Department of Sociology

Ledroit Park

The Department of Sociology of the College of Arts and Sciences serves the university and students from the DC area, the United States, and throughout the world as a center for the advanced study of social institutions, global affairs, and social justice. Its programs offer in-depth training in sociological theory and emphasize research methodology at the BA and MA levels, through a BA/MA program (allowing students to complete a BA and MA in 5 years), and two graduate certificates: one in Public Sociology and another in Social Research.

AU Program Ranked in Top 20 

The American University Sociology Master's Program was ranked 19th out of all sociology programs, scoring especially high for "Best Practicum Experience." 

Sociologist Jobs Growing by 5% in 2020s

US Department of Labor projects steady growth in the 2020s with DC salaries of $88K above the national median. 

Faculty Experts’ Corner: Ernesto Castañeda

Sociology professor Ernesto Castañeda discusses racial and ethnic health disparities in coronavirus cases and deaths, particularly among Latinos. He examines the structural inequalities behind the numbers, including the disproportionate rate of Latinos working in essential positions and with preexisting medical conditions.

Read Ernesto's latest op-ed.

Beyond the Curriculum

Our programs prepare students for a variety of careers in social advocacy, research, teaching, human services, and policy-making institutions in both the public and private sectors in Washington and beyond.

American University's location provides unparalleled access to government, research institutions, data and archival sources, advocacy organizations, and leaders involved in social change. Because AU attracts many international students, the capacity to think through issues beyond national borders is often present with every year's new cohort; at the same time, faculty and students alike frame global politics, economics, and social and cultural issues at a local level, and often use global and local frames to understand social phenomena.

Beyond the experience of being in DC, sociology majors and minors-a majority in fact-take a semester to participate in the AU Abroad program. Many students find that a SOCY major is easily completed as a double major. The Department now offers a choice among three courses (SOCY 100, 110, and 150) as gateways to the sociology major and minor programs. Our relationships with Critical Race, Gender & Culture Studies, the Center for Israel Studies, and our Center on Health, Risk, and Society make our department a vibrant one within the AU community.

Center on Health, Risk, and Society

The Center on Health, Risk and Society (CHRS), based in the Department of Sociology at American University, is an interdisciplinary community of scholars conducting research on the social dimensions of health and health-related risks, especially on their roots in social inequality, and on structural interventions aimed at addressing them.

Mission Statement

"Our common purpose is education and research for social justice in an increasingly global social system. We expect to create sociological knowledge and apply professional research skills to inform effective policies and programs for social change. We intend to empower ourselves, faculty and students, with the knowledge, skills, and commitment necessary to participate in building equitable, humane, and sustainable social institutions. We consider one source of our strength to be the multicultural diversity of our department, and we seek every opportunity to expand that strength."


Tim Doud with his Art at Amtrak mural “A Great Public Work”

Research ·

College Faculty Receive 80 Awards Totaling Over $11 Million in 2023

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People on dirt road along barbed-wire fence.

International ·

Does the US Really Have an Immigration Crisis?

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Statement in Solidarity with Anti-Racist Efforts from sociology faculty.

  • Kim Blankenship received a supplemental grant of $23,920 (total awarded amount $176,760) from Yale University for the project "The effects of rental assistance on type 2 diabetes self-management and control."

  • Kim Blankenship received a total funding of $1,744 from George Washington University, including supplemental funds of $872. The project is titled "Latino Scholars in HIV/AIDS Research Education (SHARE)."

    Ernesto Castañeda spoke with The Boston Globe about the ways politicians frame issues related to immigration. 

  • Michelle Newton-Francis with J. Chaikof published "Endometriosis on campus: How students manage their pain and academics." Journal of Diversity in Higher Education (2024).
  • Nicole Angotti received a $175,015 grant from the NIH for the project “Intergenerational Intervention: Employing Youth to Promote Aging Healthy with HIV in Rural South Africa.”
  • Ernesto Castañeda spoke with The Daily Beast about drug trafficking in South America.
  • Michelle Newton-Francis (Sociology) and former graduate student Jessica Chaikof published an article titled “Endometriosis on campus: How students manage their pain and academics” in the Journal of Diversity in Higher Education.
  • Tracy Weitz received a $6,018 grant from the Society of Family Planning for the project “What are the prices of abortions later in pregnancy.” Weitz also appeared on The A-Files podcast to discuss the reproductive justice movement in the United States.
  • Tracy Weitz received a $49,726 grant from the Society of Family Planning for the project “Extending Gestation Beyond the Mythical Point of Viability.”
  • Ernesto Castañeda spoke with The National Desk, Univision, France24, and NTN24 about a variety of topics related to US immigration policy and activity on the southern border.
  • Tracy Weitz (Sociology) was nominated and appointed to the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine Standing Committee on Reproductive Health, Equity, and Society. Weitz spoke with The 19th about current statewide attacks on abortion rights and accessibility.
  • Kim Blankenship received a $12,885 grant from the George Washington University for the project “District of Columbia Center for AIDS Research (DC CFAR).”
  • Kim Blankenship received supplemental funding in the amount of $39,930 (in addition to previous grant funding of $112,910) from Yale University for the project “The effects of rental assistance on type 2 diabetes self-management and control.”
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow Steven Dashiell published The Complex Relationship between Black Gamers and Hogwarts Legacy.
  • Prof. Ernesto Castañeda published Despite the End of Title 42, Restrictions on Asylum Seekers Are Expected to Continue under Biden Administration.
  • Tracy Weitz received a $500,000 award from the Hewlett Foundation for "Ensuring the timely share and use of information about changes in the US abortion landscape.”
  • Ernesto Castaneda-Tinoco spoke with Newsweek about the end of Title 42.
  • Kim Blankenship received a grant from the George Washington University for “Latino Scholars in HIV/AIDS Research Education (SHARE).”
  • Nicole Angotti received a $176,677 grant ($367,138 over two years) from NIH for “Intergeneration Intervention: Employing Youth to Promote Aging Healthy with HIV in Rural South Africa.”
  • Tracy Weitz spoke with The New Yorker about Planned Parenthood’s focus on self-preservation and its impact on the pro-choice movement.
  • Ernesto Castañeda and Daniel Jenks apply sociological terms to current protests in “How to Understand Protest.”
  • Cynthia Miller-Idriss discusses the presence of far-right groups at protests over the death of George Floyd in Politico.
  • Molly Dondero received a grant of $29,750, from the Russell Sage Foundation, for her project entitled: "Immigrant Integration and Institutional Attachments in an Era of Enforcement."
  • Alumna Shannon Post coordinates the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Project Green Reach for youngsters—and offers favorite houseplant tips.
  • Cynthia Miller-Idriss discussed how far-right extremists might exploit the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns to recruit youth.
  • Michael Bader spoke to the Washington Post about families pooling resources during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Mike Murphy won the 2020 College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Award for Outstanding Staff.
  • Cynthia Miller-Idriss wrote an op-ed in Politico titled "Stop calling far-right terrorists ‘crazy’"
  • Cynthia Miller-Idriss became a fellow at the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right.
  • Vice Magazine interviewed Cynthia Miller-Idriss for a Q-and-A about the relationship between far-right youth culture and fashion. 
  • Michelle Newton-Francis won the Provost's Award for Outstanding Faculty Mentorship in Undergraduate Research or Creative Work.
Person in blue veil reading a red book.

International ·

Afghan Scholars-in-Exile Providing Online Education for Girls Living under Taliban

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