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About Us

What is sociology? What is criminology?

The Department of Sociology at The Ohio State University is home to two of the largest majors in the College of Arts and Sciences: sociology and criminology / criminal justice studies. 

Sociology is the study of human behavior in its context.  For example, how does your social network shape your behavior?  Why has inequality increased so much in the United States?  And what role do schools play in perpetuating or preventing inequality in society?  These are merely a few examples of from our own faculty’s research, but sociology touches on many additional topics, including the study of race relations, politics, culture, economic inequality, religion, crime, and much more.  The common thread across these thematic foci is that we use data and rigorous research methods to systematically and scientifically investigate how people and organizations are influenced by the characteristics of settings in which they reside and operate. 

Criminology is the study of the causes and consequence of criminal behavior.  For instance, why do some people stop committing crimes while others become entrenched? Why do some neighborhoods have more killing than others?  And why do some people go to prison for their crimes while others get probation?  Criminology also uses data on individuals, cities, and countries to understand patterns of crime and punishment.

Sociology and criminology at Ohio State

The Department of Sociology at Ohio State has a rich tradition of generating research about the most pressing issues facing today’s society. Our faculty and graduate students are widely recognized for their contributions to the following areas of study:

  • stratification and inequality
  • community and urban sociology
  • criminology
  • population and health
  • education
  • family dynamics
  • occupations and work
  • politics and social movement

The department ranks in the top 10% nationally for publications per faculty member, and our work is visible and impactful.  Whether we are providing scholarly material for reporters, writing op-eds in the New York Times, connecting religious leaders to relevant research, or showcasing research on Capitol Hill, the work of OSU sociologists is consequential.

Why major in sociology or criminology?

The short answer is that we provide our students with a strong foundation for entering the workforce or pursuing advanced degrees in the social sciences, law, or public health.  All students learn to make evidence-based arguments, analyze data, and acquire knowledge of other cultures so that they can collaborate in diverse workplace settings.  Our graduates find work in a variety of sectors, including public health, law, criminal justice, non-profit organizations, human rights advocacy, data analytics, and business. 

Undergraduate students can major in sociology or in criminology and criminal justice studies. We offer a Bachelor of Arts degree for both majors and a Bachelor of Science in sociology.  The B.S. option requires additional methods training and allows students to choose from one of three specialty areas—population dynamics and wellness; criminology, law and society; or social inequality and poverty. 

To review more information about the undergraduate level sociology degree(s) at Ohio State, please see the undergraduate program page.

The graduate program

Our graduate program is ranked 17th in the nation according to U.S. News and World Report and 10th nationally in the area of social stratification.  Other organizations rank us even higher; our department is ranked 8th in the world according to the “Shanghai Global Rankings.”  We prepare graduate students for success in any profession that requires versatile research capabilities, strong writing skills, and an ability to work in diverse environments.  Most of our Ph.D. graduates pursue careers in academia, although some choose positions in government (e.g., the U.S. Census Bureau) and the private sector (e.g., Facebook). 

To review more information about the graduate level sociology degree at Ohio State, please see the graduate program page.