2021 Best Online Masters in Sociology [Ultimate Guide]

If you are looking to advance your career in the field of sociology, you might consider an online masters in sociology.

Masters in Sociology

Sociology is the study of human social relationships, social institutions, interactions, and cultures.

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Sociology is a very broad and complex field that could involve studying many different topics, such as crime and deviant behavior, religious beliefs and establishments, and differences among cultures.

Online Masters in Sociology Programs

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When earning your online master’s degree in sociology, you may learn more about society and social relationships. As a social science, sociology often involves conducting scientific research and collecting and interpreting data.

An MA in Sociology may help you understand the nature and origins of societal problems, such as racial inequality, poverty, and environmental change. A sociology program may also explore possible ways to change society and to alleviate these kinds of problems.

A degree in sociology might be applied to any career that requires a scientific understanding of how society operates. A common career path for someone with a sociology degree is to become a sociologist who conducts research. Many sociologists work in academia.

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A degree in sociology can sometimes also be applied in the business and corporate world. Knowledge of how to track social trends may be especially useful for business people who work in marketing and advertising.

Knowledge gained from graduate sociology programs can also potentially be applied in a variety of human services occupations and in the field of criminal justice.

Common subjects studied in online sociology graduate programs include environment and society, sociology of education, criminology, sociology of religion, urban sociology, social anthropology, and political sociology.

Sociology Careers & Salaries

Sociology Careers & Salaries

Master of Arts in Sociology graduates may work as sociologists. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most common sectors for sociologists to be employed in are state government, research and development, and educational services.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers $141,490
Human Resources Managers $121,220
Sociologists, Research and Development in the Social Sciences and Humanities $96,620
Sociologists, State Government $92,530
Sociologists, All Sectors $86,110
Postsecondary Sociology Teachers $75,610
Social and Community Service Managers $69,600
Sociologists, Educational Services $65,830
Survey Researchers $59,870
Social and Human Service Assistants $35,960

An MA in Sociology has applications in many different industries. Not everyone who studies sociology at the graduate level goes on to specifically become a sociologist. Some people with this type of degree find applications for their knowledge in careers related to business, management, or community and social service.

Sociology Master’s Curriculum and Courses

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Here are examples of courses you might take while earning a Master of Arts in Sociology.

  • Classical Sociological Theory: This course discusses the origins of social theory and early writings on the topic.
  • Contemporary Sociological Theory: This course studies recent developments in the field of sociology.
  • Environment and Society: In this course, you might study how human society affects the earth, its ecosystem, and climate.
  • Sociology and Education: In this course you could learn about the social dynamics of schools and the education system and how schools both influence and are influenced by the larger society.
  • Criminology: In this course you would study criminal deviant behavior and those who break the law.
  • Sociology of Religion: In this course you would study the social dynamics of religious institutions and how religious belief affects society and human interactions.
  • Urban Sociology: In this course you would study culture and social interactions as they exist in the context of cities.
  • Social Anthropology: In this course, you would study how people in different cultures organize their societies differently.
  • Political Sociology: In this course, you would study social influences on government and political structures.
  • Quantitative Data Analysis: In this course, you would study how to correctly interpret data from other people’s research or your own.

Exact course titles and requirements may vary at different universities.

Admissions Requirements

Masters in Sociology student

Here are some common admissions requirements for sociology masters programs online.

  • Undergraduate degree, preferably in sociology or a related field
  • Letters of recommendation from former instructors or other mentors
  • Personal essay

A growing number of universities are no longer requiring GRE scores for graduate admissions, but some still do. Admissions requirements can vary considerably at different universities, so you may want to check with the specific school you want to apply to.

Accreditation

Masters in Sociology Accreditation

Regional accreditation ensures that a school’s academic programs meet certain standards of quality.

A degree from an accredited university may have more credibility with potential employers and other universities. Before applying to any degree program, you may want to check to make sure the school to which you are applying is accredited.

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You can learn more about accreditation and can even verify a school’s accreditation status by visiting the US Department of Education‘s website.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Masters in Sociology Financial Aid

If you are unsure of how you will pay for your education, there are many financial aid opportunities available for qualifying students. You may be able to qualify for federal aid, state aid, employer programs, or scholarships. Student loans may also be an option.

Financial aid is often available not only for traditional students attending classes on campus but also for graduate students enrolled in online programs. To apply for federal financial aid, you can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

How Long Does It Take to Get a Masters in Sociology?

Masters in Sociology student studying

In a traditional, full-time program, students often take 1 year to 2 years to complete a master’s degree in sociology. In general, part-time students need more time to complete their degrees, possibly taking as long as 4 years to finish.

Online degree programs often offer flexible scheduling. So, exactly how long you need to complete your degree may depend on how you decide to pace yourself and how many courses you are able to take each semester. Determining how to pace yourself through the program may require careful planning.

What Jobs Can You Get with a Masters in Sociology?

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Sociology can have applications in academia, business, and community and social services. What you can do with a sociology degree may depend on how you want to apply that knowledge. Some of the highest-paying jobs that involve sociology are in business.

Knowledge of sociology might be useful for advertising, promotions, and marketing managers. These types of managers often need to be good at tracking and forecasting social trends to help determine the best strategies to sell products.

Human resources managers may also benefit from knowledge of sociology. Human resources managers may use this knowledge while looking for ways to improve company culture and enhance employee performance.

Organizations that advocate on behalf of racial equality or other societal concerns may also hire employees who are knowledgeable about sociology. Other sociology graduates may go on to become researchers or to teach sociology to others.

How Much Does a Sociologist Make?

sociologists masters

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, sociologists earn a median annual salary of $86,110, with most sociologists earning between $52,640 and $143,020.

The majority of sociologists are employed in state government, research and development, or educational services. Those working for the state government are often paid the highest, on average.

Most sociologists possess a masters degree as their highest level of education, but a doctoral degree in sociology may open up career opportunities in postsecondary education.

What Can You Do with a Masters in Sociology?

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Those with an online master’s in sociology might pursue careers as advertising, promotions, and marketing managers, human resources managers, social and community service managers, or survey researchers, to name a few.

The usefulness of sociological knowledge in the business world may be underestimated by those who think of sociology as a strictly academic study. A degree in sociology might also help you with a career in social justice or with a charity or nonprofit.

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Sociology may have applications in any industry in which human interactions need to be observed analytically.

Is a Masters Degree in Sociology Worth It?

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Yes, a master’s degree in sociology is worth it for many students. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting 5% job growth in life, physical, and social science occupations over the next 10 years.

Common careers in this field include state government sociologists, research and development sociologists, postsecondary teachers, survey researchers, and human resources managers.

A master’s degree in sociology may be fairly versatile in terms of career paths. Studying sociology may also enable you to satisfy your curiosity about society and how to study it in a scientific way.

Universities Offering Online Masters in Sociology Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer sociology degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

American Public University

American Public University campus

The Master of Sociology program at American Public University focuses on readying students for the real world. Its practicums explore true-to-life challenges and scenarios.

Classes taken in this program cover subjects such as diversity, equality, globalism, social change, and the intersection of identity and privilege. The entirety of this program can be taken online.

APUS is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University campus

Arizona State University offers an online Master’s in Sociology program that can be completed in 10 classes consisting of 7.5 weeks each. Classes include Social Statistics, Leadership and Social Justice, and Marriage and Family Relationships.

Rather than a thesis, students are expected to spend their final semester completing a capstone project. This program requires 30 credit hours in total to graduate.

Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University campus

Grand Canyon University offers a Master of Science (MS) in Sociology with an emphasis in Education. This degree is designed to prepare students to teach sociology in secondary and postsecondary institutions.

The program requires 34 credits to graduate, and it covers everything from curriculum design to effective pedagogy in higher education. All classes are conducted virtually.

Grand Canyon University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Morehead State University

Morehead State University campus

Delivered entirely online, the Master of Sociology program at Morehead State University combines theory and practice. It is designed to give students a cutting-edge education in contemporary sociological concepts.

In addition to the general sociology degree, specializations are available for Criminology, Chemical Dependency and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences. Students can team up with mentors and faculty advisors for special projects.

Morehead State University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University campus

New Mexico State University offers a Master of Arts (MA) in Sociology. It requires 36 credits and can usually be completed in 2 to 2.5 years. Core classes are centered on things like qualitative research methods.

Elective classes branch out into subjects such as migration, community development, racial studies, and even digital media. Students are allowed to formulate their own study and research directions.

New Mexico State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.

Sam Houston State University

Sam Houston State University campus

With online classes and multiple start dates per year, Sam Houston State University has a very accessible sociology program for grad students. It’s centered on public sociology, but classes cover many additional subjects and themes. The program requires 37 credit hours to graduate.

Sam Houston State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Texas A and M University – Commerce

Texas A & M University - Commerce campus

The online Master of Sociology program at Texas A&M University—Commerce can usually be completed in two years. It emphasizes foundational skills, like researching and critical thinking, as well as subject-specific skills, like race and ethnic diversity.

Classes are available online, and there’s no thesis requirement. The degree offered is a Master of Science (MS) in Sociology.

Texas A&M University-Commerce is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Texas Woman’s University

Texas Womans University campus

Texas Woman’s University allows their students to customize many aspects of their sociology degrees. In addition to choosing between a thesis and non-thesis track, classes can also be taken online, on campus, or both.

Students from all backgrounds are welcome, but the school makes an extra effort to recruit female, minority, and underprivileged students.

Texas Woman’s University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Alabama – Birmingham

University of Alabama Birmingham campus

The University of Alabama at Birmingham doesn’t require a thesis for its MA in Sociology program. Instead, it requires students to take nine courses and complete a six-hour, faculty-directed capstone project during their final semester. Classes are completely digital, but some face-to-face, online interaction is required.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Virginia Commonwealth University

Virginia Commonwealth University campus

The Master of Sociology program at Virginia Commonwealth University has a built-in concentration in digital sociology. This is to prepare students for the challenges of the contemporary workforce.

Classes in this program explore the various ways that tools, methods, standards, and practices have evolved over time. The program requires 36 credits to graduate.

VCU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Getting Your Masters in Sociology Online

Masters in Sociology Online

A masters in sociology may be a valuable degree in some business or human services occupations. It may also help you become a researcher in the field of sociology. Sociologists may contribute to our understanding of our own society, culture, and relationships.

There are many options for obtaining a master’s degree in sociology. Online degree programs often offer the most flexible scheduling options, and they may allow you the convenience of learning from practically any location. After you complete your online masters degree, you may want to explore an accredited online PhD in Sociology.

If you’re ready to take the next step with your academic and career goals, you can start today by exploring online sociology graduate programs from accredited universities.

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Amy Wilson
WRITTEN BY
Amy Wilson
While attending the University of Georgia, Amy enrolled in both on-campus and online courses giving her the opportunity to explore the pros and cons of each course delivery system. Amy's research is focused on making education more accessible to everyone and how different education methodologies can affect student outcomes.