Sociology begins as a broad study of human social lives and interrelations. More advanced sociologists explore the particulars of behaviors that may be driven by religious, economic, cultural, political or business agendas. Each of the factors that impacts societal behavior is examined to determine historical contexts, policies, processes, and organizations that contribute to human behavior.
A degree in sociology has a wide range of applicability in the workplace because so many industries can benefit from a grasp of what motivates its workforce. Graduates of an advanced degree program in sociology often specialize in a particular subfield, such as education, poverty, gender, criminology or population studies.
Why a Master’s Degree in Sociology?
The career potential for online master’s in sociology holders is vast, since any industry or organization that works with people can benefit from a hiring a professional sociologist. Graduates of this program are qualified to engage, assess and intervene where necessary in military populations, human resources, the elderly, and groups of people who experience discrimination.
Learned skills are applied in clinical practice internships during this program, giving graduates real-world experience in the relationship between society, culture, and human rights. An understanding of behavior patterns, degrees of inequality, and the forces that shape social change will mold these students into skilled professionals who are prepared for clinical counseling. Master’s degree graduates are also eligible for state licensure for private practice.
Getting into a Sociology Master’s Degree Program
Online master’s degree programs in sociology are relatively standard in their admissions requirements. Generally, applicants should possess the following:
- A bachelor’s degree from an accredited liberal arts degree program. Some programs request a bachelor’s in sociology, while others are more lenient as long as certain prerequisite classes have been taken.
- GPA of at least 2.5, often 3.0
- Complete transcripts of any undergraduate and graduate work to date
- Autobiographical statement/essay
- Three letters of recommendation from professional or academic sources
- Resume or curriculum vitae
Once these materials are received, candidates for a master’s degree are sometimes requested to appear on-site for an interview.
Inside a Sociology Master’s Degree Program
Two options exist for candidates of a master’s degree in sociology. A traditional program focuses on methodology and research, preparing students for a Ph.D. program and eventual career in academia. Students who wish to enter the workforce directly after completing a master’s program may choose a clinical, professional, or applied sociology program.
Both academic tracks focus on social theory, research methodologies, and the fundamentals of societal principles. Graduates must fine-tune their critical thinking, writing and presentation, and data analysis skills. Course work may include classes such as:
- Principles of Human Rights
- Human Behavior and Society
- Social and Economic Policy
- Diversity in Practice
- The Ethics of Professional Practice
- Assessment and Engagement
- Intervention Strategy
- Case Management and Design
In addition to course work, all master’s degree candidates are expected to complete an on-site internship program. Depending on the educational institution, students may be able to take part in a locally based internship as long as it is approved by the advising committee. While accelerated programs are available, most students complete this degree in two to three years.
What’s Next for Sociology Master’s Degree Holders?
Master’s degree in sociology careers are ubiquitous. An advanced degree in applied sociology provides a solid understanding of human nature that is beneficial to lawyers via the study of the criminal justice system, or to public policy professionals who can better drive initiatives and manage government agencies. The business sector also hires sociologists as consultants, resource analysts, and human resources staff. Knowledge of a patient’s subjective experience will improve the graduate’s chances of securing a job in the medical industry.
Graduates of a traditional master’s program in sociology may choose to continue their educational paths with a doctoral degree in sociology. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that while most professionals who hold a Ph.D. in Sociology are professors or teachers, there is a growing need for highly educated sociologists in the not-for-profit, business, and government sectors.