First-Year Focus

Welcome to Sociology!

On the many and varied pages that make up our undergraduate web site, we hope you will find a treasure trove of useful information about what sociology is, what you can do with it, what our currents students are doing in their sociological studies now, and what our past students are doing in the real world. Many of our majors and minors combine Sociology with a major or minor in another department or program, and we would encourage you to think about doing the same. Sociology is a wonderful complement to a wide range of academic and professional pursuits. Below you will find links to information about each of these topics, and without further introduction, I invite you to browse our pages. Please get in touch with me if you have any questions whatsoever.

Leslie McCall, Director of Undergraduate Studies (

What is Sociology and Why Study It?

How do inequalities within society affect the health of individuals? How can social groups use law and the legal system to promote change? What is the role of race in the debate over abortion in the United States? How does recent economic growth in China affect the chances for development in other parts of the world? What role do personal connections and social networks play in producing financial crises? How does social provision affect women’s income, relationships, and identities?

These are examples of the kinds of questions that are addressed in courses in the Department of Sociology at Northwestern University. Unlike economics, which is often centered on the rational individual, Sociology takes as its starting point the social relations that structure individual behavior. Students who major in Sociology at Northwestern focus centrally on social collectivities such as legal and medical organizations, economic classes, families, social movements, and groups defined by racial, ethnic, and gender identities. Sociology majors develop expertise in the ways in which social relations create and maintain inequalities, whether at the level of individuals, groups, or whole societies.

As the broadest of all of the social sciences, the discipline of Sociology provides an exceptionally wide range of practical and marketable skills. Sociology majors receive training in critical analysis, statistical methods, theory, and field research. Majoring in sociology is an excellent pathway to a career in law, medicine and public health, consulting, finance, non-profit and public administration, social network research, culture, and the arts.

The Department of Sociology at Northwestern is a top-ranked program with world-class faculty. The undergraduate program features a generous faculty-student ratio and many opportunities for students to get to know their professors beyond the classroom. Sociology is an ideal major for pursuing a senior thesis or other capstone project. The Department is committed to teaching all students to engage more effectively with the world around them.

What Can You Do With a Sociology Degree?

Visit our careers page to see what our alumni are doing with their degree in sociology, and our students page to see what current undergraduate students are doing. 

Good Classes for First-Year Students

Intro to Sociology (SOCIOL 110-0) and all 200-level courses.  Occasionally, first year students also take 300-level courses.  Click here to see what undergraduate courses are offered this quarter.

For Fall 2015 seats have been reserved for first-year students in the following classes:

SOCIOL 101-6-20 First-Year Seminar: Scandals and Reputations with Prof. Fine
SOCIOL 101-6-21 First-Year Seminar: American Families after the Sexual Revolution with Prof. Percheski
SOCIOL 110-0-20 Introduction to Sociology with Prof. Rawlings
SOCIOL 206-0-20 Law & Society with Prof. Nielsen
SOCIOL 207-0-20 Cities in Society with Prof. Pattillo
SOCIOL 208-0-20 Race & Society with Prof. Stewart
SOCIOL 212-0-20 Environment & Society with Prof. Thistle
SOCIOL 220-0-20 Health, Biomedicine, Culture & Society with Prof. Wood

For a complete list of courses offered visit the undergraduate courses page.


Questions about majoring or minoring in sociology can be sent to  You can also consult with our undergraduate advisers, whose office hours are listed here.




Our faculty advisers can help you select Sociology courses, even if Sociology isn't your major or minor.

Searle Center for Advancing Learning & Teaching provides a variety of programs and workshops for graduate students and faculty interested in developing their teaching practices. In addition, the Searle Center offers a variety of programs for graduate students seeking to develop their skills as Teaching Assistant (TA) and instructor , such as, a yearly conference for new TA's, a teaching certificate program and fellowship opportunities.


Upcoming Events

There are no upcoming events at this time.

May 21, 2015