A Major for the 21st Century

zulauf hall

Sociology is a fascinating and diverse field of study, examining the dynamics of social life, social change, and the underlying factors that drive and shape human behavior. Sociology explores the causes and consequences of timely topics such as poverty and wealth, prejudice and discrimination, deviant behavior, religious beliefs and social movements. In studying such things as population growth and migration, crime and punishment, and economic development, sociologists seek a deeper understanding of the social institutions that shape our lives. At a time when technology is spurring social development and interaction at breakneck speeds, Sociology is truly a major for the 21st Century.

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Our students are prepared to be leaders in today’s complex and changing world. They develop the knowledge and analytical skills they will need for successful careers and informed citizenship. 


What Does Our Program Offer?

A Challenging Curriculum with:

  • Helpful advising
  • Accessible and supportive faculty
  • A hands-on research orientation
  • A true “make a difference” major

Enroll in the sociology program at NIU, and you’ll learn to master critical thinking, oral and written communication, as well as sociological data collection and analysis.  Let us help you develop your sociological imagination!

Interesting and Relevant Courses

We offer engaging classes exploring such issues as Social Problems, Criminology, Gender, Race and Ethnicity, Family, Health and Wellness, Migration, Urban Life, Mental Illness, and the Environment and Society. 

Your Choice of Focus

Special topics courses covering cutting edge social issues like Global Terrorism, Sexualities, Popular Culture, Race in America, Gangs and many others. 

A Chance to Stand Out

Our classes are purposely small; most have no more than 40 students.  You’ll learn from some of the top professors in the field — professsors who will know you by name.  Student organizations will give you a chance to get to know your peers and be actively involved in co-curricular activities. 

Outstanding Faculty 

Our faculty hold degrees from some of the top Sociology departments in the world. They serve as journal editors and reviewers and hold memberships in the American Sociological Association, American Society of Criminology, Center on Adherence and Self-Determination, Midwestern Sociological Association, Society for the Study of Social Problems, and Sociologists for Women in Society. At NIU, they serve on curricular committees, lead study abroad programs, and have received awards for Excellence in Teaching and service to the university. 

Real Life, Résumé Building Experiences

Students have internship opportunities in private industry or with social services agencies, nonprofit organizations and the criminal justice system. There are also ample undergraduate research opportunities, with students working together with faculty on original research projects. 

What can I do with this degree?

Our graduates have entered the following fields:

Private industry
Market research, private security firms, business management and others

Public service
Community college instructors, counseling and other social service organizations

Housing, public health, aging, family services, job training agencies, research and analysis

Governmental agencies
Law enforcement, probation, parole agencies, FBI, and county drug court offices and others

Many of our students go on to graduate programs or law school.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for sociologists will grow by 18% through 2020. Candidates with an advanced degree, strong statistical and research skills, and a background in applied sociology will have the best job prospects.

Sociology students at Habitat for Humanity
"Sociology helped me
to become an open-minded
and critical thinker,
useful in everyday life and
any occupation." 

"What I liked best about
being a Sociology student
was that it helped me
to view things from different
perspectives and to
appreciate and understand

-Bonnie Jensen
B.S. Sociology, 2005
M.A. Sociology, 2008 

Degree Information

The Department of Sociology offers the B.A. and B.S. degree with a major in sociology. The department also offers a minor in sociology, which should be of interest to students majoring in another social science, such as psychology or anthropology, in a program in family, consumer, and nutrition studies, or in history or philosophy.

Beginning in Fall 2013, the Department of Sociology will be offering a new certificate in Criminology. The certificate is designed to provide insight into the academic study of crime and the criminal justice system in contemporary society.  Students must maintain good academic standing in the university, maintain a 2.00 grade point average in certificate courses and complete all certificate work within six (6) calendar years. All courses for the certificate must be completed at NIU. Certificate courses in Sociology may be counted toward undergraduate degree requirements in the department.

Who Studied Sociology

Students raising a wall on a new house

Student Interviewing

Contact Information 

Department of Sociology
815 Zulauf Hall
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115

ph  (815) 753-0365
fax (815) 753-0251
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