Vision Statement

The Department of Sociology and Criminology at Howard University strives to be a recognized leader in critical, public and applied sociology. Specifically, we seek to develop cutting edge research in the service of efforts to overcome poverty, racism, and other forms of social inequality, not just within the United States, but globally, with special attention to questions involving the criminal justice system and struggles for health equity and climate and environmental justice.

Students who major or minor in our programs should expect rigorous training reflecting the state of the art in social theory and quantitative and qualitative empirical research methods as well as in our three substantive areas of concentration. This training will prepare them both intellectually and practically for a wide range of careers in which they may contribute to the solution of pressing real-world social problems.

History of Sociology at Howard

The discipline of Sociology at Howard University has a long and venerable history, which began when Professor Kelly Miller, who had joined the Howard faculty as a mathematician in 1890, introduced Howard’s first sociology course in 1902. He recognized the importance of sociological perspectives for understanding and, thus, responding to the living conditions of African Americans.

Miller’s scholarship, teaching, and service to the community, all in the context of the University's mission, eventually led to the establishment of the Department of Sociology in 1919. As a result of the Department’s growth in size and reputation, a Master’s Degree program was introduced in 1934 to accompany the existing Baccalaureate Degree program.

It was also in 1934 that Professor E. Franklin Frazier, who later became one of America's leading sociologists of his time, joined the faculty. Frazier chaired the Department from 1939 to 1959, continuing the tradition of defining sociology’s centrality in analyzing and understanding “race” as a social rather than a biological construct. In accomplishing his goals, he crossed socially institutionalized settings, as presented in his publications, ranging from the family to religion to political-economic relations.

Today, having benefited over the years from the excellent leadership of committed faculty members, and having offered the Doctoral Degree program since 1972, the Department continues this tradition of applying sociological perspectives in addressing root causes and manifestations of social inequality.