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Human interaction and social phenomena

If you're the type of person who likes to observe the crowd, you're already a student of sociology.

Our degree in sociology builds upon that foundation, teaching you to study, understand and answer questions like:

  • How does education affect a person's achievements?
  • What is the relationship between religion and other aspects of social life?
  • Why do people contribute to and get behind political campaigns?
  • How do social constructs determine a person's understanding of their value?

Through the holistic study of behavioral social interactions, our sociology program teaches you to examine economic and political forces, family and community relations, cultural values, race, gender, and the nature of social organization.

At Mount Mercy I fell in love with sociology—the department, the staff, and the classes. They’ve given me a lot of opportunities that I never thought would be offered.

Drake University Law School


Apply sociological analysis in real world situations.

The sociology curriculum addresses the educational objectives of students who wish to:

  1. Develop skills in critical thinking and analysis
  2. Learn the ways in which sociological thinking can contribute to one’s active and constructive participation in society
  3. Master scientific principles and methods to analyze and evaluate data in order to understand the social world
  4. Apply sociological theories and methods to social public policy, community development, and social justice initiatives

What courses will I take?

Sociology Major 

SO 122Introduction to Sociology3
SO 251Sociological Theories3
SO 315Methods of Social Research3
SO 430Internship in Sociology3
SO 441Senior Seminar3
Sociology Electives 118
Total Hours33

Any course with the SO prefix. See full list on the courses tab. Can include GS 138 The Final Journey: Death & DyingHS 210 Introduction to Public HealthHS 215 Introduction to Epidemiology

Academic Requirements

Students must maintain a grade of C or above (C- does not count) in each required course for the major and minor.

Note: Students planning to pursue teacher education should follow the program guidelines within the Education section of this Catalog and contact an advisor in the education division for assistance. Students cannot double major in Sociology and Sociology - Education. 

Sociology Minor

SO 122Introduction to Sociology3
or SO 155 Social Problems
Sociology Electives 115
Total Hours18

Any course with the SO prefix. See full list on the courses tab. Can include GS 138 The Final Journey: Death & DyingHS 210 Introduction to Public HealthHS 215 Introduction to Epidemiology

Academic Requirements

Students must maintain a grade of C or above (C- does not count) in each required course for the major and minor.

The following is the typical sequence of courses required for the major*:

SO 1223Elective3SO Course (choose from elective options)3
Portal3 Math Competency3
Writing Competency4 Literature Domain3
Holistic Health Domain3 Elective3
 13 3 15
GS 138 (or SO Course (choose from elective options))3Elective3SO 2513
SO Course (choose from elective options)3 SO Course (choose from elective options)3
Historical Roots Domain3 Natural World Domain4
Fine Arts Domain3 Elective3
Elective3 Elective3
 15 3 16
SO 3153Elective3SO Course (choose from elective options)3
SO 155 (or another course from the Self and Society Domain)3 SO Course (choose from elective options)3
Philosophy Domain3 Religious Studies Domain3
Elective3 Elective3
Elective3 Elective1
 15 3 13
SO 4303Elective3SO 4413
Elective3 Elective3
Elective3 Elective3
Elective3 Elective3
 12 3 12
Total Hours: 123

Note: Elective courses could be used for a second major, a minor, a course of interest, internship or study abroad experience.

Note: See the Curriculum section for more information on Portal, Competency, Domain, and Capstone courses.


The course offerings, requirements, and policies of Mount Mercy University are under continual examination and revision. This Catalog presents the offerings, requirements, and policies in effect at the time of publication and in no way guarantees that the offerings, requirements, and policies will not change.

This plan of study represents a typical sequence of courses required for this major. It may not be applicable to every student. Students should contact a department faculty member to be sure of appropriate course sequence.


SO 122 Introduction to Sociology: 3 semester hours

This course introduces students to sociology, the core issues of the discipline, and the way sociologists analyze social behavior. In addition to mastering basic concepts and principles, students will learn a great deal about American society and how to analyze ordinary experience from a sociological perspective. (Offered fall and spring semesters).

SO 155 Social Problems: 3 semester hours

This thematic course introduces the student to a sociological understanding of various social issues such as inequalities of class, gender and race; problems of work and unemployment, economic restructuring and downsizing; environmental problems; homelessness and poverty; and inadequacy of the health care system to name a few. Students will have the opportunity to critically evaluate the root causes of social problems both at the national and global levels, analyze and interpret data, and work within groups to develop skills for problem solving and social policy planning.

SO 176 Deviant Behaviors: 3 semester hours

This course examines various theories and explanations of deviant behavior, ranging from individual to societal-level instances of non-conformity, such as: crime, mental illness, and the way we label individuals - and behaviors - as such. In addition, the course provides a sociological understanding of crime: what we consider criminal, our responses to it, and its impacts on society. Prerequisite: SO 122 or SO 155.

SO 183 Introduction to Cultural Anthropology: 3 semester hours

This course focuses on the study of human behavior within various social contexts, as well as the development of a wide array of cultural traits and belief systems in human communities. By studying distinctive forms of social relations and universal and particular aspects of human culture, students are exposed to the fallacies of cultural and racial superiority of western societies over the rest of the world, particularly primitive cultures.

SO 200 Introduction to Gender Studies: 3 semester hours

This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of Gender Studies. It is designed to help students develop a critical framework for thinking about questions relating to gender and the ways that gender is constructed and institutionalized. The course will provide social, cultural, historical, and political perspectives on gender and its construction. We will explore the intersections among gender, race, class, sexuality, nation, and ability in multiple settings and contexts. Taking an interdisciplinary approach to a variety of questions, we will consider the distinctions between sex and gender, feminist theories, the making of masculinity, sexuality and the body, the gendered economy, intersectionality, health and science, and the challenges of feminist activism across nations.

SO 202 Marriage & the Family: Intimate Relationships: 3 semester hours

This course examines intimate partner relationships and families as expressed throughout time and place in contemporary American society. It provides an analysis of intimate partnerships and families over the life course as social institutions with changing functions and structures. Attention will be given to intimate partnerships and the dynamics of interpersonal relationships across diverse groups and social settings. Students will gain insight into the influences of religion, politics, culture, education, and economics on individual and family-level well-being.

SO 225 Aging in America: 3 semester hours

This course constitutes an overview of gerontology, including the major theories used to explain the physiological, psychological, and sociological aspects of aging. As the one inequality all people face, the study of aging and ageism - known as social gerontology - examines the transformations in the life course of older adults and the impacts on those they encounter. Drawing from an historical perspective, the course explores current issues and trends related to finances and retirement, health, living environments, social justice, and politics. Prerequisite: SO 122.

SO 235 Social Inequalities: 3 semester hours

This course provides an analysis of various forms of social stratification and inequality through an interdisciplinary approach, grounded in sociological theory. Examination of dimensions of inequality include: race, class, gender, status and political parties, and the way in which economic and political systems shape access to wealth and resources in the United States and abroad. Prerequisite: SO 122 or SO 155.

SO 240 Medical Sociology: 3 semester hours

This course is a study of the medical profession as a societal institution in regard to the effects of the norms and beliefs of society. Areas analyzed include the social factors involved in the physical and mental health areas, the norms and roles of health care professionals in the treatment process, environmental and occupational health, non-physician providers, and cross-cultural reforms in response to the health care crisis. Prerequisite: SO 122 (Offered alternate years).

SO 251 Sociological Theories: 3 semester hours

This course attends to the basic theoretical issues in sociological theory, including an analysis of the key theorists Marx, Weber and Durkheim. This course also provides an overview of modern social theories such as conflict, structural functionalism, symbolic interactionism, and postmodernism. Prerequisite: SO 122.

SO 300 Introduction to Feminist Theories: 3 semester hours

This course will introduce students to both recent feminist theories and methodologies as well as past theoretical works. The historical origins, philosophical assumptions, and political implications will also be examined. Topics covered will include, the construction of sex and gender, the private and the public, transnational feminism, intersectionality, power, oppression, the body, identity, and queer theory. Prerequisite: SO 200.

SO 310 Sociology of Sexuality: 3 semester hours

This course examines cutting edge scholarship on the sociology of sex, gender, and sexuality. Because these are major organizing principles of contemporary social life, we will examine gender and sexuality from multiple levels of analysis including the meaning and experience of the body, self, and identity, social groups and networks, as well as social organization with in our major social institutions. We also discuss how gender intersects with other social statuses, such as race, ethnicity, social class, sexuality, and nationality to reproduce inequalities and power relations. Prerequisites: SO 122, SO 155, SO 183, or SO 200.

SO 315 Methods of Social Research: 3 semester hours

Provides an understanding of a scientific approach to knowledge building with an emphasis on teaching students to be critical consumers of research. Examines quantitative and qualitative methods and applications used in social sciences research including data analysis, program evaluation, and ethics and diversity in social worlds. Prerequisite: junior status; recommended SO 122.

SO 330 Global Race Relations: 3 semester hours

This course includes an in-depth examination of major conceptual views and theoretical perspectives on race and ethnicity. Within a critical historical and comparative framework, the course will trace the roots of modern race relations in the United States as well as in other countries, including Canada, Brazil, Northern Ireland, Palestine, and Israel, and South Africa. Recent theories of race relations that link colonialism and capitalist development to racism, prejudice and discrimination also will be discussed. Prerequisite: SO 122.

SO 342 Sociology of Mental Health & Illness: 3 semester hours

Sociology of Mental Health & Illness examines sociological theories and research pertaining to the definition, experience, and treatment of mental disorders. Sociological research on mental health and illness has a wide scope; therefore, this course will focus on three primary areas within sociological research: the definition and measurement of mental illness, social origins of mental health and illness, and personal, community, and societal-level responses to mental illness. Prerequisite: SO 240.

SO 343 Global Health: 3 semester hours

This course will explore the unequal distribution of health and illness around the world. It will focus on four major areas: global health issues; sociological perspectives on global health disparities; comparative healthcare systems; and professional approaches to national and cross-national health problems. Prerequisite: SO 240.

SO 344 Gender & Health: 3 semester hours

Gender & Health introduces students to various ways in which the social construction of health and illness - particularly surrounding gender and gendered assumptions about bodies - impacts an individual's health. Topics discussed include: the gendering of health issues, gendered hierarchies in healthcare, and issues of inequality and empowerment in health and medicine. This course is taught from a critical feminist perspective. Prerequisite: SO 240.

SO 400 Special Topics in Sociology: 3 semester hours

This course will expose students to a variety of topics of sociological significance which are not usually discussed in regular departmental course offerings. Topics may very and include: sociology of war, peace, and justice; movies and society; popular culture; the political economy of modern architecture and planning; and sociology of development and underdevelopment. Students may complete more than one topics course in consultation with an academic advisor. Prerequisite: SO 122.

SO 420 Social Movements: 3 semester hours

The purpose of this course is to offer an introduction to social movement studies. We review the main approaches developed in this field, including collective behavior theory, resource mobilization theory, political process theory, new social movement theory, collective action framing and culture, and contentious politics. We will discuss the ways in which emotions, organizations, resources, politics, discourses, and symbols facilitate and/or hinder protests and social movements; as well as, apply these ideas to a number of domestic and global social movements and revolutions. Prerequisite: SO 122 or SO 155, offered alternate years.

SO 430 Internship in Sociology: 3 semester hours

Majors who are juniors or seniors are required to fulfill the requirements for an experiential learning and field experience in sociology. In consultation with their faculty advisor, students shall assess their academic and vocational qualifications, develop a resume, and conduct a search for an internship position. Information on available internship sites will be available both at offices of career development and the sociology department chair. During the field experience, students will have a structured plan of reading, writing journals and reports, and a term paper. The objective of the term paper is to relate relevant sociological principles to the field experiences. Internships should be arranged in advance with a departmental faculty sponsor. Prerequisite: SO 122 or SO 155.

SO 441 Senior Seminar: 3 semester hours

A capstone course which allows students to do independent research and explore a topic of their choice, and also involves students in the examination of and discussion of cutting-edge issues in sociology. Open to non-majors with instructor consultation. Prerequisite: SO 122 or SO 155 and senior status.

SO 445 Independent Study in Sociology: 3 semester hours

With approval of their advisor and the department coordinator, juniors or seniors my schedule an independent study course in a sociological topic of their interest. No more than two independent study courses may be scheduled during the last two years of study. Credit is variable (1-3 semester hours), depending on the scope of the topic. Prerequisite: SO 251 and SO 315.

Careers in sociology

Turn your curiosity and passion into a career.

Mount Mercy graduates with a Bachelor of Arts in sociology find work in a variety of professions like medicine, politics, research, teaching, law and more.

Beyond workforce preparation, our sociology program provides the foundation for graduate study and professional programs. A sociology degree gives you the advantage of being able to incorporate a broader perspective, approach new ideas, initiate innovative directions, and use your skills to teach and help others.

Our graduates have found careers as:

  • Domestic violence and crisis case managers and counselors
  • Correctional officers and victim-witness coordinators
  • Job development specialists
  • College admissions and student leadership representatives
  • Attorneys of law

What are the next steps?

Mount Mercy offers competitive tuition and generous scholarships.

We also encourage all students to apply for federal, state, and other kinds of financial assistance.

Learn more about:

We make it easy by accepting applications year-round! No deadline, no fee, no pressure.

  1. Create your application
  2. Apply under standard admissions criteria or go "test optional"
  3. Request official transcripts from all institutions previously attended. Mail to:

  Mount Mercy University Admissions
  1330 Elmhurst Drive NE
  Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52402

For more detailed instructions on how to apply, see our Admissions page.