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The Department of Sociology and Criminology offers a variety of opportunities for students to conduct research, engage in experiential learning, get involved on campus and more.

Experiential Learning

The department sponsors innovative community-based learning, domestic study and short-term study abroad opportunities. For example, the following experiential opportunities have been offered in the past:

  • The community-based learning course El Salvador: Election Observation and Democratic Participation incorporates participation in an international electoral observer mission.
  • Dominican students do service with the people of Cuernavaca, Mexico, in partnership with the Cuernavaca Center for Intercultural Dialogue on Development.
  • Dominican students travel to Venezuela to study health care delivery in indigenous communities.

In fact, students can add a community-based learning component to nearly any sociology or criminology course. This one-credit option requires advance instructor consent, community service and guided reflection. Community-based learning gives students the chance to add depth to their education while also benefiting the community.

Honor Society

Dominican hosts the Illinois Kappa Chapter of Pi Gamma Mu, the international social science honor society. The University has been affiliated with this prestigious academic organization since 1952.

Students who meet the following requirements may be invited to join:

  • Junior or senior status
  • In the upper 35 percent of their class
  • Completion of at least 20 semester hours in social sciences
  • GPA of B or better in social science coursework

Membership includes a certificate, membership card, gold-plated key pin and subscriptions to the Society's journal and newsletter. New members are inducted each spring. Membership in Pi Gamma Mu can be valuable in finding employment and entering the federal Civil Service.


The department strongly encourages all sociology and criminology majors to complete at least one internship to gain valuable work experience while earning academic credit. Internships in social service are conducted under close departmental supervision and can offer between two and eight course credits.

Department majors have held internships at a variety of fine organizations, including:

  • Chicago Department of Aging and Family Services
  • Chicago Public Defender’s Office
  • City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations
  • Cook County Circuit Court
  • Deerfield Youth and Social Services
  • DuPage County Housing Authority
  • Make-A-Wish Foundation
  • Mayor’s Office for Education (Chicago)
  • Social Security Administration
  • Various municipal police departments

"I encourage all students to start planning for an internship as soon as possible because it will give them experience, the start of a professional network and even a letter of recommendation that will help build their future."

–Michelle VanNatta, PhD

Associate Professor of Criminology

Undergraduate Research

Sociology and criminology undergraduates at Dominican have a long tradition of conducting research.

Dominican’s Office of Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Investigations promotes undergraduate research at Dominican. The SI (Scholarship & Ideas) Expo, held on campus each April, offers an important opportunity for students from all departments to present their independent research. Sociology and criminology students have traditionally been well represented at Expo.

In addition, faculty members sometimes invite top students to attend or submit papers to the annual conference of the Midwest Sociological Society.

It's been so exciting to see our students take their independent work to such a high, even publishable level.

–Michelle VanNatta, PhD

Associate Professor of Criminology


Dominican sponsors or co-sponsors a sociology-related conference that reinforce the University’s commitment to the creation of a more just and humane world. Both conferences are led by sociology faculty members.

  • Every March, Dominican University and Concordia University Chicago co-present the annual Gender and Women's Studies Mini Conference. This half-day conference features presentations about women and gender by faculty, staff and students from both universities. Christina Perez, associate professor of sociology and director of the Women and Gender Studies program at Dominican, co-directs the conference.