Sociology Program

Purpose Statement

The sociology program commits itself to developing majors with pre-professional training and non-majors with basic knowledge of and skills in sociology. The program achieves its purpose when its students:

  • have acquired knowledge and skills requisite for entry into selected professions, especially pre-professional careers in the behavioral sciences
  • have acquired knowledge and skills requisite for entry into graduate programs in sociology and related fields
  • can critically analyze their society through exposure to sociological theories and research methods
  • have bridged the gap between theory and practice through internships
  • have enhanced their sensitivity to others by studying customs, beliefs, and practices that are different from their own

In addition to preparing its majors, sociology contributes to the general education program and serves other majors. Students who wish to double major in sociology and psychology need have only one emphasis.

Sociology Major

Core Requirements (39 hours)

G-SO 101  Introduction to Sociology (3 hours)
SO 206  Social Problems (3 hours)
G-SO 202  Minorities in the U.S. (3 hours)
SO/PY 303  Social Psychology (3 hours)
SO 320  Urban Sociology (3 hours)
SO/PY 335  Research Methods I (4 hours)
SO/PY 336  Research Methods II (4 hours)
SO/PY 375  Junior Seminar (1 hour)
SO 401  Sociological Theory (4 hours)
SO 450  Sociology Proseminar (3 hours)
SO/PY 474  Scientific Writing for the Behavioral Sciences (2 hours)
*SO/PY 475  Senior Seminar/Thesis (2 hours)
G-MA 221  Elementary Applied Statistics (4 hours)

Criminal Justice Emphasis (12 hours)

SO 275  Criminal Justice (3 hours)
SO 355  Juvenile Delinquency (3 hours)
SO 455  Police and Law Enforcement (3 hours)
SO 460  Correctional Institutions (3 hours)

Health and Human Services Emphasis (12 hours)

SO 260  Introduction to Human Services (3 hours)
SO 365  Social Work in American Society (3 hours)
PY 430  Health Psychology (3 hours)
SO 470  Social Gerontology (3 hours)

Total: 51 hours

Recommended supporting courses

PY/SO 308  Counseling (3 hours)
G-BI 101  Principles of Biology (4 hours)
EC 201  Elementary Economics: Macro (3 hours)
G-PS 101  Historical Introduction to Politics (3 hours)
G-PS 102  U.S. Government (3 hours)
G-PY 101  Introduction to Psychology (3 hours)
*G-TE 333  Technology and Society (3 hours)
Foreign Language

Recommended courses for Students interested in Human Services careers

PY/SO 210  Human Sexuality (3 hours)
PY/SO 308  Counseling (3 hours)
G-SO 246  Marriage and Family (3-4 hours)
As much practical experience in human service placements as possible

Sociology Minor


G-SO 101  Introduction to Sociology (3 hours)
SO 206  Social Problems (3-4 hours)
SO 401  Sociological Theory (4 hours) or SO 450  Sociology Proseminar (3 hours)
SO/PY 303  Social Psychology (3 hours)
SO/PY 335  Research Methods I (4 hours)

Total: 18 hours 

Social Work

McPherson College has well prepared its students majoring in the Behavioral Sciences for entrance into the Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) degree programs. The pre-professional program at McPherson College commits itself to fostering student learning in career-oriented liberal arts so that students are prepared for community service and/or graduate study in social work. Students who have acquired knowledge and skills requisite for entry into the field of social services and graduate social work education demonstrate proficient knowledge, understanding, and application of psychological and sociological theories and concepts.

All accredited graduate programs in social work require a four-year bachelor’s degree for admission. The pre-social work student should plan the liberal arts program to include courses in arts and humanities, social and behavioral sciences, and biological sciences. Although the pre-social work student may choose a major in any field, a strong knowledge of human services, personality theory, counseling, and social problems is strongly recommended. The B.S. in psychology or sociology, with the health and human services emphasis, is recommended.

M.S.W. programs require evidence of relevant paid/volunteer work experience related to human services organizations. The pre-social work student should therefore be prepared to complete at least one internship or field experience related to community/social services. (The College’s Career Connections program is highly recommended.)

The M.S.W. Degree prepares graduates for advanced social work practices in one of three areas—clinical social practice with individuals, families, and groups; social work administration/community practice aimed at social service administration and social policy development; and school social work. With such diverse professional practice concentrations, it is difficult to outline a generic program to prepare all pre-social work students for admission to these practice areas. Students should counsel with the pre-social work advisor to help them identify the type of professional program they are considering, and to assist them in developing a plan for completing the graduate admission requirements of that program or field.

Although M.S.W. programs differ in admissions requirements, the following courses, in addition to the major, are recommended for students interested in entering the social work profession at the graduate level:

PY 405  Personality Theories (3 hours)
PY/SO 308  Counseling (3 hours)
SO 206  Social Problems (3-4 hours)

Courses in the Health & Human Services Emphasis:

SO 260  Introduction to Human Services (3 hours)
SO 365  Social Work in American Society (3 hours)
PY 430  Health Psychology (3 hours)
SO 470  Social Gerontology (3 hours)
PY/SO 388  Career Connections (1-12 hours)
PY/SO 295/495  Field Experience (1-4 hours)

2024|Catalog 24-25, Sociology|

Sociology Course Descriptions

G-SO 101 Introduction to Sociology

3 hours
An introduction to the general field of sociology and its principle subdivisions; the nature of culture; the socialization of the individual; the character and behavior of social groups; social organization and institutions; social interaction, deviant behavior and social change. (Fall, Spring)

G-SO 202 Minorities in the U.S.

3-4 hours
An exploration of the problems faced by physical, cultural, economic, and behavioral minority groups in American society; the causes and consequences of prejudice, stereotypes, and discrimination; the nature of minority-majority group interaction; current crises and possible solutions; and some comparison with similar situations in other countries. (Fall, Spring)

SO 206 Social Problems

3-4 hours
A study of contemporary American and world social problems, including prostitution, drug addiction, poverty, sexism, racism, and war. (Spring)

G-SO 246 Marriage and Family

3-4 hours
This course explores the institution of marriage and family in American society from a sociological perspective. Topics covered include socialization, dating, courtship, marriage, parenting, dysfunctions, divorce and remarriage. Family dynamics and major social changes affecting the family are discussed. The course allows the individual to explore her/his own marriage and family attitudes and experiences. (Fall)

SO 260 Introduction to Human Services

3 hours
An introduction to the history, theory, practice, and trends in human services. The goals, functions, and organization of human services are examined in the context of contemporary social problems; a historical survey of human services is presented as a background against which current efforts can be viewed; major theories, techniques, and methods that govern helping efforts are covered; a description of consumers of human services, and the strategies both consumers and service providers initiate to overcome barriers to effective service delivery, are discussed. Career opportunities in the human services field are also explored. (Spring)

SO 275 Criminal Justice

3 hours
An introduction to the field of criminology and the American criminal justice system. Emphasis is placed upon the nature of crime, and trends and theories of crime along with components and functions of the criminal justice system including police, courts, and corrections. (Spring)

SO/PY 303 Social Psychology

3 hours
A study of the individual as he/she is affected by other persons. Topics covered include: interpersonal relations, social learning, conformity and individuality, attitudes, groups and organizations, and others. Discussion and involvement methods are emphasized. Prerequisite: G-PY 101 and PY 204 or G-SO 101 and G-SO 202. (Spring)

SO/PY 308 Counseling

3 hours
A study of the theory and practice of counseling including a survey of the various systems of psychotherapy (person-centered therapy, psychoanalysis, behavioral therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, etc.) and learning, through role-play, of skills needed to be a helper. Prerequisite: PY 405 or instructor consent. (Spring)

SO 320 Urban Sociology

3 hours
A study of the development of modern cities, theories of urban growth, and urban problems and policies. Topics include urbanization, urban renewal, economic restructuring and globalization, international migration, culture and politics of urban places, gentrification, crime and poverty, and ecological patterns of land use. Prerequisite: G-SO 101 or instructor consent. (Fall)

SO/PY 335 Research Methods I

4 hours
The basic research methods course for behavioral science majors. Correlational, survey, and case study techniques, basic experimental design, research ethics, and general professional conduct of empirical investigation are studied. Lecture, laboratory, and practical field exercises are used as learning methods. Prerequisite: G-MA 221. Concurrent enrollment is acceptable. (Fall)

SO/PY 336 Research Methods II

4 hours
The second of the two basic research methods courses for behavioral science majors. Relatively advanced scientific research designs and statistical analyses are studied. SPSS, a statistical package, is used for most of the work in the course. Prerequisites: G-MA 221 and SO/PY 335. (Spring)

SO 355 Juvenile Delinquency

3 hours
A comprehensive examination of juvenile delinquency and the juvenile justice system. An emphasis on the causes of juvenile delinquency; its relation to family, school, peers, and society; treatment of juvenile delinquents; and criminal proceedings and the family court. (Fall)

SO 365 Social Work in American Society

3 hours
An introduction to the social work movement, profession, and practice in the United States. The course examines the social welfare policies and client populations that engage social workers, and explores the social work practice settings that range from child maltreatment and health care to work with older adults and corrections. Social issues are raised and case examples are presented to give insight into the clients and issues for which social workers initiate advocacy and social change through leadership positions in American society. Career opportunities in the social work profession are also explored. (Fall)

SO/PY 375 Junior Seminar

1 hour
Several topics and issues are examined in a seminar format. These include ethical practices and concerns as they relate to research and clinical work, the development and execution of basic and applied research, and career development and related matters. Students work toward developing appropriate research topics for their senior theses and may explore internship opportunities. (Spring)

SO 401 Sociological Theory

4 hours
A review and analysis of sociological theory including the classical theorists: (Durkheim, Weber, Marx) and topics in contemporary theory. Prerequisite: Junior or Senior standing or instructor consent. (Spring, even years)

SO 415 Gender and Society

3 hours
This course will explore the relationship between gender and society, including gender roles, identities, sexualities, and social patterns of gender difference. We will explore the idea of “social construction” by looking at how ideas of gender and sexuality have varied across history and societies. Topics will include socialization, gender in the family and workplace, popular culture, media, and sports, women’s and LGBTQ+ social movements, and intersections of gender with race, class, and other dimensions of difference. Prerequisite: G-SO 101 Intro to Sociology or instructor consent. (Spring, even years)

SO 425 Deviant Behavior

3 hours
This course exposes the student to the perspectives, principles, issues and research findings of the deviant behavior field. Topics covered include: poverty, substance abuse, prostitution, violent behavior, family violence, mental disorders, crime and social control. Prerequisite: SO 206, SO/PY 335 or instructor consent. (Fall)

SO 435 Special Topics in Behavioral Sciences

3 hours
This course explores topics not normally found in regular offerings allowing students the opportunity to explore and grow their sociological imagination as well as their knowledge of theory and research methods.

SO 450 Proseminar in Sociology

3 hours
An advanced-level seminar to integrate the information learned in earlier sociology courses. The goal is to bring full circle the sociological knowledge of students who are about to graduate. The course will explore a number of enduring sociological issues, including the meaning of sociology, the purpose of sociology and the effect sociology has on the world. Prerequisite: Upper division majors/minors only or instructor consent. (Spring, odd years)

SO 455 Police and Law Enforcement

3 hours
An analysis of the evolution of police, the police system, and the police role. Organization and jurisdiction of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies along with philosophical and ethical issues surrounding their role are discussed. (Fall, even years)

SO 460 Correctional Institutions

3 hours
An exploration of the historical and philosophical development of correctional systems with an emphasis on categories of inmates, treatment policies and their effectiveness, staff organization and training and their relation to the criminal justice system, and problems associated with correctional practices and procedures. (Fall, odd years)

SO 470 Social Gerontology

3 hours
A comprehensive introduction to an emerging field dealing with the social aspects of human aging. The course covers major areas of theory, research, social policy, and practice that impact older adults, and discusses the strengths and contributions that elders bring to their peers, families, and communities. The historical overview of aging in the United States, as well as the human and social meanings behind longevity population shift, is also explored. Also examined are social issues and psychological perspectives and strategies, as well as political and economic situations that produce undesirable outcomes as well as promote well-being in later life. Career options in the field of social gerontology are also explored. (Fall, even years)

SO/PY 474 Scientific Writing for the Behavioral Sciences

2 hours
This course is intended to help students develop the skills needed for writing research reports in the social sciences. It is a research-based course in which students learn to synthesize what they have read and present it as a scientific review of the literature; these are the primary goals. Thus, it focuses on how to apply social science theories and research methods to the writing of the senior research proposal. This course also provides students with the opportunity to prepare papers for regional conferences in sociology and psychology. Research manual required. Prerequisite: Junior or senior standing in the Behavioral Sciences. (Fall)

SO/PY 475 Senior Seminar/Thesis

2 hours (Language Intensive)
This is the culminating or capstone course for behavioral science majors. Coordinated guidance is given on the preparation of the Senior Thesis. Discussion of current topics in sociology and psychology is combined with guidance on practical matters such as application to graduate study, developing a career, and so on. Prerequisite: Junior or senior standing in the Behavioral Sciences. (Spring)

SO 495 Field Placement

1-4 hours
Practical experience working in an established social agency, mental health clinic, or correctional institution. Supervision and direction given on the job by the agency personnel. College personnel visit and give consultation.


Special Course Options
295/495 Field Experience (1-4 hours)
297  Study Abroad (12-16 hours)
299/499 Independent Study (1-4 hours)
388 Career Connections (3-10 hours)
445 Readings and Research (1-4 hours)

2024|Catalog 24-25, Sociology|