What Can I Do With a Master’s Degree in Sociology?

What Can I Do With a Master’s Degree in Sociology?

Sociology is the study of the complex systems that compose human life, including families, communities, and societies. An advanced degree in sociology will provide you with the instruction, experience, and hands-on education required to conduct research and analyze data in an array of real-world settings.

Sociology is a data-driven field where masters learn how to conduct research, study populations, and understand how these populations are impacted by factors like geography, race, economics, and more. Earning a master’s degree in sociology could qualify you for an array of leadership and research roles in social services, public health, education, policy analysis, and much more.

Just getting started in the field? Check out our look at the sociology major to find out how you can get an undergraduate degree in sociology.

If you’re ready to earn your graduate 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 master.

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Why Get a Master’s Degree in Sociology?

There is a strong and compelling reason to earn a master’s degree in sociology. This advanced degree is required in order for one to hold the professional title of sociologist. This is because sociology is a research-driven field where social scientists and data scientists draw connections between real-world human experiences and statistical patterns. An advanced degree in sociology will provide you with the instruction, experience, and hands-on education required to conduct research and analyze data in an array of real-world settings.

Earning a master’s degree in sociology will qualify you to provide data analysis, consultation, and research support in a wide range of government, think tank, non-profit, and private spaces.

Top influencers in the field today are breaking new ground with research in cultural sociology, interpersonal communication, decolonization, and more.

Learn more about these and other top influencers in the sociology field today!

How Can I Qualify To Get a Master’s Degree in Sociology?

There is no specific entrance exam for gaining admission into a sociology master’s program, though some programs may require you to complete a Graduate Record Examination (GRE). If the GRE is needed, your program may either require a general exam, or a GRE specific to the subject of sociology. Some programs may require you to meet a certain scoring threshold while others may merely require that you complete the exam. These requirements will vary from one sociology master’s program to the next.

If no GRE is required, the primary requirement for gaining eligibility into a sociology master’s program is completion of a bachelor’s degree from a properly accredited undergraduate school. While programmatic accreditation is not specifically required in this field, most regionally-accredited graduate schools will require that your bachelor’s degree be granted by a regionally-accredited college or university.

There is one exception for programmatic accreditation. If you plan to parlay your sociology master’s degree into a career as a social worker, you must have earned your undergraduate degree from a program which is accredited by the Council for Social Work Education (CSWE). Absence of this accreditation could impact your long-term goal to become a licensed social worker.

It’s also worth noting that some colleges may offer bundled bachelor’s to master’s degree programs (or Accelerated 4+1 programs), where you could earn your advanced degree in one continuous five-year program. This option could save you time and money if you already know that you’ll be pursuing your advanced degree. However, the accelerated pace of such a program may make this a challenging way to earn both degrees. Find out if your school offers this bundling option and ask about eligibility requirements. But be sure you’re up to the added challenge!

For any additional questions about eligibility, refer to your intended program and learn more about application requirements and any additional requirements such as work experience, academic performance thresholds, and referrals.

If you’re still working on building your qualifications, check out our look at the sociology major to find out how you can get an undergraduate degree in sociology.

What Kinds of Advanced Sociology Degrees Are There?

While both the associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in sociology can provide a strong background in policy, data analysis, and social services, many of the leadership roles and research opportunities in this field are reserved for those with an advanced degree, such as:

  • Master of Sociology (MA or MS): 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. While the Master of Arts (MA) in Sociology will include an emphasis on theory and philosophy, the Master of Sciences (MS) in Sociology will typically include a more research-intensive approach with an emphasis on data collection, computer modeling, and statistical analysis.
  • Doctoral in Sociology (PhD): Sociology is a research-driven field. This terminal degree is a necessary investment if you hope to conduct research for a university, government agency, non-profit foundation, or think tank. The doctoral degree in sociology, which takes between three and five years to complete, will also qualify you to teach the social sciences at the post-secondary level.

What are Some Popular Sociology Specializations?

Sociology touches on a wide range of public and private sectors. Your area of specialization will go a long way toward determining the setting where you’ll apply your skills and knowledge. Some popular sociology specializations include:

  • Public Policy
  • Social Services
  • Gender and Sexuality
  • Class and Stratification
  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • The Politics of Social Change

What Courses Will I Take as a Sociology Master?

Your specialization 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 Research Methods and Public Health Issues. However, you’ll also have the chance to shape your advanced degree program according to your interests and professional goals.

Common Sociology courses include:

  • Critical Race Theory
  • Globalization
  • Inequality and Diversity
  • Social Change
  • Social Psychology
  • Multicultural Issues in Human Behavior
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Medical Sociology
  • Social Theory in Action
  • Advanced Data Analysis for Social Science

Is a Master’s Degree in Sociology Worth It?

Sociology is a data-intensive subject in an increasingly data-driven world. This means there is growing demand for professionals in a wide range of sectors with the knowledge and ability to evaluate and leverage this data. As a result, professionals who have earned their advanced degree in sociology will have access to an array of well-paying roles in the full spectrum of public, private, and non-profit settings. For instance, earning a master’s degree in sociology could qualify you to work for a government agency, think tank, or private firm as a sociologist (Median Pay, 2019-$83,420), sociology teacher (Median Pay, 2019-$75,290) or social scientists (Median Pay, 2019-$79,370).

Career Outlook for Students with Sociology Degree

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Degree Level: Master's

  • Location: The U.S. (Private Schools)
  • Avg. Cost of Degree*: $11,227
  • Avg. Expenses*: $17,716
  • Avg. Starting Salary*: $45,036
  • Avg. Salary after 4 Years*: $47,573
  • Avg. Cost Recoup Time**: 7 years
  • Job Growth: 3.38%
  • Number of Jobs: 1,281,000
  • * denotes ‘annually’
  • ** denotes ‘at 15% of annual salary’

Career Salaries

CareerJob GrowthAvg. Salary
Managers, All Other3.35%$106,040
Sociology Teachers, Postsecondary3.33%$79,290
Social Sciences Teachers, Postsecondary, All Other2.60%$73,512
Social Science Research Assistants4.65%$50,585

Average Career Salaries

Bottom 10%MedianTop 10%

Promising Job Markets

StateCost of LivingAvg. Salary
#2 Rhode Island20% higher than average$123,115
#3 Texas10% higher than average$90,751
#4 Illinois7% higher than average$92,763
#5 Delaware2% higher than average$101,555
#6 Wyoming2% higher than average$95,640

Top Industries

IndustryAvg. Salary
Managers, All Other$106,040
Sociology Teachers, Postsecondary$79,290

What Are The Top Jobs With a Master’s In Sociology Degree?

As noted above, a sociology master’s degree not only improves your earning power, but it qualifies you serve in an array of specialized roles, including these top jobs:

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


Now that you know how to master in sociology, check out:

Check out the full list here and get started on your path to a Sociology degree.

And if you’re still shopping for the right college, be sure to bookmark our Resources on critical issues like Accreditation, Scholarships, Financial Aid, and more!

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