Sociology Degree Guide

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Students earning a sociology degree study the systems and structures that govern the way humans interact with society, within communities, and with one another.

Prospective learners who are interested in the complex forces that keep civilization in balance and the various religious, political, cultural, and ecological factors that can throw that balance into disarray should consider earning a sociology degree.

Sociology is the systematic study of society, culture, and group relationships. This page covers sociology degree requirements at multiple levels, plus jobs for sociology majors and potential salaries for graduates. It also examines answers to frequently asked questions, the importance of accreditation, and professional organizations for sociology students and graduates.

What Kinds of Sociology Degrees Are There?

Sociology offers diverse employment opportunities that require varying levels of education. The sections below provide information about coursework, program lengths, and professional opportunities associated with each sociology degree level.

Associate Degree in Sociology

An associate degree in sociology examines foundational concepts in the field, including social stratification, culture, inequality, and globalization. These programs typically comprise 60 credits and take two years of full-time study to complete. Courses may cover topics like social research, law and society, race and ethnic relations, and social psychology. Graduates may work in correctional facilities, human service organizations, and paraprofessional roles.

Bachelor's Degree in Sociology

A bachelor's in sociology program includes general education, elective, and major requirements. Learners may take classes on topics like interpersonal relationships and families, individual investigation in sociology, and researching society. These programs may also offer concentrations like economic sociology and global development, social data research, sociology of law, and urban sociology.

This degree typically comprises 120 credits and takes four years of full-time study to complete, though some programs offer accelerated timelines. This highly interdisciplinary degree qualifies graduates for multiple roles in diverse fields.

What's the Difference Between a BA and a BS in Sociology?

Universities may offer two types of sociology degrees: a bachelor of arts (BA) and a bachelor of science (BS). BS in sociology programs focus more on research theories and methodologies than BA programs, concentrating on data collection and analysis. They also typically include more courses focused on the major. In contrast, BA in sociology programs take a more interdisciplinary approach, focusing more on the liberal arts than BS programs.

The Best Online Bachelor's Programs in Sociology

Master's Degree in Sociology

Master's in sociology programs provide advanced knowledge and skills, emphasizing quantitative approaches, ethnographic studies, and international research. Courses may include understanding race and ethnicity in American society, the politics of algorithms, the changing American city, and social demography.

Students can often customize their degrees through specializations in areas like gender and sexuality, class and stratifications, or social movements and social change. In addition to coursework, learners often must complete field experiences or a thesis. These programs typically comprise 60 credits and take two years of full-time study to complete.

Doctoral Degree in Sociology

The terminal degree in the field, a doctorate in sociology prepares graduates for leadership roles as well as research and teaching positions. Learners typically focus their studies on a niche area, such as criminology and deviance or inequalities in gender, race, and ethnicity. These programs usually take 3-5 years to complete and require students to research, write, and defend a dissertation.

What Can You Do With a Sociology Degree?

You can pursue many careers with a sociology degree. Organizations in virtually every industry can benefit from professionals with excellent communication, analytical, and problem-solving skills. Graduates with a sociology degree are qualified for positions in most industries.

Over 40% of sociology professionals work in research and development for social science- and humanities-related organizations. Other common professional environments include educational services organizations and state government facilities.

The following list highlights popular industries and careers for graduates with a sociology degree.

Business

A sociology degree gives students analytical, organizational, and research skills that prepare them for roles in business. For example, management analysts work to improve businesses by collecting and organizing information about organizational issues, assessing financial data, and recommending organizational changes. These professionals typically need at least a bachelor's degree.

Social and Community Services

Graduates with a bachelor's in sociology degree may find sociology jobs as social and community service managers. These professionals engage with community stakeholders to identify and build programs and services that benefit the community. They may oversee administrative tasks, analyze data, and recommend program and service improvements. Social and community service managers benefit from strong organizational, communication, and problem-solving skills.

Justice System

Graduates with a degree in sociology can pursue roles in the justice system. many graduates become rehabilitation counselors, professionals who assist people within the justice system who are struggling with emotional, mental, developmental, and physical disabilities. They may offer individual and group counseling, develop treatment plans, connect clients with community resources, and maintain client records. This role typically requires a master's degree and a license.

Research

Graduates with a doctoral degree in sociology can pursue research positions as sociologists. Sociologists study community, organizational, and societal structures and how individuals engage with them. They may develop and conduct research projects, collect and analyze data, present research findings at conferences and in publications, and collaborate with relevant stakeholders.

Education

Graduates with an advanced degree in sociology can pursue positions as postsecondary educators. These professionals plan lessons, collaborate with department members to develop curricula, and assess student learning. They may also conduct their own research. While students with a master's degree can sometimes find teaching positions at community colleges, most four-year universities require professors to hold a doctoral degree in their field.

What Kind of Salary Can I Earn With a Sociology Degree?

Graduates with a sociology degree can pursue a variety of careers across industries. The table below provides median salaries for potential sociology careers, but students should note that salaries can vary significantly depending on the location of the position,your employer, and your experience.

Position Median Salary Job Growth
(2018-2028)
Management Analyst $85,260 14%
Social and Community Service Managers $67,150 13%
Rehabilitation Counselor $35,950 10%
Sociologist $83,420 9%
College Professor $79,540 11%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Sociology Professional Organizations

American Sociological Association

Established in 1905, ASA strives to advance the field of sociology and establish ethical standards for professionals in the field. Members have access to conferences, mentoring opportunities, and online resources. Students enjoy a membership discount.

Sociologists for Women in Society

SWS focuses on sociological feminist scholarship and theory. Members have access to leadership training, career development opportunities, and cutting-edge information in the field. Students enjoy a membership discount.

International Sociological Association

ISA represents over 4,500 sociologists from nearly 170 countries. Members have access to research committees, online journals, newsletters, and discounts on sociology-related books.

Accreditation for Sociology Programs

Accreditation indicates that a school meets high standards with respect to factors like faculty qualifications, student learning outcomes, and academic rigor. Schools may hold regional or national accreditation, with regional accreditation generally considered the more prestigious of the two. Six agencies grant regional accreditation to schools around the country, depending on where the school is located.

Accreditation benefits students in several ways. Only students at accredited schools qualify for federal financial aid, and many schools only accept degrees and transfer credits from accredited institutions. Additionally, many professional licenses and certifications require an accredited degree.

Certain programs within a school may also hold accreditation. Students interested in a sociology degree should look for programs accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation of Programs in Applied and Clinical Sociology (CAPACS).

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Do People Study Sociology?

People fascinated by human behavior, diversity, and social change gravitate toward a degree in sociology, which teaches them how to make a positive impact on communities.

Is Sociology a Hard Major?

Students who enjoy helping and working with people may find this degree easier than students uninterested in human dynamics.

Is Sociology a Good Major?

A sociology major particularly benefits students who are committed to being active and informed citizens who initiate positive changes in society.

Are Sociologists in Demand?

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for sociologists will grow 9% between 2018-2028 — faster than the national average for all occupations.

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