B.A., Sociology

Sociology explores the nature and dynamics of human society and the interrelationship between individuals and their social groups. The goal of sociological study at Cal Poly is twofold:

  • To develop a sociological imagination that enables students to see their personal circumstances and problems in context of the broader, local, national, and global forces that shape their lives.
  • To prepare students for graduate studies and careers in such fields as criminal justice, law, social services, complex organizations, and teaching.

Sociology also offers general education courses that provide an understanding of the complexity and diversity of the world’s peoples and their problems. Some courses focus on American society, emphasizing issues of class, race, ethnicity and gender. Other courses have a global orientation dealing with both the past and present diversity of the world’s societies, economies, politics and religions.

For more information about learning objectives, degree requirements and curriculum, major courses and electives, concentrations and GE requirements, please see the Cal Poly Catalogue website.

Learning Objectives

  1. Understand and appreciate the cultural and physical attributes of major world regions, key regional issues and linkages between regions, the processes that shape cultural change and interaction, and international development issues. 
  2. Demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of human ecology with specific emphasis on the ecological, demographic, genetic, developmental, and epidemiological dimensions of modern human adaptations and their evolutionary foundations over time and space.
  3. Comprehend the historical place of humans around the globe and apply acquired skills for cultural resource management and conservation.
  4. Analyze the processes that shape the earth's physical environment (e.g. climate, landforms, water, soils, biota, and ecosystems), the distribution of natural resources, and the ways in which humans utilize natural resources and impact the environment with an emphasis on sustainability.
  5. Apply scientific research methodology and design, including the ability to collect, synthesize, and interpret qualitative and quantitative cultural and ecological data using a variety of methods including the utilization of geo-spatial technologies (GIS, remote sensing, and GPS).
  6. Critically analyze issues from multiple perspectives and communicate results effectively.
  7. Synthesize information and utilize acquired skills locally and globally to improve the state of the environment and the human condition by applying cultural, ecological, and spatial knowledge, methods, and techniques.


Internship Requirement

As a means of promoting relevant job skills, hands-on learning, and field experience, majors who select the criminal justice or social services concentrations are required to complete an approved internship. Majors who select the organizations concentration will be encouraged to complete an internship, but will not be required to do so. These internships in criminal justice or social services will be up to one year, but with a minimum of two quarters, and count for 8 to 12 units of credit (SOC 440). The department will assist students in identifying suitable internships. However, students are encouraged to explore options for themselves based upon their interests.

Please see the internships section of this website for more information about Sociology internships.


Students are required to take one of the following concentrations or the individualized course of study. 

  • Criminal Justice
    Prepares students for careers in law, law enforcement, corrections, detention, probation, parole and other criminal justice agencies.
  • Individualized Course of Study
    An opportunity to pursue a course of study which meets  a student’s individual needs and interests. It consists of 28 units at the 300–400 level that are selected by the student in consultation with an advising faculty member. The student must also provide a written justification for the courses and the way they constitute a cohesive, integrated course of study. The list of courses is a contract between the student and the Department.
  • Organizations
    Students learn to apply the general principles of human behavior to the understanding of modern organizations. It prepares them for careers in business, government or non-governmental organizations.
  • Social Services
    Provides the general principles of human social behavior and specialized professional courses to prepare for careers in the helping professions such as social work and counseling. 

Changing Major to Sociology

Click here for instructions on changing major to Sociology.

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