Sociology and Political Science


The sociology major at Tennessee Tech University provides majors with a strong foundation in theory and research methodology and offers a variety of courses that allow students the freedom and flexibility to explore their unique interests.

The sociology curriculum has three main purposes:

  • to aid students in understanding the roles of social forces and ideas in shaping modern society,
  • to provide a well-rounded education that prepares students for a wide range of occupations, particularly those that work directly with people or with categories or groups of people, and
  • to provide a sound academic background for future graduate works in sociology in order to become a professor, researcher, or applied sociologist.

Along with sociological theory, research methodology, and data analysis courses, the department offers courses in social psychology, marriage and family relations, death and dying, social movements, environmental sociology, rural sociology, sociology of Appalachia, medical sociology, technology and society, criminology, victimology, cybercrime, sex crimes, deviance, juvenile delinquency, organized crime, law and culture, inequality, sex and gender, race, ethnicity and multiculturalism, and cross cultural communications and cultural diversity, as well as a variety of special topic courses such as sociology of homelessness, immigration, grant writing, and sociology through service learning.

According to the American Sociological Association,

Sociology is the study of social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behavior. Sociologists investigate the structure of groups, organizations, and societies, and how people interact within these contexts. Since all human behavior is social, the subject matter of sociology ranges from the intimate family to the hostile mob; from organized crime to religious cults; from the divisions of race, gender and social class to the shared beliefs of a common culture; and from the sociology of work to the sociology of sports. In fact, few fields have such broad scope and relevance for research, theory, and application of knowledge.

While humanities and the arts also frequently examine and reflect on the social world, sociology is distinct because it is a social science. It uses theoretical frameworks and scientific methods of research to investigate the social world and test hypotheses with empirical data. Sociological methods include systematic observation, in-depth interviews and ethnography, conversational analysis of both written and visual documents, survey research, and statistical analysis. The results of sociological investigations help the development of new theories and inform social policy, programs, and laws.

The Sociology of Socialization 
Social Psychology 
The Sociology of Social Structure 
The Sociology of Group Dynamics 
The Sociology of Complex Organizations and Bureaucracy 
Industrial Sociology 
The Sociology of Voluntary Associations 
The Sociology of Social Networks 
Work and Occupation 
Social Stratification  
Racial and Ethnic Relations 
The Sociology of Gender 
The Sociology of Sexualities 
The Sociology of Dating, Courtship, & Love 
The Sociology of Marriage & Divorce 
The Sociology of the Family 
The Sociology of Religion 
Political Sociology 
Educational Sociology 
Economic Sociology (Economy, Work, and Society) 
Medical Sociology 
The Sociology of Law (Law and Society) 
Military Sociology 
Social Problems 
Sociology of Deviance 
Sexual Deviance 
Juvenile Delinquency 
The Sociology of Corrections 
The Sociology of Gambling 
The Sociology of Alcohol Abuse 
The Sociology of Drug Addiction 
Human Ecology 
The Sociology of Community 
Rural Sociology 
Urban Sociology 
The Sociology of Migration 
The Sociology of Social Indicators 
Collective Behavior 
Social Movements 
Mass Communications 
Social Change 
Sociology of Development 
Global Dynamics (World Systems Theory) 
The Sociology of Animals and Society 
Critical Perspective/Radical/Marxist Theory 
Humanist Sociology 
Ethnomethodology and Conversational Analysis 
Feminist Theory 
Feminist Methodologies and Epistemology 
Quality of Life Research 
Visual Sociology 
Mathematical Sociology 
The Sociology of the Body 
The Sociology of Disability 
The Sociology of Emotions 
The Sociology of Femininity 
The Sociology of Friendship 
The Sociology of Masculinity 
The Sociology of Children and Youth 
The Sociology of Aging 
The Sociology of Death and Dying 
The Sociology of Consumer Behavior 
The Sociology of Entertainment 
The Sociology of Food and Eating 
The Sociology of Leisure and Recreation 
The Sociology of Sport 
The Sociology of Risk 
Popular Culture (the Consumption of Culture) 
The Sociology of the Production of Culture 
The Sociology of Art 
The Sociology of Knowledge 
The Sociology of Music  
The Sociology of Performing Arts 
The Sociology of Disasters 
The Sociology of Mental Health 
The Sociology of Science and Technology 
Technology and Environment 
Environmental Sociology 
The Sociology of Terrorism 
The Sociology of Violence 
Applied Sociology 
Clinical Sociology 
Evaluation Research 
Sociological Practice 
Teaching (and Learning) Sociology 
Appalachian Studies 
Asian American Studies 
Black Studies 
Criminal Justice Studies 
Gay and Lesbian Studies 
Latino Studies 
Native American Studies 
Women’s Studies 

The following information came directly from the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Quick Facts: Sociologists

2012 Median Pay

$74,960 per year 
$36.04 per hour

Entry-Level Education

Master’s degree

Work Experience in a Related Occupation


On-the-job Training


Number of Jobs, 2012


Job Outlook, 2012-22

15% (Faster than average)

Employment Change, 2012-22


What Sociologists Do: 

Some sociologists conduct interviews for their research.

Sociologists study society and social behavior by examining the groups, cultures, organizations, social institutions, and processes that people develop.


Sociologists typically do the following:

  • Design research projects to test theories about social issues
  • Collect data through surveys, observations, interviews, and other sources
  • Analyze and draw conclusions from data
  • Prepare reports, articles, or presentations detailing their research findings
  • Collaborate with other sociologists or social scientists
  • Consult with and advise clients, policymakers, or other groups on research findings and sociological issues

Sociologists study human behavior, interaction, and organization within the context of larger social, political, and economic forces. They observe the activity of social, religious, political, and economic groups, organizations, and institutions. They examine the effect of social influences, including organizations and institutions, on different individuals and groups. They also trace the origin and growth of these groups and interactions.

Administrators, educators, lawmakers, and social workers use sociological research to solve social problems and formulate public policy. Sociologists specialize in a wide range of social topics, including the following:

  • Health
  • Crime
  • Education
  • Racial and ethnic relations
  • Families
  • Population
  • Gender
  • Poverty
  • Aging

Sociologists who specialize in crime may be called criminologists or penologists. These workers apply their sociological knowledge to conduct research and analyze penal systems and populations and to study the causes and effects of crime.

Many people with a sociology background become postsecondary teachers and high school teachers. Most others, particularly those with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, often find work in related jobs outside the sociologist profession as policy analysts, demographers, survey researchers, and statisticians.

Work Environment 

Sociologists often collaborate with colleagues on research projects.

Sociologists held about 2,600 jobs in 2012.

The industries that employed the most sociologists in 2012 were as follows:

Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private


Research and development in the social sciences and humanities


Local government, excluding education and hospitals


Management, scientific, and technical consulting services


Sociologists typically work in an office. They occasionally may work outside the office to conduct research through interviews or observations or present research results.

Most sociologists work full time during regular business hours.