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."


The humanities truck on site in the community

Research ·

AU Community Focused on a More Equitable and Peaceful World

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The US Supreme Court recently delivered its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson – which overturned Roe v. Wade and ended the constitutional right to abortion

Law ·

A New World: American’s Future Without Roe v. Wade

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

Michael Bader is part of a team of researchers based at Columbia University that was just awarded $42,321 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to research alcohol-related and built environment factors that can be modified to prevent pedestrian road traffic deaths. This represents year one of an expected $182,278 four-year award.

Ernesto Castaneda-Tinoco spoke with Colombia’s NTN24, Telemundo Nacional, and Telemundo 44, DC about Joe Biden's inauguration and its effects.

Ernesto Castaneda-Tinoco was featured in El Paso Matters about his lab's research into the susceptibility among Latino people in El Paso to Covid-19. March 2021  

Cynthia Miller-Idriss appeared on Keen On and WTOP's The Hunt to discuss how the far right recruits youth.

Ernesto Castañeda published "Urban Contexts and Immigrant Organizations: Differences in New York, El Paso, Paris, and Barcelona" in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.

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.