Bachelor’s in Sociology Program Guide

September 15, 2020

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Sociologists study all aspects of social life, from small groups to large-scale institutions. The discipline emphasizes the impact of race, ethnicity, gender, age, and social class on privilege and social relations. Students in this major learn about socialization across the life cycle, crime and deviance, social conflict, social inequality, and globalization.

The BLS projects an 11% increase in employment for social scientists and related workers between 2016 and 2026.

As the U.S. grows more diverse, the skills acquired in a sociology degree are increasingly valuable. The study of sociology is a springboard to exciting careers in research, policy analysis, human services, and other positions requiring a strong social science foundation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an 11% increase in employment for social scientists and related workers between 2016 and 2026. Scientific research, government, higher education, advocacy, and counseling offer the highest paying prospects for sociology graduates, with career opportunities and salary potential increasing with advanced training and experience.

Should I Get a Bachelor's in Sociology?

Students drawn to sociology realize the importance of understanding complex social phenomena and using that insight to address social problems like racism, sexism, poverty, immigration, environmental crises, and global conflict. In addition to providing a theoretical and factual foundation for the study of social issues, a sociology degree teaches the statistical and research skills required to address and alleviate these problems. The best sociology programs stress research methodology and applied knowledge. These programs also teach students how to evaluate and conduct comparative and historical analyses; how to apply statistical and quantitative techniques to data collection; and how to perform qualitative research using methods such as interviews, participant observation, and content analysis.

Many schools offer undergraduate sociology degrees in online and on-campus formats. An online bachelor's degree is an appealing option for working professionals interested in exploring new career opportunities or those whose personal responsibilities keep them from attending a campus-based program.

Students in traditional on-campus programs benefit from the interaction with other students in their cohort, collaborating on group assignments or applied sociological projects in local communities. As graduation nears, they benefit from their school's career placement services and opportunities for internships and independent research experiences. A degree from one of the top sociology programs offers a competitive edge for those applying to graduate or professional schools, as well as for those moving directly into the workforce.

What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Sociology?

Sociology is among the most versatile social science majors. An undergraduate sociology degree opens doors to many interesting careers, especially for graduates with statistical and research skills. Those who earn advanced degrees find even more opportunities for career advancement. Because sociologists design research projects, collect data, and write and present their findings, they must acquire strong critical thinking and communication skills. The emphasis on diverse populations, contentious social problems, and groups in conflict requires sociologists to develop empathy and understanding. While many sociologists find employment as researchers or policy analysts, they also work in secondary or postsecondary education, social work, human resources, and legal fields.


Sociologists design and conduct research projects that examine groups, cultures, institutions, and organizations. They use statistical techniques and qualitative and quantitative methods to study social issues, including race, gender, social inequality, poverty, and crime. Most positions require a master's or a Ph.D. in sociology. Advanced graduate work in sociology requires a bachelor's degree in the field.

Median Annual Salary: $79,650*

Market Research Analyst

Many companies hire market research analysts to examine potential sales and demand for products and services. They collect and analyze data on consumer trends, competitors, and market conditions. Most positions require an undergraduate degree. Employers often hire sociology graduates with training in statistics and research methods.

Median Annual Salary: $63,230*

Survey Researcher

Governments, nonprofits, and industries depend on information gathered through research. Survey researchers help these organizations collect and analyze data, apply statistical software, and evaluate findings. Although employment as a survey researcher often requires graduate training, a bachelor's degree in sociology can lead to entry-level positions, especially for those trained in research methodology and statistics.

Median Annual Salary: $54,270*

Social Worker

Social workers assist individuals and communities in coping with a variety of problems. They often work in schools, healthcare clinics, and mental health facilities. Although employment as a clinical social worker requires a master's degree and supervised experience, a bachelor's in sociology or a related field can lead to entry-level positions as case workers or non-clinical assistants.

Median Annual Salary: $47,980*

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Best States for Sociologists

Sociology examines the impact of race, ethnicity, gender, age, and social class as it relates to social identity and the nature of relationships, from small groups to large-scale organizations. The field uses a variety of theoretical perspectives, statistical tools, and research methods to address and alleviate contentious social issues.

As the U.S. grows more diverse and globally connected, the demand for professionals with sociological training has increased. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an 11% increase between 2016-2026 in employment for social scientists, including sociology researchers, consultants, educators, and counselors. This guide helps job seekers evaluate which states offer the best opportunities for career advancement in this dynamic field.


This ranking considers several indicators that shape opportunities for two common sociology-related occupations: sociologists, who conduct research in a variety of settings, and postsecondary sociology educators engaged in teaching and research at colleges and universities. The methodology weighs mean salaries, overall affordability, and demographic factors that impact the demand for these positions. States experiencing population growth offer expanding employment opportunities in research and educational organizations. Regions with higher levels of racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity require professionals with competency in these areas.

California View School Profile ,

California offers some of the highest annual salaries for sociologists and postsecondary sociology teachers in the country. Postsecondary sociology teachers earn a mean salary of $105,320, the second highest of all 50 states. The annual mean salary for sociologists in California is $95,550, the third highest in the country. Recent efforts to boost the state's college degree completion rate have expanded opportunities for sociology faculty at community colleges and four-year undergraduate programs.

Job seekers with sociology training can expect to find employment opportunities working with California's diverse population. The state has one of the highest levels of racial and ethnic diversity, especially as its Hispanic population grows, requiring teachers, researchers, and policy makers with cultural competency. Although California has significantly higher cost of living and housing affordability rates than the rest of the country, its expanding employment opportunities, high salaries, and attractive mix of geography and climate contribute to its appeal.

Rhode Island View School Profile ,

This small but densely populated state has 12 institutions of higher education, including Brown University, one of the nation's eight Ivy League schools. The state boasts the highest mean annual salary in the U.S. for postsecondary sociology teachers at $128,430. Most of the employment opportunities center around Providence, which ranks as one of the top-paying metropolitan areas in the country for sociology teachers.

The state has much to offer job seekers in sociology, but the cost of living is somewhat higher than most other states. Taxes, energy, and food costs are higher than average, although the housing costs and healthcare expenses are in line with the national average. Rhode Island offers exceptional quality of life with its freely accessible coastline, statewide initiatives to utilize green energy, and long tradition of racial and religious tolerance.

New Jersey View School Profile ,

Despite its relatively high cost of living, the earning potential and employment prospects make New Jersey a solid fit for sociology professionals. New Jersey has become one of the wealthier states in the U.S., with a median household income of $76,136. The annual mean salary for sociology educators of $97,150 and $90,870 for sociology researchers is well above the state average, and ranks among the highest for those occupations nationally. Its 67 higher education institutions, including Princeton University, offer faculty and administrative positions appropriate for job seekers trained in sociology. The unemployment rate for the educational sector remains below the national average.

With its close proximity to New York City, Philadelphia, and the New England states, many residents commute to jobs outside of New Jersey. As the state's Hispanic, African-American, and Asian populations continue to grow, sociologists interested in working with culturally diverse groups can find positions in education, research, policy analysis, and social services.

New Hampshire View School Profile ,

New Hampshire's median annual household income is among the highest in the country at $70,936. The absence of a state income tax and unemployment rates under 3% make the state an attractive option for job seekers. New Hampshire is home to the prestigious Dartmouth College, as well as an affordable and accessible community college system. About 43% of its population holds college degrees. Sociology teachers working in the state receive an annual mean wage of $92,480.

Because of the state's small size and location, many residents commute to jobs in Boston, Massachusetts, or in Maine. New Hampshire remains one of the least racially diverse states in the U.S., with a 94% white population. Employers and government officials have begun efforts to diversity the workforce, creating opportunities for sociologists to provide training and guidance on diversity and inclusion.

Illinois View School Profile ,

Illinois offers a plethora of opportunities for teachers, researchers, and administrators in its 181 higher education institutions. While the state of Illinois has grappled with fiscal instability in recent years, it continues to support its strong public universities and community college system. Postsecondary sociology teachers earn a mean annual salary of $91,790.

In addition to education, the state's other major employers include business, energy, and technology, offering a variety of career opportunities for sociologists with research and statistical training. Illinois ranks in the midrange for overall cost of living, as there are higher prices for services and housing in and around the city of Chicago.

Massachusetts View School Profile ,

Massachusetts has much to offer sociologists with its world-class research universities and prestigious liberal arts schools. Technology and educational sectors lead economic growth in the state, creating well-paying opportunities for postsecondary sociology educators and researchers. The highest mean salary for postsecondary sociology teachers in Massachusetts was $96,960 in the Boston-Cambridge area, and Massachusetts ranks as the top-paying state for research sociologists, with an annual average salary of $110,170.

While the state offers many career possibilities for sociologists in higher education and research, as well as a median household income above the national average, Massachusetts has a much higher cost of living than the rest of the country. Boston's cost of living ranks as the highest in the state primarily because housing costs significantly more than other cities in the U.S. However, as the Northeast's fastest growing economy, Massachusetts expects to grow its population to over seven million by 2035, expanding employment opportunities and salary prospects.

North Carolina View School Profile ,

With a population of 10 million, North Carolina has experienced its greatest growth in recent years around the state capital of Charlotte and the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area. Higher education has impacted the state's economy, boosting the growth of its white-collar workforce. Approximately 40% of the state population has earned a college degree. Sociology researchers and educators can expect career opportunities and healthy salary prospects. Postsecondary sociology teachers earn an annual mean salary of $75,320 and occupy the fifth-highest employment level for this occupation in the U.S. The Durham-Chapel Hill area has become the top paying metropolitan area for sociology teachers, offering an annual mean salary of $133,670. With an annual mean salary of $91,400, sociology researchers hold the third-highest employment level for this occupation.

New York View School Profile ,

New York, which houses the nation's third-largest economy, has a population of 19.8 million, with more than 8.5 million living in New York City. Employment opportunities and salary levels continue to increase, and the median household income of $62,909 has risen slightly higher than the national average. Although the cost of living in New York City ranks among the highest in the country, upstate New York remains affordable. The state's population has become increasingly diverse, with Hispanics making up 19% of the population, African-Americans at 14%, and Asians at 8%.

New York supports one of the strongest systems of state universities and community colleges in the U.S., and hosts many prestigious private institutions, including Cornell University and Columbia University. There is an emphasis placed on access to education reflected in the 44% of the residents who hold college degrees. New York also has the highest employment level for postsecondary sociology educators in the country, with teachers earning an average mean salary of $88,110.

Texas View School Profile ,

The second-largest state in the nation in population and size, Texas offers diverse climates, geography, and lifestyles. Ranked as one of the most racially and ethnically diverse states, Texas hosts the largest concentration of Hispanics in the nation. The state attracts job seekers in sociology through its reasonably high salaries, no personal income tax, and relatively low cost of living compared to the rest of the U.S. Because it offers low taxes and few regulations, Texas has attracted a broad industrial base and with an expanding demand for skilled workers and managers. The urban centers of Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, and San Antonio offer the most employment opportunities.

Education counts among the major employers in the state, including the large state universities of Texas A&M, University of Texas-Austin, and University of Houston. Texas has one of the highest levels of employment for postsecondary sociology educators. Earning a mean annual salary of $81,710, these educators find the most career opportunities in the Houston area.

Pennsylvania View School Profile ,

Pennsylvania's diversified economy has emerged as one of the major contributors to the U.S. gross domestic product. While parts of the state continue to experience a higher than average unemployment rate, the median household income remains slightly above the national average. The cost of living ranks higher than average in Philadelphia and other urban areas, but other regions of the state offer more affordable housing and consumer prices.

In recent years, the state has established initiatives to expand accessibility and support to its 450 colleges, universities, and trade schools. Consequently, the state has become a more attractive location for educators, researchers, and administrators with sociology training. Pennsylvania's postsecondary sociology teachers earn an annual mean wage of $79,410, and sociologists engaged in research earn an annual mean wage of $103,280, making Pennsylvania one of the top-paying states for this occupation.

Iowa View School Profile ,

The small Midwestern state of Iowa has a population of only 3 million, and is 91% white. Although population growth has been relatively slower than other areas of the U.S., the state has increased its population of African-American, Hispanic, and Asian residents and welcomed a growing immigrant community. Iowans from all backgrounds take advantage of higher education at the state's 60 colleges and universities. Two-thirds of Iowa's high school graduates continue on to college, and 40% have earned college degrees.

Job seekers with sociology training find most opportunities in urban centers, especially Des Moines, Davenport, and Cedar Rapids, the only cities in Iowa with populations over 100,000. Postsecondary sociology educators can expect an annual mean salary of $87,230. Iowa ranks as one of the most affordable places to live and work.

Indiana View School Profile ,

Alongside its median household income, which ranks slightly below the national average, Indiana has a low cost of living, reasonable housing prices, and a lower tax rate than most of the country. Indiana continues to experience a lower than average unemployment rate and increasing job growth, especially in postsecondary educational fields.

Several factors drive career opportunities for postsecondary sociology educators. While Indiana offers degrees at 86 colleges and universities, only 34% of Indiana's population has completed college. The state has recently begun to address the need for a college educated workforce and develop ways to improve its degree completion rate. Indiana will become increasingly diverse in the coming years as the Hispanic, African-American, and Asian populations grow, changing the state's demographic profile. Consequently, postsecondary sociology teachers, as well as postsecondary administrators with sociological and cultural competency training, can expect significant job growth in Indiana through 2026.

Florida View School Profile ,

Florida offers job seekers in sociology high salaries and a relatively low cost of living. The state has one of the lowest tax rates and highest job growth rates in the country. The state's 20 million resident population is projected to grow to 26 million by 2040, ranking Florida as the third-most populated state in the nation, with Hispanics making up almost 25% of that population. With this diverse and expanding workforce and a lower than average unemployment rate, Florida boasts a healthy economy with expanding possibilities in the fields of education and training.

Florida has created a strong environment for sociologists seeking careers in higher education and research. Research-oriented sociologists can find many opportunities in the state's 12 universities and 28 community colleges that generate more than $500 million per year in sponsored research. Postsecondary sociology teachers earn a mean annual salary of $92,560.

Ohio View School Profile ,

U.S. News & World Report's Best Places to Live lists Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo, Youngstown, and Cleveland among its best places to live. Education is one of the state's leading economic sectors and provides teaching and research opportunities for job seekers trained in sociology. Ohio houses 130 colleges and universities and recently introduced initiatives for four-year institutions to build skill levels for college graduates entering the workforce. Postsecondary sociology teachers earn a mean annual salary of $96,730, and research sociologists earn a mean annual salary of $62,800. Sociology researchers and teachers can expect to find the most career options in the Columbus metropolitan area.

Missouri View School Profile ,

Sociologists looking for an affordable lifestyle and fulfilling careers should consider Missouri. Missouri has the eighth-lowest property tax rate and fourth-lowest cost of living in the U.S. Joplin holds the lead as the most affordable city in the state, and Kansas as the most expensive. The state's 6 million residents benefit from its superior transportation system, infrastructure, and diversified economy. Sociologists possess the research and applied skills needed by many of Missouri's fastest-growing employers, which include technology industries, professional services, and social assistance.

A center for higher education and research, Missouri's state system supports 13 public universities, 14 public two-year colleges, one public technical college, 26 private colleges and universities, and more than 150 private career-oriented and for-profit schools. Postsecondary sociology teachers, with a mean annual salary of $90,800, earn well above the state average for most occupations.

Maryland View School Profile ,

Maryland's economic growth has outpaced the national rate, expanding employment in professional services, technology, and education. The state has 60 federal agencies and over 50 higher education institutions, offering potential career opportunities for sociology researchers and educators. Postsecondary sociology teachers in faculty positions can expect a mean annual salary of $84,760. Maryland's racial and cultural diversity also attracts sociologists seeking positions in government, as well as social and community services.

The state's median household income outpaces the national median income, and job growth has risen to sixth in the nation. While sociologists can expect a favorable career and salary outlook, they should also recognize that Maryland has an exceptionally high cost of living. As one of the most expensive states in the country, its house, rental, and transportation costs rank well above the national average.

Michigan View School Profile ,

As Michigan's economy rebounds following several years of decline, job prospects for sociology professionals have brightened. The auto industry is recovering from steep overseas competition and remains among Michigan's top employers, but in recent years, has been overshadowed by the growth in government and education. Government agencies provide employment opportunities for sociology researchers with training in statistics and policy analysis.

Michigan has over 100 colleges and universities, including some of the nation's top schools. The state has sponsored recent initiatives to boost postsecondary education and increase the number of college-educated workers. Although Michigan's annual household income falls below the national average, the $78,230 annual mean wage for postsecondary sociology teachers ranks high relative to other occupations. The cities of Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, and Detroit offer the highest concentration of jobs in the state.

Arizona View School Profile ,

Arizona has a population of 6.9 million, with a projected population growth among the highest in the country. The state also has the sixth-highest percentage of Native Americans and the sixth-largest Hispanic population in the U.S. Arizona's expanding economy offers career opportunities and higher salaries for sociologists in educational and research fields. The cost of living remains relatively low across the state, but higher than average in Phoenix, the state capital and largest city.

Those with a college education comprise 37% of the population, which is slightly lower than the national average. Sociology teachers in Arizona can expect an annual mean salary of $93,070, but this number rises in the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale area, where the annual mean wage is $103,810.

Georgia View School Profile ,

Georgia offers sociologists challenging career prospects and relatively high salaries. Residents of the state earn an average personal income that is higher than in most other southern states. The annual mean salary for postsecondary sociology teachers is $84,390, and the Atlanta metropolitan area provides the most employment opportunities for both sociology teachers and researchers.

As the state grows more diverse, state leaders must address racial and ethnic disparities in postsecondary education. The number of jobs in the state requiring a college degree already exceeds the supply of college graduates. Sociology researchers and postsecondary educators have a role to play in statewide efforts to build a diverse and college-educated workforce.

Utah View School Profile ,

Utah's natural beauty and affordable quality of life attract growing numbers of sociologists. The state boasts a median household income much higher than the rest of the U.S. Salt Lake City, the largest urban area in the state, ranked 15th on U.S. News & World Report's Best Places to Live. Sociologists made an annual mean wage of $67,910, and postsecondary sociology teachers made around $86,380 in 2017.

Utah has one of the youngest populations in the country -- one-third of its residents are under the age of 18. Hispanics, African-Americans and Native Americans comprise the youngest population groups in the state. These demographic shifts impact education and employment. Job growth that is much faster than average drives enrollment at Utah's 24 public and private colleges and universities. State leaders have begun to address ways to increase participation of college degree holders in the workforce. These trends create a favorable employment environment for postsecondary sociology educators. The state's rapidly expanding technology industries also generate career options for research-oriented sociologists.

Hawaii View School Profile ,

Postsecondary sociology educators can find employment in the state's 20 public and private universities and in the expanding social assistance, professional management, and public administration sectors. These sociology educators earn relatively high salaries, averaging $90,120 annually.

Hawaii's median household income ranks well above the national average, and unemployment remains the lowest in the U.S. The state offers its residents exceptional healthcare quality and the nation's lowest mortality rate. However, Hawaii is the least affordable state in the U.S. Utilities, especially electricity, cost much more than in other states, and house prices are the most expensive in the U.S. Despite these economic challenges, Hawaii continues to draw new residents attracted by its diversity of cultures and island lifestyle.

Maine View School Profile ,

Maine's leading economic sectors, including social assistance, professional services, government, and education, provide the best options for job seekers with backgrounds in sociology. Postsecondary sociology teachers can find faculty positions at the state's seven public colleges and universities, and its 21 private schools. These educators earn relatively high salaries compared to other occupations in the state at an annual mean income of $68,630. Maine's commitment to sustainability and increasing opportunities in the technology sectors also translates into career opportunities for research-oriented sociologists. The Portland area contains 40% of the state's population and offers the most opportunities for sociology job seekers.

The cost of living remains relatively high and the state's median household income falls below the national average. However, Maine has more affordable housing than other states in New England. It ranks high on quality of life indices, such as air and water quality, and social indicators like community engagement, making it an attractive location for sociology professionals and practitioners.

Washington View School Profile ,

Washington has 7 million residents, with a projected population growth of about 2 million by 2040. Racial and ethnic minorities have grown faster than the white population, with Asians as the fastest growing group. This population boom has spurred job and salary growth for sociologists. The state's expanding technology industry offers well-paying opportunities for research sociologists who earn an annual mean salary of $72,610, and for postsecondary sociology educators who earn an annual mean salary of $69,130.

Washington's median household income stands well above the national average, and the state does not collect personal income taxes. However, the cost of living ranks significantly higher than the national average, and living expenses vary considerably across the state. Seattle remains the state's most expensive city with the least affordable housing prices, and the most affordable prices are in Spokane and Centralia.

Wisconsin View School Profile ,

Wisconsin has a population of 5.8 million, and most of its projected population is centered around the metropolitan areas of Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, and Kenosha. Sociologists generally find the best employment prospects within these urban areas in government, social services and research, and with the state's 88 institutions of higher education. The annual mean salary for postsecondary sociology teachers in Wisconsin averages $96,850, which is higher than in most other states. However, budget cuts have impacted higher education jobs in recent years, and job growth across all sectors continues to lag behind other states.

Sociologists employed in Wisconsin benefit from the state's overall affordability; the cost of living in Wisconsin runs 6% less than the national average. Housing and rental costs remain lower than in neighboring states, while utilities and healthcare expenses run slightly higher. Wisconsin's median household income has remained on par with the national level.

Arkansas View School Profile ,

Arkansas has a population of just under 3 million, and the state has experienced fairly stable economic growth in line with the rest of the country. The field of education, one of the fastest-growing economic sectors in the state, provides the best career options for sociologists. Arkansas has over 40 institutions of higher education, including 10 four-year universities, 22 two-year colleges, and two private universities where sociology teachers may find faculty positions. The annual mean wage for these educators averages $81,190.

The cost of living in the state stands as the third lowest in the nation. However, the state faces economic challenges as the overall median household income falls 25% below the national average. While unemployment has fallen below the national average, Arkansas has a poverty rate of 17%.

How to Choose a Bachelor's in Sociology Program

Do your homework before choosing a sociology program. Pay attention to the school's accreditation status, program rankings, and reputation. With so many options for on-campus and online sociology degrees, ask yourself what works best for you. Are you planning to attend full time, or do you need a flexible, part-time schedule that allows you to keep working or handle your family obligations?

Sociology covers a broad range of issues, but many programs emphasize a specific focus. Do the courses and specializations reflect your interests and career goals? Does the program require a capstone course, an internship, or an independent research project or thesis? The best sociology programs provide prospective students with information about the number of graduates who found employment or how many have gone on to earn graduate or professional degrees.

Cost represents one of the most important considerations in selecting a program. Tuition rates vary considerably between public and private institutions. The school's location also contributes to the cost. Some online programs may require you to travel to campus for in-person residencies. If you select a traditional campus-based program, do you plan to commute or live in an apartment or a student residence? Can you rely on public transportation, or do you need a vehicle? Check out the cost of living, food and gas prices, and housing expenses where your intended school is located. If you know you must work while attending school, ask about work-study or other on-campus job opportunities. What are the possibilities for off-campus employment?

Programmatic Accreditation for Bachelor's in Sociology Programs

Students should understand the importance of earning their degree from an accredited institution. Independent accrediting agencies evaluate schools to ensure that they deliver quality education. The majority of accredited schools receive regional accreditation; institutions with lower tuition rates and less restrictive admissions policies may opt for national accreditation. Find out if your intended school has been awarded accreditation at the national or regional level, and if the sociology degree has earned programmatic accreditation from the Commission on the Accreditation of Programs in Applied and Clinical Sociology (CAPACS).

Programs or departments within a school that already received accreditation may seek programmatic accreditation. The best sociology programs have earned CAPACS programmatic accreditation. This specialized designation recognizes quality programs in applied, clinical, and public sociology, and sociological practice. While CAPACS accreditation may be a factor when choosing your program, especially if your career goals are in clinical and applied sociology, keep in mind that relatively few sociology programs have earned this designation.

Bachelor's in Sociology Program Admissions

Students who intend to enroll at a traditional brick-and-mortar college right after high school should begin researching different schools as soon as 11th grade. While most schools set application deadlines for February of senior year, students can apply as early as the summer after junior year. Students should select two or three “target schools” they most want to attend. They should also decide on a few “safety schools,” where they feel fairly confident about their admission chances, and one or two “reach schools,” where the competition may eliminate them from the acceptance pool.

Each school sets its own admission requirements. While many on-campus programs consider SAT or ACT scores, most schools give considerable weight to overall academic performance, co-curricular service, and other factors. Because online programs often target admission at working professionals or others who have been out of school for a while, their admissions requirements may not require standardized tests or a minimum GPA.


Most schools require a baseline GPA of 2.5 or 3.0. Schools may also look favorably at a GPA that has improved from ninth grade and view a declining GPA negatively.

Admission Materials

Some colleges use short application forms requesting basic information, while others require much more documentation. CommonApp, a college admission tool, helps streamline the process. Students can apply to any of its 750 member schools by completing one form. A high school transcript shows your grades, classes completed, and overall GPA. Most colleges require a stamped, official transcript submitted with the application.Some high schools charge a small fee for preparing and mailing transcripts. Some colleges may require three or more recommendations. Make sure you ask for letters at least a month or more before the application deadline. Choose teachers and advisers who will describe you in positive ways that set you apart from other applicants. Students take the SAT or ACT during their junior year or early in their senior year. Colleges consider test scores as one of many factors in their admission decision. Most schools do not mandate a minimum cutoff score. Students can expect to pay an average of $40 for each college application. Students with financial hardships may request a fee waiver.

What Else Can I Expect From a Bachelor's in Sociology Program?

While program requirements vary by school, most sociology degrees consist of a core set of courses in social theory, research methods, socialization and society, social inequality, and social change. As students progress through the major, they may choose from elective courses and concentrations that align with their interests and career goals.

Concentrations Offered for a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology
Concentration Description Careers
Social Inequalities and Social Identities This concentration explores how the intersection of race, class, gender, sexuality, and other social locations shape inequalities and identities. It examines how social hierarchies emerge and reinforce each other. Coursework includes social stratification, race and ethnicity, social construction of race, sociology of gender, masculinities and sexualities, and women and social change. Researchers and applied sociological practitioners in government or nonprofit agencies, social workers, community organizers, law professionals, public policy researchers
Globalization and Social Change Students study global issues within the context of sociological theory and research. Areas of analysis include global markets, global culture and consumption, socioeconomic development, global inequality and poverty, and immigration and migration. Coursework addresses how globalization intensifies these processes, creating new social challenges and opportunities for social transformation. Policy analysts and researchers in internationally-focused nonprofits and government agencies, refugee services providers, immigration advocates
Crime, Deviance, and Social Control This set of courses emphasizes the causes of crime and deviance and the social forces and institutions that regulate deviant and criminal behavior from a sociological perspective. It explores how norms, values, and culture shape behavior and attitudes, constructing social definitions of deviance and crime. Courses address juvenile delinquency, family violence, sexual abuse, drug culture, policing, and corrections. Probation, law enforcement, and criminal justice officers; social workers; addictions counselors; victim advocates
Health and Social Welfare This concentration attracts students interested in healthcare as a social problem. It examines the healthcare delivery systems in the United States and internationally, social conditions that create disparities in well-being and illness, and the social, economic, and political forces that inform health and welfare policies. Social workers, gerontology administrators and caregivers, public health advocates, substance abuse counselors, policy researchers in government or nonprofit agencies
Mass Media and Popular Culture Students explore the impact of mass media and popular culture, including films, television, popular music, and social media with an emphasis on how media vehicles create and filter meaning throughout society. Courses include technology and society, popular culture, race and gender, film and society, and privacy and community in the digital age. Arts and cultural production specialists, media researchers and educators, social media managers, marketing researchers

Courses in a Bachelor's in Sociology Program

Because sociology covers such a broad range of topics, each program offers a different approach, depending on the expertise of the faculty. While a common curriculum does not exist, many sociology degrees require foundational courses in sociological theory and research methodology. Most programs also offer electives and concentrations addressing a variety of social processes and social problems.

Race and Race Relations

This course explores macro-level and micro-level theories that explain the experiences of racial and ethnic groups, emphasizing a critical race perspective and the ways that individual perceptions and interactions across racial and ethnic groups relate to structural patterns. This course aligns with the career goals of students interested in policy analysis and research in government and nonprofit agencies.


This introduction to the study of gerontology applies a sociological perspective to the study of aging and the aged. Students analyze issues unique to an aging population, including demographic trends, retirement, and healthcare, through a life course methodology. Gerontology can lead to career opportunities in healthcare, advocacy, and social work administration assisting the elderly.

Social Services and Social Welfare

This course surveys social service systems and the major fields of practice within the profession of social work, including child and family welfare, juvenile delinquency, health and occupational social work, and criminal justice. This course helps students prepare for entry-level positions in social services and provides a foundation for graduate work in social work and related fields.

Gender and Violence

This examination of the structural roots of gender-based violence covers domestic abuse, sexual assault, harassment and workplace abuse, hate crimes, law enforcement abuse, international violence, and gender-focused genocide. The course requires participation in anti-violence training and organizing, where students acquire skills to work as victim advocates and domestic abuse counselors.

Social Inequality

The study of inequality examines social theories and empirical analysis of class, wealth, income, age, race and gender inequality, and stratification. Students explore historical and comparative analyses of structural inequality; the U.S. class system; and global perspectives on wealth, poverty, and social mobility. This course helps students prepare for career paths in policy research and community organizing.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor's in Sociology?

A sociology degree generally takes four years of full-time study. Most programs require 120 credits, or about 40 courses. Several factors affect the length of time to complete a bachelor's degree. Students should consider whether they can attend classes full time or part time. Some students can maintain continuous enrollment over the course of eight semesters while others may have periods of nonattendance or opt for one or more semesters of part-time coursework. Full-time status usually requires 12 hours each semester, but students must take more than this minimum if they want to graduate in four years.

Students with work and family commitments may prefer the flexibility of an online degree. Some online programs offer accelerated degrees that students may complete in 18 months to two years. Students may shorten the time to complete a degree by bringing in transfer credits from other colleges or high school AP courses that exempt them from required or introductory courses.

How Much Is a Bachelor's in Sociology?

The cost of an undergraduate education continues to increase. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), first-time, full-time undergraduates at both public and private nonprofit four-year institutions paid higher average tuition and fees in 2016-17 than in 2010-11. The NCES reports that the average tuition for public four-year institutions rose to $8,800 in 2016-17, which is a 12% increase from 2010-11. The average tuition for private nonprofit four-year institutions increased by 15% to $33,500 in the same period.

Many factors impact the overall cost of a sociology degree. Each college determines its tuition pricing differently. Students should consider whether programs at public institutions offer better value than private schools. They should compare out-of-state tuition rates to the cost of attending an in-state school. Students should also research expenses for books and supplies, room and board, food, and transportation.

When selecting colleges, research the cost of living in the communities around campus. Does your intended school offer on-campus work-study opportunities? What about the outlook for off-campus employment? Make sure to investigate financial aid. Should you apply for a student loan, or do you qualify for any aid in the form of scholarships or grants?

Certifications and Licenses a Bachelor's in Sociology Prepares For

Currently, only applied and clinical sociologists with advanced degrees may seek certification credentials. Graduates with a bachelor's degree in sociology working in social services or criminal justice positions may sometimes apply for specialized licensure or certifications in fields like addictions counseling and conflict mediation.

Certified Sociological Practitioner

This certification, awarded by the Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology (AACS), establishes standards of excellence in sociological practice and recognizes the accomplishments of experienced sociological practitioners who work in the fields of applied, clinical, or engaged public sociology. Applicants must hold a master's or doctoral degree in sociology and provide substantial documentation of their contributions to applied practice.

Certified Clinical Sociologist

The AACS awards this certification to sociologists who demonstrate active engagement in the application of sociological perspectives to the analysis and design of intervention for positive social change. Sociologists working in clinical settings with a master's or Ph.D. may apply for this certification.

Resources for Sociology Students


This useful social science information site, maintained by the University of Amsterdam, provides links to international data archives and research centers. It hosts a comprehensive listing of subject areas in sociology that includes annotated bibliographies and study guides.

World Bank Development Report

This annual report presents case studies, analysis, and recommendations on all aspects of global economic development. Recent reports considered issues related to healthcare delivery, economies in transition, and environmental challenges.

General Social Survey

Published by the National Opinion Research, the GSS monitors changes in social characteristics and attitudes held by the U.S. population on such issues as race relations, crime, confidence in public institutions, and quality of life.

Everyday Sociology

Geared toward students and educators, this entertaining and informative blog presents sociological perspectives on current news events and social problems. Sociologists from across the U.S. contribute commentary on issues ranging from immigration and violence to racial and gender inequality.

Sociologists Say

This Twitter feed provides news and commentary on current events, and links to research and policy statements relevant to sociologists and students. It often reports on controversial topics but attempts to stay grounded in sociological theory and based in fact.

Professional Organizations in Sociology

Sociology students should explore employment and graduate study possibilities long before they finish their degree. Joining a professional organization as an undergraduate provides an excellent opportunity to network with aspiring and established sociologists, learn about careers and internships, and stay current about developments in the field. Professional associations for sociologists embrace many specialized interests by sponsoring networking events and conferences. Student members can take advantage of their job banks, resume services, and career development resources.

American Sociological Association

ASA serves over 13,000 members. It sponsors an annual academic conference, hosts an extensive resource site providing information on careers, professional development, and graduate training, and maintains a job bank.

Association of Black Sociologists

ABS promotes the interests of African American sociologists. It works to increase the number of professionally-trained black sociologists and advocates to expand their participation throughout the discipline. The association hosts an annual conference and maintains a job bank for its members.

Society for the Study of Social Problems

This interdisciplinary association brings together sociologists interested in research, social policy, and social action. Undergraduate and graduate members have access to annual meetings and applications for research support and conference travel grants.

International Sociological Association

ISA members include practicing sociologists from across the world. It sponsors networking and professional development opportunities and offers several publications to keep its members abreast of the latest research.

Sociologists for Women in Society

This organization promotes women in sociology by encouraging scholarship, career development, and institutional diversity. It offers a mentoring program and publishes Gender and Society, a peer-reviewed journal focused on the study of gender across global and transnational spaces.

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