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Why study for a sociology degree?

Have you always been fascinated by human behavior? Are you curious about current social issues like health disparity, domestic violence, the aging population, or drug abuse? If you’re passionate about social justice and want to better understand society and its institutions, a sociology degree might be right for you. As a sociology major, you will engage in the study of people and how society affects them in subtle but meaningful ways.

Sociology vs psychology

Unlike psychology, which examines humans on an individual level, sociology is concerned with how humans behave in groups and in society. Sociologists study everything from culture to social change, and getting a sociology degree will prepare sociology majors for a diverse set of careers - you’ll be in a position to help people and make our society a more just place for all.

What can you do with a sociology degree?

Studying sociology could lead to many exciting careers, including but not limited to:

  • Counselor
  • Law Enforcement Officer
  • Demographer
  • Policy Analyst
  • Social Worker
  • Human Resources Officer
  • Detective
  • Criminologist 
  • Professor
  • Urban Planner

Many sociology majors who pursue bachelor’s degrees in sociology then go on to advanced degrees like master’s of social work, criminology, public administration, or even law and medicine.

people walking on streets of city

What are the prerequisites for studying sociology?

Sociology degrees come in all shapes and sizes, and emphases can vary widely by department. Most bachelor’s programs in sociology typically look for a strong overall academic background, but master’s or Ph.D. programs in sociology will typically have more prerequisites. As sociology is a social science, you will likely need a solid background in statistics and data analysis, especially if you plan on doing research within your program. Most looking to pursue graduate school education in sociology will likely already have a bachelor’s degree in a social science like anthropology, gender studies, economics, political science, or, of course, sociology. Many master’s and Ph.D. programs in sociology are competitive, and you may also have to submit standardized test scores, be interviewed, or submit essays or thesis proposals to gain admission.

What will I learn studying sociology?

The field of sociology is vast, so different sociology degree programs place emphasis on different facets of the field. In fact, as a sociology major, you may even be able to concentrate within the program so the majority of your coursework focuses on your specific field of interest, be in gender, race, or socioeconomic status. Most sociology degrees will prepare you to conduct research at universities.

Some key topics that may be covered include (but are certainly not limited to):

  • Global social change
  • Sociology of health and illness
  • Sociology of the family
  • Housing and homelessness
  • Police and prisons
  • Social statistics
  • Sociology of violence
  • Race and ethnic relations 

In many sociology degree programs, the first year or two of your degree (depending on how long the program is) will focus on building a foundation of sociological theory. The latter half of the sociology degree program typically will provide sociology majors with the time, support, and resources to conduct research and/or focus on their theses.

Or perhaps you're interested in studying in a related field:

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