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Sociology, B.A.

Sociology as a discipline analyzes the connections—by using what C. Wright Mills called the “sociological imagination” between individual experiences (“personal/private troubles”) and “public issues.”

By doing so, we learn that “personal problems” are actually consequences of social structures, including, but not limited to, ethnoracial, gender, and socioeconomic hierarchies in society. The goal of sociology is for students to examine the inter-relationship between individuals and the social structures and groups to which they belong.

Subsequently, students come to see that individual behavior, their own and that of others, is not so individual after all, but that how we each think, act and feel has a lot to do with the group norms and social structures within which we live. But sociologists do not stop at merely observing and acquiring knowledge and data about different social problems, rather they critically engage with the complexities of society, which is one of the first steps toward social change.

Well-educated sociology BA graduates acquire a sense of history and knowledge of various racial, ethnic, gender, socioeconomic groups, the interconnectedness of social life, and different frameworks of thought. They are proficient at gathering information and putting it into perspective. Sociological training helps students bring breadth and depth of understanding to the workplace.

A sociology graduate learns to think abstractly, formulate problems, ask appropriate questions, search for answers, analyze situations and data, organize material, write well, and make oral presentations that help others develop insight and make decisions. An undergraduate sociology major provides valuable insights into social factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, ability, age, education, social class, nationality etc. that affect work and how organizations operate.

Sociology BA graduates have an advantage in understanding human behavior on three levels:

  • how individuals behave in organizations, families, and communities
  • the ways in which these social units function as groups
  • the wider social, political, economic, gendered, ethnoracial, etc. contexts in which decisions are made and in which groups function.

Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice is the scientific study of the social phenomenon of crime. Through their studies, students become familiar with law enforcement theory and practice, correctional theory and practice, and criminal law. It prepares students for careers in law enforcement, corrections, and court services as well as graduate work (e.g. law school). Degree Requirements

Family Studies/Social Work

This concentration is ideal for students seeking to pursue careers and graduate work in sociology or social work, social service agencies, public policy, community development, advocacy, education, local/state/federal government agencies, health services, (family) law, among other sectors. Students exploring “the family” as an emotional, economic, historical, and sociocultural institution. Families hold great paradoxes. On one hand, they are a deeply mundane and ordinary part of the human experience; and on the other hand, families can contain incredible drama and pain, along with profound love. They both shape our individual lives and social world, and are fundamentally shaped by our society, history, laws, and existing inequalities. In various classes, students look at cultural notions of what families “should be” and social realities of what families actually have been/are in terms of marriage, relationships, race, gender, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, nationality, popular culture, law and social policy. Degree Requirements

Social Inequality and Social Justice

This concentration investigates how social structural factors, such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, social class and their intersections relate to power, social status, wealth, income, and criminal justice. Through their classes students gain knowledge about these issues but also skills that will guide students as they create a more just and fair world for all. This concentration is relevant for students interested in careers related to human or social services, nonprofit and community organizations, social advocacy, activism and social policy settings, and research and government agencies as well as graduate work. Degree Requirements

Academic Sociology

In this concentration students explore and analyze the functions and institutions of societies, which include but are not limited to social stratification, race and ethnicity, gender, the family, and laws. Degree Requirements

© Ferguson and Carbonaro (2016)[1] and the American Sociological Association (2017)

Essential Concepts

The Sociological Perspective consists of concepts that reflect larger organizing themes that lay the foundation of critical undergraduate knowledge in sociology. These essential concepts illustrate how sociologists view the social world and how sociology contributes to our understanding of the human experience:

  1. The Sociological Eye: The first essential concept in the sociological perspective is the sociological eye, a term adopted from Randall Collins (1998). Sociology students should be able to delineate the major theoretical frameworks and distinctive concepts and assumptions upon which our discipline is grounded and that differentiate it from other social sciences. Topics related to this concept include: the founding theoretical traditions; a critique of rational choice theory as the primary explanation of human behavior; and an introduction to the sociological imagination and to the social construction of everyday life, two constructs that facilitate understanding of how social forces affect individuals and how actions of individuals both constitute and are shaped by daily
  2. Social Structure: Students of sociology also should be able to describe social structure and how structural forces affect human action and social life at the micro, meso, and macro levels of More specifically, sociology students should be able to distinguish important social institutions in society that make up the social structure, and how they affect individuals and each other. In addition, students should be able to differentiate the processes through which social roles and statuses, relationships, social groups, formal organizations, and social networks influence human thought and action. Students should recognize how hierarchy, power, and authority operate across these structural contexts. Finally, students should be able to provide examples of these concepts related to social structure in multiple historical and cultural settings.
  3. Socialization: Students of sociology should be able to explicate the relationship between the self and society, particularly how the self is socially constructed and maintained at multiple levels of Relevant topics include processes and agents of socialization; the role of culture in shaping human thought and action; the operation of social norms, including the study of social control, anomie, and deviance; the power of the self-fulfilling prophecy; and the role of human agency in altering behavior. Finally, students should be able to explain concepts and theories that illustrate how the self and social interaction influence society and social structure.
  4. Stratification: The essential concept of stratification comprises the different forms of social inequality in human societies and the processes through which they are established and operate. Related critical topics include the theories of social stratification; the structures of inequalities of power, status, income, and wealth; the distinction between social and economic mobility and how ascriptive and meritocratic traits are related to each; and the impact of changes in the opportunity structure on inequality and social Additionally, students should be able to identify structural patterns of social inequality and their effects on groups and individuals, and explain the intersections of race, social class, gender, and other social factors at the micro, meso, and macro-levels of society.
  5. Social Change and Social Reproduction: Sociology students also should be able to identify the social processes underpinning social change and to describe how demographic and other types of social change affect individuals and social More specifically, students should be able to explain how social structures change as a result of social forces including: the actions of social groups through social movements and collective action; the impact of macro-level economic and social changes such as industrialization, secularization, and globalization; and struggles over social institutions that are linked to social and economic development and mobility. A critical component of social change is social reproduction, which focuses on the basic processes of how social structures reproduce themselves from generation to generation in cultural, social, political, and economic terms

Essential Competencies

These are skills that sociology students should be able to demonstrate at different points in the sociology curriculum. For example, in introductory courses these skills are introduced, in intermediate courses these skills are developed and applied, and in advanced courses they are particularly emphasized. By the time sociology majors graduate, they should have developed mastery of these skills.

  1. Apply Sociological Theories to Understand Social Phenomena: Sociology students should be able to move beyond folk explanations of social phenomena and instead invoke evidence-based theories of sociological phenomena. Sociology students should be able to demonstrate how to apply sociological theories and concepts to the social world around them by doing the following: using the sociological imagination to analyze social problems in context and to generate and evaluate solutions; and by applying other sociological theories and concepts to social phenomena, both locally and
  2. Critically Evaluate Explanations of Human Behavior and Social Phenomena: Sociology students should be able to describe the role of theory in building sociological knowledge and evaluate the limitations of different theoretical frameworks. This essential competency provides students with the tools to critically evaluate claims about the social world by identifying and appraising assumptions underlying theory construction and social policy, deductively deriving theories from assumptions, inductively reasoning from evidence to theoretical conclusions, and effectively using sociological theories and evidence to suggest solutions to social
  3. Apply Scientific Principles to Understand the Social World: Sociology students should not only be able to describe the role of social research methods in building sociological knowledge, but be able to identify major methodological approaches and the design of doing research including sampling, measurement, and data Students should learn to conduct and critique empirical research through the articulation of the effective use of evidence, the generation of research questions or hypotheses from sociological theories and concepts, and the recognition of the limits of the scientific method in understanding social behavior
  4. Evaluate the Quality of Social Scientific Methods and Data: Students should be able to critically assess the empirical sociological research of others and be able to identify the assumptions and limitations underlying particular research methodologies in sociology. The particular characteristics that sociologists use to evaluate the quality of research methods and data sources include: operationalizing concepts into measurable variables; learning the importance of precision, reliability, and validity of data sources; and understanding the distinctions between probability and nonprobability
  5. Rigorously Analyze Social Scientific Data: Students should be able to articulate and apply disciplinary standards for data analysis and also delineate the differing goals, strengths, and limitations of different modes of analysis. These methodological skills should include an ability to differentiate basic descriptive and inferential statistics and the importance of statistical and experimental controls for making causal claims when analyzing data. Students also should be able to evaluate multiple representations of data in public The ability to evaluate statistical information and analyses is central to the quantitative literacy of sociology students.
  6. Use Sociological Knowledge to Inform Policy Debates and Promote Public Understanding: Sociology students who are able to use all of these essential concepts and competencies are better prepared to engage with and have an impact upon the world in which they live and This last competency is not solely the ideal of using sociological education to develop better citizens, but in addition, it covers a broad range of abilities and potential applications for sociology students, including being able to express sociological ideas in a clear and coherent manner, in both written and oral communication, to the general public. Sociology students also should be able to demonstrate informational, technological, and quantitative literacy. This essential competency suggests that sociology students should understand the kinds of work sociologists do, including an awareness of how sociology is used in clinical and applied settings, and the value of sociological knowledge and skills in the workplace. Additionally, students should be aware of public sociology and be able to use and understand the value of sociological theories and knowledge when participating in public discourse and civic life. This essential competency effectively parallels one of the goals of Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP), which argues that learning outcomes are essential for success in life, civil society, and work in the 21st century.

[1] Ferguson, Susan J., and William Carbonaro. 2016. “Measuring College Learning in Sociology.” pp.135-87 In Improving Quality in American Higher Education: Learning Outcomes and Assessments for the 21st Century. Edited by Richard Arum, Josipa Roksa, and Amanda Cook. San Francisco: Jossey- Bass Publishers.

Sociology has a strong focus on finding solutions complex questions through research (data collection and analysis) and high-level critical thinking. Specifically, students who graduate with a BA in Sociology acquire an array of practical skills that are valuable for many jobs and careers. Some of these skills include:

  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Communication skills
  • Leadership
  • Data collection and analysis – research skills
  • Interpersonal and cross-cultural skills

Career and job opportunities

  • Communications, Journalism, and Publishing
  • Consulting
  • Education (see also dual degree Social Studies/Early Childhood Education)
  • School Administration (K-12, college)
  • Entertainment and Events Management
  • Customer Service
  • Government and Public Policy
  • Health Care Administration
  • Human Resources and Staffing
  • International Aid and Development
  • Law and Criminal Justice
  • Market Research
  • Non-Profits (Advocacy and Administration)
  • Police
  • Public Relations
  • Religious Leader
  • Social Services and Counseling
  • Social Work
  • Sociology Professor
  • Urban and Regional Planer

and this is what recent Wagner College Sociology majors are doing

  • Emily Balch, social worker and social reformer, recipient of the 1946 Nobel Peace Prize winner (a)
  • Richard Barajas, former Chief Justice, Texas Supreme Court
  • Shirley Chisholm, former Congresswoman from NY, first woman to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Steph Curry, NBA player
  • Amanda Gorman, First National Youth Poet Laureate
  • Bong Joon-ho, movie director (e.g. Parasite)
  • Martin Luther King Jr., PhD, civil rights leader
  • Daniel Patrick Moynihan, PhD, former U.S. Senator of New York and former Assistant Secretary of Labor
  • Alondra Nelson, PhD, Deputy Director for Science and Society in the Office of Science and Technology Policy
  • Michelle Obama, lawyer, former First Lady
  • Ronald Reagan, former US president
  • Maxine Waters, Congresswoman from Los Angeles

Wagner College staff and administrators who majored in Sociology

  • Jazzmine Clark-Clover, Vice President of Workplace Culture and Inclusion, Human Resources; Chief Diversity Officer
  • Linda Cosentino, Deputy Director of Human Resources
  • Desiree Braithwaite, Assistant Director of Central Services
  • James Gibson, Director of Admissions
  • Letty Romero, Office Manager Campus Life

see what recent Wagner College Sociology majors are doing

C. Wright Mills Sociology Award is presented to a Sociology junior who has demonstrated outstanding academic potential and embodies the spirit of the sociological imagination.

Academic Excellence Award in Sociology is given to the Sociology senior with the highest GPA.

Hertha Troll Meyer Memorial Award is endowed by the family and friends of Hertha Meyer and is presented annually to the graduating Sociology senior who best exemplifies the ideals of scholarship and service.

Here are examples where Wagner College Sociology students interned in their senior year:

  • Catholic Charities’ Refugee Program
  • The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
  • African Services Committee
  • Make The Road New York
  • Napela
  • La Colmena
  • Concord High School
  • Jewish Community Center of Staten Island
  • Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Union County
  • Center for Family Services
  • Police Athletic League
  • American Red Cross Disaster Cycle Services
  • Egger Nursing Home
  • Person Centered Care Services
  • Legal Aid Society
  • Physicians for Reproductive Health
  • Peer Health Exchange
  • Lesbian Herstory Archives
  • Manhattan College
  • US Census
  • Richmond County Supreme Court
  • Richmond County District Attorney Office
  • Superior Court of New Jersey
  • private law firms in Staten Island, Manhattan and New Jersey


Examples of Wagner College Sociology students senior theses:

  • “Going Pro in Something Other Than Sports”: The Effect of a Division I Student-athlete’s Prospect of Having a Professional Career in Their Sport on Academic Performance by Kira Mordvinov (’23)
  • Alone on Christmas? No Can Do. The Troublesome Portrayals of (Single) women in Christmas Romantic Comedy Films by Genevieve Mishon (’21)
  • How Does an Individual’s Political Affiliation Affect Their Opinion About the FIRST STEP Act by Grace Twaddell (’20)
  • Place of Birth and Likelihood of Poverty after Immigration to the United States by Kaila Smith (’20)
  • Does Regular Participation in Leisure Activities affect Senior’s Mental Health? by Mikaela Pritchett (’19)
  • What Affects Children’s Behavior at After-School Programs in Urban Settings? by Kishon Banks (’18)
  • Breaking Down Barriers of Language and Literacy. Refugee Integration in the U.S. by Gianna Chianchiano (’18)
  • The Difference is in the Tales: The Relationship Between Insurance Regulations and Accessible Abortion Care by Emma MacDonald (’17)
  • The Untold Story of Domestic Violence: Male Victims of Female Perpetrated Domestic Violence in Heterosexual Relationships by Bobby Paul (’17)
  • Why Adults Are Allowed to Say ‘Children Are Best Kept Out of Sight and Out of Mind’. A Study on Adult Focused Therapy for Survivors of Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking by Kelly Glenn (’17)
  • Racial Discrimination in Mortgage Lending and the Risk of Foreclosure: Exploring the NY-NJ-CT-PA Combined Statistics Area by Jenny Loh (’16)