Sociology professors Steve McKay and Miriam Greenberg, along with undergraduate and graduate students, conducted a Santa Cruz County wide survey of 1,700 renters as part of the "No Place Like Home" project. (Photo by Carolyn Lagattuta.)


Sociology is the study of social interaction, social groups, institutions, and social structures. Sociologists examine the contexts of human action, including systems of beliefs and values, patterns of social relations, and the processes whereby social institutions are created, maintained, and transformed.

The sociology major at UC Santa Cruz is a rigorous program of study that retains enough flexibility to accommodate students with diverse career goals and plans. It ensures that all students are trained in the main theoretical and methodological traditions of sociology, yet permits considerable variation in students' own areas of specialization. The combined sociology and Latin American and Latino studies major is an interdisciplinary course of study addressing the changing political, social, economic, and cultural realities transforming both Latin America and Latina/o communities. Sociology also sponsors a major concentration and minor in Global Information and Social Enterprise Studies (GISES) in partnership with the Everett Program. The Everett Program is a service learning program that aspires to create a new generation of well-trained advocates for social justice and sustainable development who use tools of infotech and social enterprise to solve global problems.

Degrees Offered

  • B.A.
  • Minor
  • Ph.D.

Study and Research Opportunities

  • B.A., Ph.D.
  • Sociology B.A. with intensive concentration in GISES, undergraduate minor in GISES
  • Combined B.A. major in sociology and Latin American and Latino studies

Information for First-Year Students (Freshmen)

High school students planning to major in sociology should obtain a solid background in English, social sciences, and writing skills while completing the courses required for UC admission. Students considering a combined major in sociology and Latin American and Latino studies (LALS) should also acquire as much proficiency in Spanish or Portuguese as possible before attending UC Santa Cruz.

Information for Transfers

Transfer students expressing an interest in sociology should obtain a solid background in English, social sciences, and writing skills while attending their community college. Students must complete courses equivalent to Sociology 1, Introduction to Sociology, and Sociology 10, Issues and Problems in American Society, at their previous school. It is also advised that students complete a statistical methods and research methods course prior to transfer in preparation for the major.

While it is not a condition of admission, students from California community colleges may complete the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC) in preparation for transfer to UC Santa Cruz.


  • Business administration
  • Criminal justice
  • Crisis center counseling
  • Education
  • Family/marital counseling
  • Gerontology
  • Intergroup relations
  • Journalism
  • Justice system
  • Juvenile delinquency counseling
  • Law
  • Legal aid
  • Mental health
  • Public administration
  • Public health
  • Public relations
  • Rehabilitation counseling
  • Social work
  • Sociological research

These are only samples of the field’s many possibilities.


The UC Education Abroad Program (EAP) offers undergraduate students the opportunity to study at more than 100 host universities and colleges worldwide as part of their regular UC academic program. Interested students should meet with an EAP adviser, as well as their College Academic Preceptor, early in their academic career. It is important for sociology students to plan ahead so as to fulfill the necessary major requirements before going abroad.

Awards, Honors, and Recognitions

Associate Professor Deborah Gould -  2017 Division of Social Sciences Golden Apple Award in recognition of outstanding teaching in the division.

Professor Jenny Reardon - 2017 Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award in recognition of scholars who have earned lifetime achievements in research.

Professor Emeritus Craig Reinarman -  2013 Hammer of Justice Award, by the Santa Cruz chapter of the ACLU.

Many of our faculty have received outstanding teaching awards over the years.

Alumni Focus

Annette Lareau (B.A., sociology, ’74) Professor of sociology at University of Maryland. Expert in the study of childrearing in families of differing ethnicities and social classes.

Robin Toma (B.A., sociology and economics, ’82) Executive director of the LA County Human Relations Commission. Instrumental role in a lawsuit and campaign for redress for more than 2,200 former Japanese Latin American internees.

Kris Perry (B.A., sociology and psychology, '82) Plaintiff in the landmark lawsuit that overturned CA's Proposition 8.

Department Website

General Catalog Information

More Information

Sociology Department
226 Rachel Carson College
University of California, Santa Cruz
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, California 95064
(831) 459-4888