Sociology students enjoy an interactive museum in Chicago

Departmental mission

Cornell sociology courses encourage you to look at society with a fresh perspective, to question your assumptions, to investigate people's actions, and to explore the organization of society. You will discover a basis for thinking about social alternatives, imagining possibilities for social justice, and being an engaged citizen.

Thinking anthropologically allows you to explore the rich diversity in human life and encourages respect for individuals and for other cultures. Anthropology  is built upon extended observation of people in the places where they reside, while participating directly in activities whenever possible.

Explore our programs

The department of sociology and anthropology combines two distinct, yet related, disciplines. You can major (or minor) in either sociology or anthropology or combine the two disciplines for a sociology and anthropology major. In addition, if you're interested in law, criminal justice, global studies, health fields, human-social services, public policy, or urban studies, faculty can recommended a course of study that will provide a strong pre-professional foundation.

Sociology and anthropology courses also contribute to the following interdisciplinary programs:

Benefits of One Course At A Time

Cornell's One Course At A Time schedule facilitates strong learning communities and allows professors to approach material from multiple perspectives and in a variety of teaching and learning styles. Courses incorporate discussions, lectures, guest speakers, films, and other experiential learning activities. 

Off-campus study

Direct studies of culture are critical to the practice of anthropology, and the block plan enables field-based studies on a regular basis.

For example, you might conduct daily archaeological fieldwork with State Archaeologist John Doershuk at a local site during Archaeological Field Methods. In Professor Misha Quill's Anthropology of Tourism, you might travel to the Bahamas to explore the impact of tourism and development on local culture. In Applied Anthropology, you might travel to Ireland, where you'll investigate the contemporary changes that connect the island nation to the European Union through immigration, refugees, and global economic crises. 


In a range of courses and through independent studies, you might work with faculty to develop independent research projects and present your research at the Cornell College Student Symposium, the Iowa Sociological Association Annual Meeting, and the Midwest Sociological Society Annual Meeting. Several students have applied for and received awards at both of these professional meetings. 

Internships and fellowships

Some of our recent students have held internships or fellowships at the following:

  • Office of the State Archaeologist, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
  • The Field Museum, Chicago, Illinois
  • Youth United for Action, East Palo Alto, California
  • Jeremiah Project, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Overseas Migration Museum, Kobe, Japan
  • Covenant House of Texas, Houston, Texas
  • Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission, Cedar Rapids, Iowa