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A master’s degree in sociology provides students with an advanced understanding of social behaviors and societies, which prepares them for employment or further studies. Students graduate with the research, analytical, and social science skills that equip them for roles in industries including counseling, education, human resources, and community development. Graduates often work as sociologists, human resources managers, mental health counselors, and community service managers.

The median annual salary for sociologists is $98,590. However, wages vary depending on the position, location, and industry. Those in scientific research and development studies have an annual median wage of $99,600, while those in educational services have a median salary of $72,120.

Most master’s programs in sociology require two years of full-time study, with 30 to 36 credits needed to graduate. Some schools offer accelerated programs in which students can complete their bachelor’s and master’s degrees simultaneously in a shortened duration of five years. The average annual cost for a master’s degree is $19,749 but will increase if students require on-campus housing.

How to Choose a Master’s in Sociology Program

Choose your area of study

Consider your professional goals and interests when selecting a program. Colleges or universities offer most master’s in sociology degrees as either a Master of Arts or a Master of Science. A Master of Arts degree focuses on humanities and theoretical thinking, whereas a Master of Science focuses on scientific and analytical skills.

If you’re planning to continue your studies and apply for a doctorate, look for a master’s in sociology program that includes a thesis track. These programs prepare students for a doctorate program or to join a research center. They require them to complete a thesis, including a detailed investigation and research project.

Many programs allow students to choose a specialization during their degree. The most common focus areas include social theory, urban sociology, medical sociology, social stratification, and criminology.

Research schools and programs

When researching schools and programs, look for those accredited by a reputable organization. Accreditation is provided at a national and regional level to institutions that meet a set quality standard and can assist with transferring classes, getting hired, and receiving financial assistance.

The Commission on the Accreditation of Programs in Applied and Clinical Sociology (CAPACS) accredits many master’s in sociology degree programs. This accreditation ensures the quality of the program curriculum and that it adequately prepares students for their future careers.

To learn more about potential schools, you can:

  • Visit the campus in person
  • Browse the school and program website
  • Attend open houses
  • Follow the school on social media

You can also speak with an admissions counselor or program representative to learn more about the degree and school culture.

Prepare for tests and applications

To apply for a master’s in sociology program, you must submit your undergraduate transcripts. Most schools prefer students to have at least a 3.0 GPA and a bachelor’s degree in sociology, but they will consider applicants from all programs. You will likely need to include a personal essay, letters of recommendation, and a letter of intent along with your transcripts.

Speak with an admissions counselor before applying to ensure you have all the required materials and meet the admission requirements. Also, watch the admissions deadline to ensure your application is complete before the cut-off.

Select your program

If accepted to multiple schools, review your options and consider your academic and logistical needs. Consider if the program is online or in-person, full-time or part-time, or synchronous or asynchronous. Assess the cost, length, location, and housing options.

If you need help deciding, speak with an academic advisor. They’ll discuss your options and help guide you toward the right choice for your needs.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Consider your financial situation to determine how you’ll pay for your degree. Create a budget to establish if you can pay for it alone or require financial assistance. Include tuition, fees, supplies, housing, transportation, and living expenses.

Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to discover the amount of financial aid you can receive, including government loans, scholarships, grants, and work-study funds. Some employers also offer tuition assistance to students completing courses related to their current field.

Best 50 Accredited Master’s in Sociology Degree Programs

Best Master's in Sociology Degree Programs_2024 badge

Stanford University

University of California, Los Angeles

Columbia University

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

University of Pennsylvania

The University of Texas at Austin

New York University

Indiana University - Bloomington

University of California, Irvine

University of Washington

University of Maryland

Penn State University

University of Minnesota Twin Cities

Vanderbilt University

University of Arizona

North Dakota State University

Virginia Tech

Boston College

Brigham Young University

Middle Tennessee State University

Prairie View A&M University

Florida Atlantic University

University of South Florida

University of Massachusetts Amherst

Minnesota State University, Mankato

University of Mississippi

Idaho State Universit

Morgan State University

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

University of Cincinnati

Illinois State University

Discover More Options

How we rank schools

We looked at many master’s in sociology degrees, including both Master of Science (MS) and Master of Arts (MA) degrees. Our list covers traditional, online, and hybrid options, although online programs might have a brief in-person component.

All of the listed programs are regionally accredited, and many also have national accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Accreditation helps ensure the quality of a degree program.

We evaluated each program based on flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out our ranking methodology.

What Can You Expect From a Master’s in Sociology Program

A master’s degree in sociology equips students to understand the history, organizational structure, and effect of social, cultural, religious, and political groups. Students graduate with the research, analytical, and social science skills required for leadership or senior positions in sociology. Common focus areas include the environment, family studies, gender and sexuality, healthcare, race and ethnicity, and globalization.

Master’s programs in sociology expand upon the groundwork knowledge of an undergraduate degree to delve deeper into theories and interpretations of existing research. Students use various learning methods, including coursework, exams, lectures, and research papers. Those in a thesis-track program will conclude the course with a completed thesis and research project.

Potential courses you’ll take in a master’s in sociology program

  • Environmental Sociology. This course focuses on the relationship between humans and their natural environments, including the causes and consequences of environmental problems. Students will study the role of economic and political structures, population dynamics, cultures, and technology in environmental issues.
  • Race, Class, and Gender. Students will discuss how society interprets gender, race, and class. The course analyzes the origins, biases, and realities of these societal inequalities.
  • Health and Society. This course will discuss how particular social arrangements affect disease distribution, disease prevention practices, and health promotion.
  • Economy and Society. Students will examine the structure and operation of institutions in which the economy and society interact, including education, labor markets, professional associations, and industrial organizations.
  • Citizenship and Rights. Students examine the relationship between citizenship and rights. Topics include the structural and discursive conditions of citizenship, the rights of women and minorities, and the struggles for recognition and equality.

Master’s in Sociology Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to a master's in sociology degree program?

To apply for a master’s in sociology program, review the program’s website to determine the application requirements and deadline. You will likely be required to submit your undergraduate transcripts, letters of recommendation, essay, and a letter of intent. Speak with an admissions advisor to learn more about the application process and ensure you have all the required materials.

How much does a master's in sociology degree cost?

The average annual tuition and fees for a master’s in sociology degree is $19,749 but will vary depending on the school and program. Students should consider additional costs, including supplies, housing, transportation, and living expenses. Part-time or online students may have lower annual expenses.

How long does it take to earn a master's in sociology degree?

A master’s degree in sociology takes, on average, two years of full-time study with the completion of 30 to 36 credits required to graduate. Some schools offer online, part-time, or asynchronous enrollment, which allows students to complete the program at their own pace. Accelerated programs are also available, where students can complete their undergraduate and graduate degrees within five years.

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