Sociology applies the methods of science to explain social behavior. The interactions of individuals in families, groups, or organizations, and the institutions, social class, or shared beliefs of a common culture are all subjects for sociological research. There are many career opportunities open to people who complete a major in sociology, including business, counseling and social service, public policy, law, and criminal justice.

Students interested in sociology should meet with the undergraduate advisor before they register for the second semester of the sophomore year. The undergraduate office's resource center holds detailed information about the major, the department, research interests of sociology faculty, career opportunities, and student work. Declaration of the major during the sophomore year will give students access to required sociology courses for fall of the junior year.

Criminal Justice Certificate

Sociology majors wishing to earn a certificate in criminal justice may do so with a minimum of additional course requirements and permission of the Criminal Justice advisor. See Criminal Justice section in this Guide.


Required courses for the sociology major and for the CAR option may have temporary course controls that send non-declared students "Course Requisites Not Met" enrollment error messages. Certain 100-numbered courses each semester are restricted to freshmen and sophomores until freshmen have enrolled. Check the Course Guide for notes each semester.

Transfer students whose equivalent courses have been posted to their records as “electives,” numbered XXX, may use those courses as prerequisites if the department approves their equivalencies to similar UW–Madison courses. What is needed is a conversation with the undergraduate advisor either in the office or at SOAR.

Honors Program

A variety of courses in sociology offer honors credit, and may be used toward Honors in the Liberal Arts in the College of Letters & Science. These include the special honors introductory seminar, Sociology 181, Sociology 380 Contemporary Population Problems, other special honors sections of 100- and 200-level courses, and courses that provide honors by arrangement with the instructor. Sociology also has courses that award automatic honors, including SOC/​C&E SOC  361 Statistics for Sociologists II, SOC 362 Statistics for Sociologists III and SOC/​C&E SOC  693 Practicum in Analysis and Research, and certain other upper-division courses designated by semester in the Course Guide. Sociology also makes special offerings of upper-level courses available to sophomores in the honors program for one semester at a time.

Prerequisites, L&S BREADTH, and Course Levels

Sociology course numbers over 300 indicate subject matter rather than level of difficulty. Unless indicated otherwise, prerequisites at the upper level are junior standing and an introductory course in sociology or consent of instructor.

Most courses in sociology count toward the social studies breadth requirement. Courses SOC/​GEN&WS  200 Introduction to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer+ Studies, SOC/​ASIAN/​GEOG/​HISTORY/​POLI SCI  244 Introduction to Southeast Asia: Vietnam to the Philippines, and SOC/​AFRICAN/​AFROAMER/​ANTHRO/​GEOG/​HISTORY/​POLI SCI  277 Africa: An Introductory Survey count toward breadth requirements in either humanities or social studies. The following do not count toward any breadth requirement:

SOC/​C&E SOC  357 Methods of Sociological Inquiry3-4
SOC/​C&E SOC  360 Statistics for Sociologists I4
SOC/​C&E SOC  361 Statistics for Sociologists II3
SOC 362 Statistics for Sociologists III3
SOC 496 Topics in Sociology1-3
SOC/​C&E SOC  693 Practicum in Analysis and Research3
SOC/​LEGAL ST  694 Criminal Justice Field Observation2-3

Professors Carlson, Elwert, Emirbayer, Ermakoff, Ferree, Fletcher, Ford, Freeland, Fujimura, Gerber, Goldberg, Grodsky, Lim, Logan, Massoglia, Maynard, Montgomery, Nobles, Oliver, Raymo, Rogers, Schaeffer, Schwartz, Seidman, Wright

Associate Professors Conti, Engelman, Grant, Light

Assistant Professors Goffman, Jensen