What's Your Major: Sociology

Sociology majors graduate from Mercer not only with a sociology degree, but also with a better understanding of the social world.

“Sociology is the study of human behavior and groups while providing for an understanding of how institutions and societies work,” said Fletcher Winston, professor of sociology.

The major provides the foundation for advanced study and careers in sociology and social work while offering students additional choices for a major or minor in criminal justice and anthropology, which are also housed within the sociology department.

“Sociology is not a large major in terms of credit hours,” Winston said, “so it allows students to pick up a second major if they want.”

Students who choose to major in sociology will find that they have numerous opportunities for future jobs and schooling.

“A sociology major helps with a variety of different graduate school plans and provides a good foundation for graduate schools,” Winston said.

Winston said that job opportunities are extremely branched out. The only job title that actually has “sociology” in the name is a sociologist.

“You can find jobs in social work, public health, government and nonprofit jobs. Sociology also gives you a good foundation for medical school, law school and graduate school,” Winston said.

“The degree gives you an understanding and the research skills that help with a variety of skills that employers look for,” Winston said.

The department is not the biggest at Mercer—Winston described it as “medium to medium small.”

“There are about 25 majors at the moment, but it is also a popular minor because the minor complements other coursework,” Winston said.

Elizabeth Houser, a junior sociology major, is one of the students who appreciates the major’s diversity and flexibility. “I did not know what sociology was coming into Mercer. It was really surprising,” Houser said.

“Initially, I was not interested in sociology,” said Houser. “I was pre-PA and I took a sociology class for my general education requirement and it really connected.”

“Sociology is intertwined with the world outside of what we know. It studies people’s actions and behaviors. I like analyzing things so that drove me into it too,” Houser said.

Houser hopes to attend graduate school for sociology in North Carolina and use her degree to become a sociology professor. “I like the research aspect of it so I want to help people develop their own research,” Houser said.

She said that sociology is a demanding major but she appreciates the professors’ dedication.

“The sociology department is good at challenging your strengths and weaknesses. There is never a day where you can just breeze through class,” Houser said. “People may assume that classes are easy but they test boundaries in terms of what you believe about the world and your academic capabilities.”

While sociology tests academic capabilities as well as societal world views, Houser does not believe that those facts intimidate students.“You have to be willing to put in the effort,” said Houser. “But I don’t think that it keeps people away from being a major.”

Sociology connects well with other majors. Houser said her advice to potential sociology students would be to take on another major.

“Sociology helps you to emphasize what you are already doing and it complements other majors well by giving you more structure when you go out into the real world,” Houser said.