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Master’s Degree Programs in Sociology Overview

Majors Overview November 19, 2015

This article talks about master’s degree programs in sociology and their education requirements, coursework, career choices, and continuing education choices.

Information on Master’s Degree Programs in Sociology

Students enrolled in master’s degree programs in sociology can seek careers in various fields, ranging from criminal justice and education to public policy and business. Some programs have concentration areas available to allow students to focus on their overall career goals. They may choose from concentration areas such as social psychology, urban studies, or global studies.

Students can complete these programs within two years; both non-thesis and thesis tracks are available through schools. Some schools offer the program in a wholly online format; however, completion of practical work experience such as an internship is a requirement for students enrolled in some online programs.

Master of Arts (M.A.) Programs in Sociology

In these MA programs, students are imparted core training in statistics, classical and contemporary social theory, and sociological research methods. Students learn about the examination of sociological questions in areas such as medicine, education, and law. The scope of the sociology field ensures that many MA programs also incorporate concentrations in specific subareas such as businesses and organizations, social inequality, social movements, social psychology, urban sociology, globalization, and politics.

Program coursework covers other specific topics such as family structure, social stratification, gender, and race. In some programs, students are required to compose a research-based master’s thesis; in others, an alternate non-thesis track may be offered.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree, in addition to relevant undergraduate credits in social sciences such as sociology, among others. Submission of letters of recommendation and meeting of a GPA standard are among other requirements for admission.


Program coursework differs in accordance with the concentration area; however, training in research and quantitative analysis is commonly synthesized with topic areas related to the specific societies’ traits and the issues each one faces. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Education in urban contexts
•Economic sociology
•Community Sociology
•Contemporary social theory
•Classical social theory
•Class structures and strata
•Social movements
•Global cities
•Inequality and the underclass
•Ethnic conflicts

Career Choices

Graduates may seek careers in nonprofit management, business, law enforcement, and education. They may choose from possible job titles such as:

•Probation officer
•Research Associate
•Federal investigator
•Customs agent
•Public relations specialist

Continuing Education Choices

Program graduates who seek continuing education may pursue a graduate program in social work or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program in Sociology that could lead to careers in academia or research. While admission to medical or law school is not dependent on the holding of a master’s degree, admission to MD or JD programs is commonly sought by some graduates. Careers in the people-focused fields of healthcare and criminal justice require knowledge of sociology.

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