Sociology & Criminology

"The fascination of Sociology lies in the fact that its perspective makes us see in a new light the very world in which we have lived all our lives." Peter Berger, Invitation to Sociology

How do societies function? Why does inequality exist and persist? How are an individual's consciousness and actions shaped by their surrounding society and culture, and vice versa? Sociology is, broadly speaking, the study of human social relationships and institutions. It touches many aspects of life, including crime, religion, education, family, the state, race, class, shared cultural beliefs, and both social stability and change. It offers a way of seeing beyond the surface of what we take for granted to understand the underlying forces that shape society and its visible and invisible structures.

The mission of the Sociology department at UNM is to advance the comprehension of society, and explain and analyze human relationships, social institutions, and the dynamics of social change. Our diverse faculty engages major sociological issues of global, national, and regional significance. Our department has multiple areas of expertise, concentrated in five main specializations: crime, law, and social control; the sociology of health and medicine; race and ethnicity; global/transnational sociology with a particular focus on Latin America; and social movements. Other areas of emphasis include: gender, education, political sociology, religion, community-engaged research/public sociology, and science and knowledge. We are committed to sociological excellence in research, teaching, and public service, pursued in socially responsible ways.

Broadly, faculty research in these areas addresses how structural and social conditions influence interactions and outcomes across various institutions, with a particular emphasis on the patterns of inequality that shape these interactions and outcomes. This includes qualitative, quantitative, and community engaged work on crime and corrections, housing, education, employment, health and mental health, immigration, intimate relationships, and religion. 

We offer several B.A. degrees, including a Criminology degree and optional concentrations for the Sociology degree in Human Services and Social Policy and Pre-Law.

Because Sociology emphasizes both qualitative and quantitative analysis, an undergraduate degree in Sociology provides students with excellent preparation for many career fields and further academic work in sociology, political science, or other social/behavioral sciences, or professional training in fields like law, medicine, business, education, and social work. You might use observation, survey, historical document interpretation, census or other demographic data, statistics, media analysis, and interviews in your studies. You will learn to ask important research questions, think deeply, evaluate information, and communicate clearly and effectively. These are all tremendously valuable skills in many fields.

Human Services and Social Policy

The concentration is designed for students interested in pursuing a graduate degree or a career in human services, social work, social policy, health care, mental health, or education (K-12 and post-secondary). The concentration aims to provide broad thematic coverage of these fields by drawing upon elective courses that address topics critical to understanding the context within which welfare, health, mental health, and educational institutions operate, including social problems, race/ethnic relations, and socio-economic inequality. This concentration provides instruction aappropriate for future work in public and private agencies, as preparation for law school or for graduate study in social work, public administration and business administration. 


The concentration in Pre-Law is designed for students interested in law school or other careers in the legal field, and highlights those aspects of law that overlap with crime and criminal justice. The concentration provides students with an introduction to the causes of crime and deviance as well as social and institutional responses to this behavior. Students can choose from courses focusing on the personal and social forces that give rise to crime, as well as courses that examine the role of the legal and criminal justice systems in dealing with criminals and reducing crime rates. This concentration provides a solid background for careers or further training in police, correctional or legal institutions. 


The Sociology Department offers a specialized program in criminology, designed to give students a comprehensive introduction to the field. Courses focus on the characteristics and causes of crime and deviance and on the origins, nature and consequences of societal reactions to crime and deviance, giving particular attention to the criminal justice system. Basic instruction is also given in sociological theory and research methods. In this program, students will become familiar with major sources of crime data, the key correlates of crime and delinquency, mainstream criminological theories, and the primary formal social control institutions.

The program is particularly appropriate for students wishing to pursue one of the following career options: 

  • Graduate work in the social sciences with a special emphasis on criminology or criminal justice. 
  • A career in criminal justice (e.g. law enforcement, corrections, crime prevention), especially in agencies or departments involved in planning and evaluation. 
  • A career in law, social work or counseling 

Undergraduate Program

UNM Catalog

Programs of Study


  • B.A. Criminology
  • B.A. Sociology
  • B.A. Sociology - Human Services and Social Policy
  • B.A. Sociology - Pre-Law
  • Criminology
  • Sociology
Shared Undergraduate/Graduate Credit Programs Available: 
  • B.A. in Sociology and M.P.A. (Master of Public Administration)

Contact Information

Undergraduate Academic Advisor(s): 
Advisor office locations vary. Please click on your advisor's name below to learn more.
Advising Email:
Department Location:
Social Sciences (Bldg 78), Suite 1103

Department/Program Website