The sociology major, a social science, encompasses the study of the development of social groups. Those who major in this discipline learn about society, social problems, social change, diversity, and interactions within and between social groups. The field of sociology covers a wide variety of topics that include social inequality, race and ethnicity, gender studies, criminology, urban sociology and political sociology.
Students can earn an associate, bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in sociology. Associate degree programs are intended for those who plan to transfer to bachelor's degree programs. While there are a variety of alternative career choices available to those who have a bachelor's degree in sociology, some which require earning an advanced degree in another area, if you want to work as a sociologist you will need to earn a master's degree or a PhD in sociology. With a doctorate degree, you can also teach in a college or university.
Sample of Courses You Can Expect to Take
Bachelor's Degree Courses (Many of these courses are also offered by Associate Degree Programs)
- Introduction to Sociology
- Cultural Anthropology
- Contemporary Social Problems
- Aging in Society
- Minority Relations
- Contemporary Social Problems
- Marriage and Family Living
- Sociology of Families
- Crime and Society
- Research Methods
- Statistics for Social Research
- Sociology of Education
- Race, Class, and Gender
- Juvenile Delinquency
- Development of Sociological Thought
- Deviance and Society
- Classical Social Theory
- Contemporary Social Theory
Graduate Degree (Master's and Doctorate) Courses
- Sociology of Labor Markets
- Sociological Theory
- Sociological Methods
- Field Research Methods
- Fundamentals of Urban Sociology
- Historical Sociology
- Ethnographic Field Methods
Career Options With Your Degree*
- Bachelor's Degree: Mental Health Technician, Juvenile Justice Youth and Family Specialist, Job Skills Coach, Family Service Coordinator, Sociology Research Assistant
- Master's Degree: Sociologist, Community College Instructor, Market Research Statistician, Behavioral Health Specialist, Behavior Analyst, Research and Evaluation Coordinator
- Doctoral Degree: Sociologist, Professor, Researcher (university, government or private sector)
*This list was compiled by searching job sites for openings that require a degree in sociology. It includes options for those who graduate with a degree in sociology only. It does not include any jobs that require earning an additional degree in another discipline.
Typical Work Settings
Individuals who have sociology degrees work in a variety of settings. An undergraduate degree is often among the requirements for jobs in social service agencies. Master's degree recipients also find employment in social service agencies and doing research in the private sector. Some teach in community colleges. Individuals who have a PhD typically are on the faculty of colleges and universities. They are professors and researchers. Some are researchers in the private sector, working at think tanks. Others work for government agencies.
How High School Students Can Prepare for This Major
High schools students who are planning to study sociology in college should take classes in English and the social sciences. They should also hone their writing skills.
What Else You Need to Know
- Getting a bachelor's degree in sociology can help strengthen your communication, research and critical thinking skills all of which are useful in a variety of occupations.
- Studying sociology as an undergraduate can prepare you for graduate programs in other disciplines, such as law, social work, business, and public health.
- One usually does not need to have an undergraduate degree in sociology to apply to graduate programs. Most accept applicants who have undergraduate degrees in a social science, the humanities, natural science, or mathematics.
- Many universities that offer a PhD do not have a terminal master's degree program. Students earn a master's on the way to earning their doctoral degree.
- PhD candidates must write a dissertation which involves doing independent research.