How to Major in Sociology

Sociology majors study the complex and interrelated systems that shape human life. The sociology degree centers on how systems like families, groups, and communities intersect. Sociology also concerns the way human beings relate to one another over matters of religion, culture, race, gender, and more.

How to Major in Sociology

Sociology students will learn how to conduct research, study populations, and understand how these populations are impacted by factors like geography, race, economics, and more. Earning a degree in sociology could qualify you to work in social services, public health, law enforcement, and much more.

If you’re ready to earn your degree at one of the most prestigious schools in the world, get started with a look at the Most Influential Schools in Sociology.

Or read on to find out what you can expect as a sociology major.

5 Reasons to Major in Sociology

1.Sociology majors get to work with people.

Sociology is the study of humans and society. This means that your degree program will require you to study population groups, a process which may include surveys, interviews, case studies, and a host of other research methods that bring you into direct interaction with your research subjects. As a sociologist, you’ll gain a better understanding of human behavior both on the individual and collective levels.

2.Sociology majors get an interdisciplinary education.

Sociology is one of the more versatile and respected social sciences degrees. That’s because this major is inherently interdisciplinary in nature, bringing together subject areas like economics, political science, and statistical analysis. Each of these disciplines informs the way we understand complex and interwoven social systems like religious organizations, national governments, and varying ethnic groups.

3.Sociology majors get a chance to make the world a better place.

A major component of sociology is recognizing the connection between cause and effect—for instance observing how systemic racism can produce economic disadvantage; how gendered norms result in sustained unequal pay for women; or how religious affiliation might inform political identity. Understanding these effects can qualify you to lead outreach, education, intervention, policy engagement, and other efforts aimed at addressing causes, and improving outcomes.

4.Sociology majors have a wide variety of job prospects.

Your knowledge as a sociology major can qualify you to work in a wide array of settings, from research foundations and think tanks to educational groups and government agencies. But you’ll also learn excellent communication skills, the scientific research process, and problem-solving skills. These traits are in high-demand in any workplace setting, and can qualify you to work in a wide range of professional contexts.

5.Sociology majors are influential.

Sociology concerns broad and overlapping systems. Researchers, educators, community leaders and outreach groups impact the lives of countless people, families, and communities through meaningful findings and actions. Today, top influencers in sociology are bringing illumination to subjects like the intersection of humans and technology, feminist and gender theory, social networking, urban sociology, and much more.

Find out who the Most Influential People are in Sociology today!

What Kinds of Sociology Degrees Are There?

There are numerous professional opportunities available to students who earn an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in sociology. However, because many sociology careers are driven by research, the master’s degree and doctoral are also uniquely popular in this particular field.

  • Associate in Sociology: This two-year degree program will provide introductory education on subjects such as socioeconomic stratification, racial inequality, and global economics. Students who earn an associate’s degree in sociology qualify to work in areas such as corrections, community outreach, and crisis intervention.
  • Bachelor of Sociology: The bachelor’s degree in sociology may be earned in four years, and provides a comprehensive education in demographic studies, research methodology, urban studies, and more. Your undergraduate degree in sociology will qualify you for a wide range of opportunities in the field, including human resources specialist, guidance counselor, market research analyst, and more.
  • Master of Sociology: Students interested in leadership roles in human services, community organization, or public health agencies can improve their career prospects by earning a master’s degree in sociology. Typically a two-year degree program, the master’s will provide you with the opportunity to dive into a specific concentration while engaging in some level of real-world field research.
  • Doctoral in Sociology: Sociology is a research-driven field, which makes this terminal degree a worthwhile investment if you hope to conduct research for a university, government agency, non-profit foundation, or think tank. The degree, which takes between three and five years to complete, will also quality you to teach the social sciences at the post-secondary level.

*Note: Many, but not all, degree programs offer the choice between Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. Likewise, many, but not all, advanced degree programs offer a choice between Master of Arts, and Master of Science degrees. In most cases, the primary difference is the diversity of course offerings. “Science” degree courses will focus almost entirely on the major discipline, with a deep dive into a specific concentration, including laboratory, clinical or practicum experience. An “Arts” degree will provide a more well-rounded curriculum which includes both core/concentration courses and a selection of humanities and electives. The type of degree you choose will depend both on your school’s offerings and your career/educational goals. Moreover, there are sometimes numerous variations in the way that colleges name and categorize majors. The degree types identified here above are some of the common naming variations, but may not be all-encompassing.

What are some popular Sociology concentrations?

Your “concentration” refers to a specific area of focus within your major. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) provides a complete listing of college degree programs and concentrations (Classification for Instructional Programs), as sourced from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). According to IPEDS, which lists sociology under the social sciences umbrella, the following are among the most popular sociology concentrations:

  • Social Sciences, General
  • Research Methodology and Quantitative Methods
  • Archeology
  • Criminology
  • Political Science and Government
  • Demography and Population Studies
  • Urban Studies/Affairs
  • Sociology and Anthropology
  • Rural Sociology

What Courses Will I Take as a Sociology Major?

Your concentration will determine many of the courses you’ll take as a sociology major. Likewise, you will be required to take a number of requisite courses on foundational topics such as American Social Structures and Sociology in Healthcare. However, you will also have the chance to select courses centered around specific issue areas such as race, women’s issues, economic inequality, and more.

Common Sociology courses include:

  • Sociolinguistics
  • Criminal Behavior and Social Control
  • Sociology of Race and Ethnicity
  • The Practice of Social Research
  • Ethnographic Research
  • Comparative and Historical Methods
  • Epidemiological Methods
  • Analysis of Sociological Data
  • Language, Culture, and Education
  • Sociology of Gender

What can I do with a Major in Sociology?

Majoring in sociology can qualify you for a wide range of professional opportunities. Your communication, research, and problem-solving skills will be of value in an array of educational, administrative, and business settings. If you plan to channel your education into a sociology-specific career, consider these top jobs:

Curious how far you could go with a major in sociology? Start with a look at the top influencers in the field today!

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Now that you know how to major in sociology, check out The Most Influential Schools in Sociologyand get started on your path to a sociology degree.

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