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About the Department

Throughout its 75-year history, the Department of Sociology has been known for the cutting-edge research of its faculty and for its exceptionally strong graduate and undergraduate training programs. The Department is part of the College of Arts and Sciences.


Department faculty use sophisticated theoretical reasoning and rigorous methodological tools — some of which were developed by Cornell faculty — to answer fundamental questions about the social world, how it is organized, and how it is changing. The Department’s focus on “basic science” is complemented by a deep commitment to public engagement and to informing public policy.

The Department is internationally renowned for its excellence in three broad areas of sociology: computational social science, including mathematical sociology and social network analysis; economic sociology, including the study of market transitions, organizations, and entrepreneurship and innovation; and inequality, broadly defined to include education, poverty, social mobility, spatial inequalities, gender, race and ethnicity, immigration and migration, family, health, and work and occupations. It also has significant strength in comparative and historical analysis, culture, family, political sociology, quantitative methodology, social demography, social psychology, sociology of law, and urban sociology.

Intellectual Community

At 12-14 lines, Cornell Sociology is the smallest top 20 department in the country. However, the intellectual community for sociologists at Cornell is much broader than our size implies, because of strong connections with sociologists in other units on campus. Six faculty from Policy Analysis and Management, Industrial and Labor Relations, Human Development, or Science and Technology Studies hold courtesy or joint appointments in Sociology.

The Graduate Field in Sociology includes 12-16 sociologists from outside the Department who teach courses that are cross-listed in Sociology, train graduate students, and participate in the department’s intellectual life.

Most department faculty are also deeply involved in multidisciplinary research centers and initiatives. Three such centers are housed within Sociology: the Center for the Study of Inequality, the Center for the Study of Economy and Society, and the Social Dynamics Laboratory.

Sociology faculty and students are also active participants in Cornell Information Sciences, the Cornell Population Center, the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, and a host of other research centers and workshops. Four of the six past directors of the Institute for the Social Sciences held appointments in Sociology, and eight Department members have been team leaders or members of ISS Collaborative Projects.


Our undergraduate courses range from small seminars to large lecture courses. Some of our faculty members have won prestigious College teaching awards, and all are committed to offering the best possible training in sociology.

The department offers a variety of undergraduate courses each year, spanning a range of faculty and student interest. We graduate 30-50 undergraduate majors per year, making Sociology one of the larger majors in the College adjusted for faculty size. We encourage undergraduate students to participate in faculty research and to conduct independent research through the Honors program.

The Center for the Study of Inequality offers the popular Minor in Inequality Studies, which is open to any student in any major in any college at Cornell. In 2015/2016, the Minor enrolled more than 230 students and graduated nearly 100 students, making it the largest interdisciplinary Minor administered in the College of Arts and Sciences and one of the largest on campus.