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Experiential Learning

The Department of Social and Applied Behavioral Sciences encourages all of our students to engage in experiential learning, which is:

Through direct experience and focused reflection, sociology majors increase knowledge, develop skills, and clarify values. The capstone (SOCI 420 or CRIM 450) and writing in the major (SOCI301) courses offer experiential learning practices that are applied and learner centered. Internship opportunities and scholarship actively promote knowledge building and generate new understandings of the social world for students and faculty. Sociology faculty also sponsor students pursuing cooperative education (SOCI 392).

Required Experiential Learning (BA Majors Only)

SOCI 419: Internship in Sociology and Criminal Justice (Capstone):  This course enriches college education by enabling students to integrate theory and practice. SOCI 419 introduces interns to employment possibilities while they receive valuable field experience and build professional networks. A number of students are hired by their internship agencies after they graduate. The internship provides students an opportunity to clarify their career direction, obtain employment, and access valuable letters of recommendation for other employment or graduate school. SOCI 419 is a part of the Third Tier (Integrative Learning) of Shepherd University’s Core Curriculum and addresses the following competencies: lifelong learning, oral communication, written communication, experiential learning, and ethical practice. Students must complete 120 hours of internship activity. The course is has a hybrid learning environment in SAKA where a portfolio, final theory paper, discussion forums, resume workshop, and internship paperwork are submitted electronically. A midterm semester evaluation appoint is also required.

Required Experiential Learning (BS Majors Only) 

SOCI 420: Senior Thesis: In this course, students design and conduct original research. They form a focused research question, engage in a literature review, identify an appropriate source of data, and accompany a methodology. Students compile the results and analyses, and organize each component into a formal research paper. Proper sampling techniques, ethical practices, and social scientific technical writing skills are vigorously applied. A complete report of the research is submitted and findings are presented in a public forum. SOCI 420 is the Department of Sociology’s writing in the major course.

Cooperative Learning (Open to all students)

SOCI 392: Co-Op Sociology/Criminal Justice: Cooperative learning allows students to use their current employment as a place to learn through the application of sociological concepts, ideas, and theories to work-related experiences. In order to engage in cooperative learning, students are required to find a faculty sponsor who will help establish learning objectives and manage all academic outcomes.

The Cooperative Education program allows students to earn upper-division credits while working in an area that relates to their sociology major or anthropology/geography minor, or other academic programs being offered at the University.  This work is completed at the student’s current place of employment or at a place that the student secures with the help of the Director of Cooperative Education (Joseph L. Jefferson).  The co-op opportunity can be paid or unpaid employment/internship.  The credits that students earn can be used as substitutes for a class, elective credits in your major or minor, or as general elective credits.  Cooperative Education is available in almost every academic department at the University/Martinsburg Center including the RBA program.  For more information about what is required for cooperative education please contact Dr. Robert M. Anthony ( or Dr. Chiquita Howard-Bostic ( about faculty sponsorship for any student enrolled in a sociology course. Please indicate your interest in the course as well as a basic description of what you plan to do.

Conference Participation (Optional for Majors/Minors)

Both students and faculty are active participants at professional conferences across the U.S. Extracurricular projects are beneficial to college students. They help bring students and faculty together, let students interact in a formal atmosphere, and allow students to strengthen their leadership and communications skills. Shepherd students have presented regularly at the East Coast Colleges and Social Science Association (ECCSSA) Annual Meetings. Papers have also been presented at the Mid-Atlantic Undergraduate Social Research Conference, which is rotated among regional colleges and universities. Shepherd has hosted the event three times since the first meeting in 1980. The late V.J. Brown, Ph.D., was one of the co-founders of the Mid-Atlantic Conference.