Social Science

Social Science

Social Science

When you study a social science, you examine society and human behavior with a more scientific approach than you’ll find in the humanities, though some social sciences, such as History, tend to combine both social science and humanities methods. In the social sciences, an important goal is to discover what is measurable about human behavior, so you can make data-supported generalizations about what it is to be human and the predictable consequences when certain social, political, economic factors and human psychology come into play. Though we mention a “scientific” methodology, social sciences are different from natural sciences because they focus on human behaviors and social systems, whereas natural sciences focus on the natural and physical world around us. 

The major in Anthropology provides students with a strong foundation in Cultural Anthropology and the perspectives and expertise it offers: knowledge of regions, peoples, cultures, international/global issues; skills to research, analyze, communicate, work and use information in global, cross-cultural settings; and the values of respect and concern for other cultures and peoples. The major also provides students experience in applying that knowledge to social problems that affect their own communities.

Anthropology (BA) Major Information Flyer

In the Anthropology major you will:
  • Have a broad-based familiarity with the theories, positions, methodologies and topic areas that occupy the discipline of Anthropology.
  • Develop a sense of the major historical trends in Anthropology from its origins to the present, including the discipline’s distinctive concern with humankind in all its aspects, the culture concept, cultural relativism, and ethnocentrism among other foundational ideas, the historical role of anthropology in relation to the colonized world, and the application of anthropological knowledge to the solution of human problems in global, cross-cultural settings.
  • Understand and appreciate diversity in all its dynamic complexity, exploring the subject both at the level of the individual and of whole societies.
  • Present a considered written interpretation of a passage from a primary source anthropological text, laying out the main conclusion(s) and the argument(s) that the text advances, evaluating their significance in relation to other arguments and positions within anthropology, and presenting a critical analysis of the text.
  • Carry out a research project (fieldwork-based or library-based) that includes formulating and justifying a research question, collecting and analyzing data, and articulating conclusions.
  • Work in fields that require a nuanced perception of cultural difference; the ability to analyze, contextualize and interpret culture/cultural behaviors and beliefs; and the ability to integrate multiple threads of inquiry into a comprehensive whole.



Deviance, Crime, and Culture
The major in Deviance, Crime, and Culture uses an interdisciplinary and ethnographic approach to train students to research, analyze and understand deviance and crime in the context of culture.  With a focus on experiential learning through ethnographic fieldwork, core requirements include first-hand study of social problems, theoretical training in cross-cultural analysis, in social, political and structural inequality and in historical and contemporary interventions aimed at achieving social justice.  Students learn qualitative research and writing skills including observation, participant-observation, interviewing, mapping, case studies and archival research as well as quantitative literacy. A wide range of interdisciplinary elective courses give students an opportunity to develop their own areas of expertise such as interpersonal violence, crime and transgression, and individual and group conflict. In the capstone seminar students integrate current social and cultural theory with real-world ethnography to design and deliver a senior research proposal or an ethnographic field study on a subject of their choice. The professional skills students develop through this major prepare them for either careers or advanced study in the fields of criminal and social justice, law enforcement, community justice and intervention, civic activism and social science research. 

Deviance, Crime, and Culture (BA) Major Information Flyer

In the Deviance, Crime, and Culture major you will:
  • Understand and appreciate culture and diversity, exploring these subjects at the level of the individual and at the level of whole societies.
  • Understand social science concepts of deviance, crime and culture. 
  • Develop and refine written and oral communication skills including the presentation of data and analysis.
  • Develop information and ethical literacy skills.
  • Demonstrate experience in carrying out a research project involving ethnographic fieldwork utilizing qualitative research methods.
  • Be prepared to work in fields that require: a nuanced perception of cultural difference and the ability to integrate multiple threads of inquiry into a comprehensive whole.



Economics is the study of how people and societies make choices to accomplish individual and social purposes. In this major, students learn about individual, national and global economic behavior, and then apply various theoretical insights and methods of analysis to the contemporary challenges involving social and economic justice, discrimination, immigration, markets, and crime, among other topics.

Economics (BS) Major Information Flyer

In the Economics major you will:
  • Identify and describe economic issues including justice, the law, crime, the causes and effects of fraud, sustainability, and administration.
  • Analyze economic information by separating it into its constituent parts, carefully examining them so as to identify causes, relationships and possible results.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of alternative theoretical perspectives.
  • Propose ethical and logically consistent remedies/policies for economic problems.
  • Communicate effectively to a variety of audiences by means of oral presentations, written documents and quantitative graphs, charts and tables.



Forensic Psychology
The Forensic Psychology major is designed for students who are interested in the relationship between psychology and the criminal justice system. The mission of the Forensic Psychology major is to enhance students’ understanding of individual behavior, in terms of its biological, cognitive, social and emotional components and their interaction, and its effects on the broader community. Students will learn to employ an empirical approach to understand human behavior. The major prepares students for a number of careers and graduate work in psychology, social work, law enforcement, or other criminal justice professions.

Forensic Psychology (BA) Major Information Flyer

In the Forensic Psychology major you will:
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the historical and theoretical foundations of psychology, as well as key concepts, content, and research methods in the major sub-disciplines of psychology and in the field of “psychology and the law”.
  • Demonstrate appropriate information literacy, including the ability to perform effective database searches.
  • Demonstrate the ability to design an ethically appropriate psychological research study and analyze and interpret basic research data.
  • Gather, read, synthesize and critique primary source psychological and psycho-legal literature.
  • Communicate effectively through oral  and written presentations and demonstrate appropriate use of APA style.
  • Critically and skeptically evaluate psychological information and extend this critical thinking to one’s own work and all aspects of life-long learning.
  • Demonstrate an appreciation of contextual influences on individual behavior and diversity of perspectives, including those related to race, class, gender, sexuality, disability, nationality and culture.
  • Recognize professional ethics inherent in different aspects of psychology, including forensic psychology.
  • Demonstrate an appreciation of how psychology relates to real-life professional and personal situations.
  • Demonstrate an awareness of the scope and entry qualifications of professional and graduate programs in psychology.



Gender Studies
The Gender Studies major explores how gender and sexuality influence constructions of human identity historically and culturally, and how these in turn shape human development, behavior, and the processes of justice. Students in the major will learn to examine gender and sexuality from a broad variety of academic perspectives. As such, they become versatile thinkers with strong skills in critical problem solving, research, data collection, and writing. The Gender Studies major has been designed in the best tradition of liberal arts study: courses are structured to support independent inquiry, ethical reflection, and critical thought, and they culminate in a final research project that enables students to test their skills on a question of their own choosing. Students graduating with a BA in Gender Studies go on to a wide variety of careers and post–graduate study, including the arts, business, education, health care, media, politics, law, public policy and social work.

Gender Studies (BA) Major Information Flyer

In the Gender Studies major you will:
  • Identify assumptions about gender and sexuality and how they influence constructions of human identity in historical, cultural, and geographic contexts. 
  • Write arguments that examine the interrelationships between gender and sexuality and other identity categories, such as race, class, nationality, age, and abilities. 
  • Recognize major topics and methodological approaches in gender studies. 
  • Utilize accepted methods of gender studies research to investigate topics in the field. 
  • Connect scholarly inquiry on gender and sexuality to theories of social justice and activism.



Law and Society
The Law and Society major offers an interdisciplinary approach to the study of law and legal institutions, their impact on society, and society’s impact on them. The major is organized around the central theme of understanding law as an instrument of political and social change and examines questions concerning how law matters in people’s lives; how law and law–like systems of rules empower and constrain individuals, groups, organizations and communities; and how the structures and values in social institutions shape and are shaped by law.

Law and Society (BA) Major Information Flyer

In the Law and Society major you will:
  • Demonstrate knowledge of law, legal phenomena and legal institutions from a variety of perspectives outside the discipline of law, with a focus on the relationship between law and political and social change.
  • Initiate, develop, and present independent research addressing and analyzing the relationship between law and society.
  • Develop written and oral communication skills to express informed opinions about issues in law and society.



Latin American and Latinx Studies
The Latin American and Latinx Studies major draws on various social science disciplines, such as sociology, political science, anthropology and economics, as well as on disciplines in the humanities, including history, literature and the arts. By integrating these varied disciplines in the LLS courses, this major is designed to ensure that students will have both a comprehensive foundational and interdisciplinary knowledge of Latin American and Latinx Studies and a specialization in either Latin American Studies or Latinx Studies.

Latin American and Latinx Studies (BA) Major Information Flyer

In the Latin American and Latinx Studies major you will:
  • Understand the interdisciplinary nature of the study of Latin America and of Latinx communities in the U.S.
  • Integrate the fields of Latin American Studies and Latinx Studies to develop a deep understanding of the relationship between the social, economic, cultural, and political processes of Latin America and the development in the U.S. of communities of persons of Latin American origin or descent.
  • Grasp the relationship between the lives of individuals and the course of history, how one’s life intersects with larger social, political, and economic forces.
  • Appreciate the history of Latin America and that of Latina/os in the U.S. as they struggle for justice and human dignity in the face of persistent structures of injustice, inequality, and the abuse of power.
  • Think critically and evaluate contrasting texts, narratives, and discourses relevant to the diverse cultures of Latin America and U.S. Latinx communities.
  • Carry out a research project (fieldwork-based or library-based) that includes formulating and justifying a research question, collecting and analyzing data, and articulating conclusions.
  • Communicate research results in various formats, including written and oral presentation.
  • Possess cultural competency, the ability to work successfully in a variety of culturally diverse settings and to analyze, contextualize and interpret culture/cultural behaviors and beliefs.



Political Science
The major in Political Science introduces students to the principal fields of inquiry in political science. This major provides a program of study for students considering careers in a variety of fields, including public service, law, community affairs, international relations and politics. Students may select from among four concentrations–of–choice: Law, Courts and Politics which explores the intersection of the legal system and the broader political system; Justice and Politics, which examines the political philosophy and various societal values that underlie contemporary views of justice; American and Urban Politics and Policy, which emphasizes the role of political institutions in shaping solutions to contemporary urban problems; and Comparative/International Politics and Human Rights, which explores the global dimensions of politics and governance.

Political Science (BA) Major Information Flyer

In the Political Science major you will:
  • Initiate, develop, and present independent research.
  • Write effectively, engage in intellectually grounded debate, and form and express cogent arguments.
  • Develop skills in critical thinking in order to become knowledgeable citizens capable of reasoned judgments on contemporary political issues.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the major subfields of political science.



The major in Sociology will provide students with a comprehensive understanding of sociological theories and methodologies, as well as the research and analytical skills they need to work in and contribute to today’s globally interconnected world. The major focuses on the globalized nature of our society and the intensification of inequalities and related demands for social justice. It harnesses the discipline of sociology’s ability to put such social problems in their societal context for the purposes of understanding them and contributing to their resolution. Sociology at John Jay builds students’ knowledge of theoretical explanations of the relationship between people and their society, fosters the skills necessary to research, analyze, and communicate information about social problems, and cultivates values of empathy and understanding towards diverse groups and unequal conditions. The major also prepares those students interested in additional study for graduate programs (MA or Ph.D.) in Sociology, the growing fields of Global Studies, Urban Planning, Urban Studies, other associated social science disciplines, and law school.

Sociology (BA) Major Information Flyer

In the Sociology major you will:
  • Demonstrate through assignments and class discussion a sociological imagination, i.e., the ability to see connections between local, personal experiences and larger global, societal forces, and between individual troubles and pervasive social problems, in a global context.
  • Understand through readings and class discussion how the scientific study of society transcends common sense beliefs and conventional wisdom about people’s attitudes and behaviors.
  • Test the veracity of research hypotheses and be able to formulate basic research questions to guide studies of societal behavior, processes, and institutions by using qualitative and quantitative methods of collecting evidence.
  • Demonstrate familiarity with written works of classic and contemporary sociological theories that explain why people think and act as they do.
  • Demonstrate an understanding and mastery of sociological concepts through writing, explanatory, and presentational skills.