should take at least four courses from the courses listed below. These courses will be considered electives within the major. There may also be sociology special topics courses offered periodically that focus on environmental issues.

Environmental Sociology Courses

SOC 276 Global Climate Change: This course will examine the environmental issue of global warming from a number of disciplinary perspectives. The course starts with an overview of the scientific evidence for global warming. It then provides an overview of the impacts of global warming on natural systems, biodiversity and human health. It also defines the notion of “dangerous anthropogenic climate change and the possibilities for preventing this from occurring. It explores policy options regarding both the mitigation of CO2 emissions and adaptation of societal practices and infrastructure to a continually warming globe. The course then examines the political and cultural dynamics of society’s response to global warming. The course concludes with a consideration of the political actions now underway by social movements to mobilize politics.

SOC 341 Environmental Movements in America: Focuses on key collective actors and institutions that are involved in the creation of U.S. environmental policies, including historical and cultural processes of change involving social movements, environmental advocacy organizations, foundations and the media.

SOC 244 Sociology of the Environment: Examines acts of nature vs. acts of humans, food and health, environmental politics, social movements and environmental issues, environmental and development policies, and environmental and global change.

SOC 346 Environmental Justice: Focuses on the political economy of environmental injustice and the impact of social movements addressing it; impact of chemical pollutants on human health; and the scientific and legal issues surrounding the study and regulation of pollutants.

SOC 349 Sociology of Disasters: Focuses on social aspects of disasters, such as: collective behaviors (panic, crime, improvisation); warning, evacuation and perception of risk; social responses to natural and technical disasters; scientific uncertainties and technical disasters; social produced age, gender, racial/ethnic and social class vulnerabilities to disaster; terrorism-caused disasters; and disaster preparedness and prevention.

Medical Sociology Concentration

Undergraduate students who major in sociology can elect to concentrate in medical sociology. With a concentration in medical sociology, students will learn about the following from a national and global perspective:

  • The relations between inequalities, health care and social justice
  • Key trends in medicine
  • The importance of organizations to health and medical care
  • Policies and financial systems that help produce health and illness
  • Trends in health professions (e.g., new profession formation; socialization of health professionals; power dynamics between health professions)
  • Patterns, impact and interventions at the level of populations
  • Social science methods
  • New health settings, challenges, and controversies

For a concentration in medical sociology, students should take at least four courses from the courses listed below. These courses will be considered electives within the major. A good way to start learning about the field is to take SOC 235 Sociology of Health and Illness. This course is offered every quarter, every year. SOC 271 Sociology of Aging is offered every year while the other health related courses are offered every other year.

There may also be sociology special topics courses offered periodically that focus on health, illness and care.

Medical Sociology Courses

SOC 235 Sociology of Health and Illness: Examines the history, economics, and politics of our health-care system and the effects of technology on the quality of health care.

SOC 238 A Sociology of Health Professions (New Course): This course examines the rise of a variety of health professions, the power dynamics between them, and the socialization of health professionals into their professional roles. Attention will also be paid to the organizational and institutional contexts of health professions.

SOC 271 Sociology of Aging: Introduces the multidisciplinary scientific study of the causes and consequences of aging, its history, methods of research, major theoretical approaches, and empirical findings.

SOC 313 Global Health Matters: This course introduces students to a sociological perspective for understanding global health, healing, and medicine from individual experiences in local circumstances to practices that affect communities and societies throughout the world. It situates health and health care within cultural, social, historical, economic and political circumstances and addresses these topics in settings that are primarily outside the United States.

SOC 318: Social Networks and Health (New Course): As humans, we are connected to each other, and as a result, so is our health. Increasingly, Social Network Analysis, a sub-field of Sociology, has shown that the size, structure and strength of people's social connectedness have powerful influences on their life, experiences and outcomes. This course will introduce students to this sub-field, and show how social networks (types, manner, size and strength, and other dimensions of interpersonal connections) affect a wide array of health outcomes including, illness (flu, STDs, depression), access to and utilization of health information and resources, and how these networks can help explain differences in health outcomes among people with otherwise similar genetic, socioeconomic, and geographic characteristics.

SOC 370 Practicum in Applied and Community Sociology: This course is central to the newly adopted emphasis of the sociology major on participatory research. These courses are intended as the practicum and supervised project-oriented research work for community organizations and agencies.

SOC 405 Medicine, Technology and Science: This seminar focuses on how definitions and experiences of health and illness are shaped by technology use, cultural contexts, institutional practices, health care policies, and inequalities. Students will examine social trends in medical technology and science as well as how illness categories are created, negotiated, and resisted. Participants in this course will gain the ability to assess the changing role of science and technology in medicine as well as think critically about the social dimensions of the experience of health and illness.

SOC 430 Politics of Life: This course will explore the sociological implications of advancements that have been made in genetic engineering, biotechnologies and other areas of biomedical research. Starting with earlier examples of "power over life" from the 18th and 19th centuries, it will explore themes, dilemmas and complications embedded in the scientific control over life. Topics to be explored include biopower and biocapital, eugenics, race and class, stewardship and bioengineering, new reproductive technologies and reproductive choice, among much, much more. Consideration to feminist, queer and critical race theories will frame much of class discussion.

Urban Sociology Concentration

Sociology majors can also elect to concentrate in urban sociology. With a concentration in urban sociology, students will learn to sociologically analyze cities, the communities that comprise them, and the social processes that organize and transform them. With a concentration in urban sociology, students learn about:

  • Neighborhood and city changes, including gentrification, revitalization, suburbanization and urban decline
  • The importance of space and place, such as urban/rural divides and connections, and regional differences; and how policies and historical events have shaped these spaces
  • Communities and neighborhoods, their vibrancy, diversity and resilience as expressed through consumption, social spaces, art, minority cultures, everyday resistance and informality
  • The unique challenges facing modern cities, including poverty, affordable housing, homelessness, cultural tourism, globalization, global warming, policing, incarceration, and inequality within cities as expressed through race, class, gender and sexuality

For a concentration in urban sociology, students should take at least four courses from the courses listed below. These courses will be considered electives within the major. A good way to start learning about the field is to take SOC 240 Urban Sociology. This course is offered twice a year. The other urban sociology courses are offered every other year.

Urban Sociology Courses

SOC 240 Urban Sociology: Provides an overview of the contemporary process of urban change and of key problems and policy issues. Concentrates on five concerns: the evolution of urban economics; life and culture in the city today; race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class of urban populations; urban politics and social forces; and new directions in urban development.

SOC T280 Sex and the City: This course examines the relationship between urban spaces and sexuality. The course focuses on three themes: the role of sexual and gender minorities, like LGBTQ people, in the city; sexual commerce like prostitution and sex work; and the social construction of city problems as sexual and family issues. Students will learn about how urbanization fosters vibrant cultures and stark inequalities in neighborhoods, and explore the notion that our spaces shape who we are and who we love.

SOC T280 Gentrification and Neighborhood Change: This course examines the rise, fall, and change of urban neighborhoods. Students will be introduced to key debates surrounding processes such as neighborhood disinvestment/decline, urban renewal, and gentrification. Course content will focus on the consequences of neighborhood change for urban communities. Students will learn to weigh the positive and negative, and the real and perceived consequences of gentrification, as well as evaluate urban policies for managing neighborhood change.

SOC 406 Housing and Homelessness: This course examines how housing shapes individual, family, and neighborhood dynamics. Students will be introduced to housing policy in the United States, and will gain an in-depth understanding of homelessness and unstable housing. Students will learn how to think critically about the role of housing in enduring forms of race, class, and gender-based inequalities and to assess current policy for improving access to stable housing in Philadelphia.

Sociology Courses that Complement the Urban Sociology Concentration:

SOC 115 Social Problems: Provides a sociological analysis into the causes and possible cures for a variety of social problems. Focuses on topics such as unemployment, crime, poverty, corporate concentration of wealth and power, racism, immigration, health care and environmental degradation.

SOC 210 Race, Ethnicity and Social Inequality: Examines cultural diversity, racial and ethnic identity; racism, discrimination and prejudice, as well as minority-majority group relations both globally and at home. Special attention will be paid to the history and present status of various major racial and ethnic groups in the United States including African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans as well as “white” ethnicities.

SOC 220 Wealth and Power: Examines the extent of differences in wealth and political power in modern society and looks at the origins and implications of those differences.

SOC 222 Sex and Society: This course examines how sexualities are socially produced and re-produced. Topics of study include gender and sexuality; changing social meanings of variant sexual orientations and practices; the effect of birth-control technologies, sexually transmitted infections and sexual violence on sexual norms; the commodification of sex and the social control of sex.

SOC 340 Globalization: This course investigates the causal factors for the emergence of what is known as globalization, global economy, global village, etc. It covers the effects of global changes on national political systems, on ecology and on local cultures. The role of the US and reactions to the new world order will also be considered.

SOC 346 Environmental Justice: Focuses on the political economy of environmental injustice and the impact of social movements addressing it; impact of chemical pollutants on human health; and the scientific and legal issues surrounding the study and regulation of pollutants.

SOC 349 Sociology of Disasters: Focuses on social aspects of disasters, such as: collective behaviors (panic, crime, improvisation); warning, evacuation and perception of risk; social responses to natural and technical disasters; scientific uncertainties and technical disasters; social produced age, gender, racial/ethnic and social class vulnerabilities to disaster; terrorism-caused disasters; and disaster preparedness and prevention.

Courses Outside of Sociology that Complement the Urban Sociology Concentration:

CJS 220 Crime and the City: This course reviews the nature of crime and disorder in cities from the urban industrial revolution through the so-called "Crime Drop" of the early 2000s.

ENSS 326 Cities and Sustainability: This course will provide an overview of the issue of sustainability planning and policy for cities. Topics include how we define sustainability for cities, and how we measure its progress and impacts.

Capstone in Sociology Seminar

An important feature of the curriculum, the capstone seminar in sociology brings together advanced sociology students to synthesize and apply key sociological ideas and methods. In this culminating experience, students use sociological concepts to think through important social trends and practices. The capstone seminar builds community among students and provides students with a comprehensive understanding of sociological approaches.

Learn more about the degree in the Course Catalog

Drexel Co-op for Sociology Majors

Sociology majors at Drexel embark on up to three, six-month periods of employment — exploring their career options, strengthening their résumés and building a professional network in the process. Students have the opportunity to earn a salary while gaining practical skills, making them competitive applicants when entering the job market. Recent sociology majors have completed co-op positions such as:

  • Marketing Co-op, Duane Morris LLP
  • Consumer Protection Co-op, Office of the Attorney General
  • Clinical Research Assistant, Temple University
  • Government Relations Co-op, University City Science Center
  • Community Engagement Co-op, Cradles to Crayons

Learn more about Drexel Co-op

Sociology Careers

In a fast-changing, increasingly global world, sociology prepares students to succeed with problem-solving skills and social knowledge. Sociology majors gain critical skills in research, data analysis, cultural competency and communication that are valued by many employers. Graduates go on to careers in fields such as law, health care, government agencies, research, human resources, communications and many more.