Department of Anthropology, Sociology, and Urban Studies

Students in the Department of Anthropology, Sociology, and Urban Studies at Wheaton will develop a biblical foundation for understanding social interaction both within American society and across cultures and be well prepared for a variety of careers in addition to graduate school. We facilatate events and opportunities to help our students develop a biblical foundation for understanding social interaction both within American society and across cultures - both inside and outside the classroom.

What's the difference between sociology and anthropology? Dr. Reynolds explains:

Career, Academic, and Biblical Training For Today's World

The Department of Anthropology, Sociology, and Urban Studies wants students to understand themselves as embedded within and products of social and cultural contexts. Students will address social problems and cultural analysis through theory, data, and practical solutions. In all of our classes, students practice and acquire career skills that translate into numerous fields in which our graduates successfully enter after Wheaton. This includes developing creative critical thinking and problem-solving skills, practicing oral and written communication as well as collaboration with peers and faculty, utilizing quantitative and/or qualitative data collection and analysis, and learning how to be more culturally response in an increasingly diverse United States and global context. Students in both programs are well-prepared for graduate school; students from the department continue to be accepted into competitive graduate programs at a rate comparative to the best schools in the country. This includes Ph.D. programs in Sociology and Anthropology, law school, social work programs, medical school, and more. Learn more about our alumni >

The general goal of the department is to develop a biblical foundation for understanding social interaction both within American society and across cultures. The sociology faculty recognize the need to communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ amid social processes - like socialization, stratification, and urbanization - at multiple levels of social interaction including the micro level (face-to-face communication, such as in the family), the middle-range level (within organizations and social movements), and the macro level (societal and cultural structures). The anthropology faculty emphasize both the particularities of varying cultural systems, as well as the universal characteristics of humans made in the image of God. Recognizing culture as a set of only partial solutions to human problems, Wheaton's anthropology faculty also examine the ways in which the gospel and culture can operate jointly to explain human adaptations in different societies. Similarly, anthropology's exploration of human universals is based on a distinctively Christian perspective, combining a biblical orientation with empirical precision. 

A major in sociology or anthropology complements and fits nicely with the Human Needs and Global Resources (HNGR) certificate program and the Wheaton in Chicago semester.

Department History 

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology began in 1957 during the presidency of V. Raymond Edman under the leadership of chairman Gordon Jaeck. Formerly, sociology had been a major in the history and social sciences department and anthropology had been a major in the archaeology department. Both majors had already existed for almost two decades.

Sociology began with Dr. Lamberta Voget who joined the faculty in 1935. Dr. Voget was recognized on campus for her urban sociology immersion trips to Chicago, and became increasingly popular among the student body during the social activism in the 1960s. She retired in 1975.

Wheaton was one of the first liberal arts colleges in the country to offer anthropology courses and was the first Christian liberal arts college to have an anthropology major which was popular from its beginning. Billy Graham ('43) is probably the most well-known graduate in anthropology. Multiple sociology and anthropology graduates have teaching careers in colleges and universities around the country.

In 2023, the department was expanded to include the Urban Studies major, offering exciting new opportunities for connection and synergy between these three dynamic majors.

Learn More

Want to talk with someone from the department? We’re happy to answer your questions. Simply email us at or call 630.752.5036.