Trees frame the entrance to the Madsen Center

Madsen Social Science Center 

How does the global economy influence work in the United States? What makes for a stable family? Why do some illnesses receive more resources and attention than others? Can you really be an “individual?” Why are U.S. prisons overcrowded? How do people experience aging in America? Why do women continue to earn less income than men for the same kinds of work?

What is Sociology?

Many of the questions that tantalize us are questions about people in groups. Sociology is the study of social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behavior. Sociologist C. Wright Mills spoke of sociology as “the vivid awareness of the relationship between our private experience and the wider society.” This “awareness,” which is the result of sociological thinking and research, provides a unique perspective on the world — a perspective that emphasizes the connections between personal experience and the broader social system. [Citation from Mills, C. W. (1959). The Sociological Imagination.  London: Oxford University Press]

Studying Sociology As Preparation for Excelling In Today's World

A sociology major prepares you to understand — as well as engage in — the rapidly changing and increasingly diverse social world in which we live. In doing so, it provides an important foundation to any career that involves working with people or in social settings. In today's complex world it is vital for students to identify, understand, and critically explore the influence of the social system on individual behavior. Sociology at Augustana teaches this kind of "systems thinking" through a broad range of courses that explore the connections between family, government, religion, medicine, law, mass media, business organizations, gender, race, age and economic structures and our individual lives.  A sociology major or minor from Augustana will equip you for graduate education or a diverse range of career fields that include community development, human services, business, law, government, judicial and law enforcement services, medicine, health care administration, education, or the ministry. Any career that involves working with people will benefit from taking courses in sociology.

Hear firsthand about sociological preparation and current career success from our recent graduates!

Course Work

Your course of study in the sociology major will be divided between required courses and electives. Our required courses are designed to cover the foundational material in sociology: an understanding of contemporary society, social theory, stratification of peoples and groups, and the techniques of social science research. Elective courses allow you to focus on key areas of specialization within the discipline and thus tailor your program of study to individual interests and/or career goals.

Optional Emphasis Areas For A Sociology Major or Minor

Criminology and Deviance

Medicine and Health

Family and Community Service

Learn more about our emphasis areas here. All sociology courses are designed to foster critical thinking, problem-solving, research, writing, communication, and interpersonal skills. Often our elective courses enroll 15 students (or fewer), allowing for high levels of faculty-student contact and collaboration. Finally, students are encouraged to participate in a sociology internship, study abroad, or independent or faculty-led research during their course of study as an important step in career preparation.

News and Recent Events


Dr. Bill Swart (Sociology) and Professor Jason Harris (Business Adminstration) are leading Augustana undergraduates in the United Kingdom on a study abroad course - "Brexit - The Great Divorce and Life After the European Union" for three weeks.

NATIONALLY COMpetitvegrant awarded to sociology and art faculty for interdisciplinary project aimed at public outreach

A project by Dr. Ly Donovan along with Professor Anna Reich (Art/Photography), representing Augustana University, was selected for the 2019-2020 Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) Humanities for the Public Good Grant.

New Faculty Member joined THE DEpartment THIS ACADEMIC YEAR - Fall 2019

We are excited to annouce that Dr. Kelcie Vercel has joined the department as Assistant Professor of Sociology (Ph.D., University of Notre Dame)

Kelcie Vercel Augustana Fall 2019  Dr. Vercel is a sociologist specializing in family, culture, and consumption. She is particularly interested in the ways meanings of family, work, and the home impact intimate relationships, economic decisions,and communities. Her dissertation investigates how home stages, homebuilders, and realtors translate their ideas about the home into housing interactions and into the material qualities of houses. Her research reveals how their decisions shape the landscape of housing in the U.S. and conrtibute to symbolic exclusion. Her other research has investigated definitions of fatherhood among low-income fathers, and meanings of work and leisure among lifestyle bloggers.