University of Portland Bulletin 2021-2022


Alice Gates, Ph.D., chair

Faculty: Alfrey, Gates,Guest, McRee, Monto, Rookey

The sociology program serves the academic mission of the University of Portland by offering a strong undergraduate major program in sociology, a specialized track of that major in criminology, and an essential university core offering: SOC 101, Introduction to Sociology. Consistent with the principles of a Catholic and Holy Cross education, the faculty is committed to the development of students as socially responsible, informed citizens with an awareness of social problems, and an appreciation for individuals of diverse backgrounds, the ability to look critically and analytically at social life, and a commitment to contribute to positive change in the world.

Sociology contributes to a multidisciplinary department that includes the discipline of social work. Faculty of the entire department are committed to offering rigorous core and major courses, regularly assessing the quality of our programs, and working to support the education of students across disciplines.

Majors in sociology complete coursework and receive personalized advising that prepares them for graduate studies, leadership, and service in areas such as criminal justice, law, education, business and industry, data analysis, human services, government, journalism, and non-profit organizations. The curriculum imparts to students an understanding of society and culture as it is organized in various social institutions and provides training in the methods and theories of social research. Topics of study include sociology of the family, criminology, urban society, gerontology, race and racism, social psychology, gender, social inequality, and the study of culture.

Learning Outcomes for Sociology Majors

Graduates from the University of Portland with a sociology major should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the major theories and concepts in sociology.
    1. Describe and apply central theoretical concepts and ideas through analysis papers.
    2. Identify fundamental insights of the field of sociology.
  2. Understand, interpret, and design social research.
    1. Distinguish the strengths and weaknesses of types of research.
    2. Identify relevant ethical and cultural issues related to sociological research.
    3. Successfully conduct sociological research projects.
  3. Express themselves through the written and spoken word.
    1. Justify conclusions, hypotheses, research questions, and need for further study.
    2. Write with clarity, economy, and precision.
    3. Clearly covey ideas and information in public settings.
  4. Think critically about social life, question assumptions, and consider alternatives.
    1. Describe social factors shaping human behavior and social change.
    2. Identify relevant questions and make predictions about sociological phenomena.
    3. Critically analyze and evaluate contemporary social institutions, organizations, and policies, recognizing their strengths and weaknesses.
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of the ways that social class, race, ethnicity, and gender affect individuals and shape their perceptions of the world.
    1. Identify the fundamental insights of sociology into issues of race, ethnicity, and gender.
    2. Articulate the fundamental concepts of sociology regarding minority-majority interaction and the basic characteristics of the genders, and racial and ethnic groups in the United States.

    Graduates of the criminology track of the sociology major should also be able to:

  6. Demonstrate an understanding of the operation of the criminal justice system and the social and psychological causes of criminal activity.
    1. Articulate social and individual causes of crime, recognizing the importance of social environment and socialization.
    2. Critically analyze and evaluate the criminal justice system and other social control mechanisms in society.


The department provides opportunities for students to secure internships with local, regional, national, and international agencies and community partners. These opportunities (typically pursued during a student's junior or senior year) are individually arranged and may occur in a variety of settings. Students interested in the criminology track of the major can receive in-service experience in some aspect of the criminal justice system, or with a community agency that works to improve oversight and performance of criminal justice activity.

Capstone Experience

The capstone experience for the sociology program is provided by the course SOC 498, Senior Project Seminar. This course is taken in fall of the senior year and provides a structured opportunity to demonstrate and learn more about the complexity of sociological knowledge. While upper division courses in sociology normally focus on a particular issue, problem, institution, etc, the content of the senior seminar examines the discipline of sociology as a whole, what it offers graduates, what it offers society, and what debates and conflicts it contains. The course also serves as a professionalization seminar, with the goal of assisting students to prepare for successful entry into the work environment, community service, or graduate-level training. Over the course of the semester, each student is expected to complete a significant research project utilizing the knowledge and skills gained in their earlier coursework.