When you pursue a master's in sociology online, you prepare yourself for a variety of meaningful careers focused on community service and bettering society as a whole. Sociology is primarily an academic discipline that studies human interaction and culture, and an advanced degree in the field is perfect for those who work well with others and wish to make the world around them a more just and positive place.

Many careers within sociology are in high demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that community service management careers -- a common path for those with an online sociology master's degree -- will grow 18% over the next 10 years.

Sociology graduates have the skills and knowledge to understand how society works, which can be especially valuable when assisting those in need or developing successful programs and services. Whether you go on to become a university professor, program manager, social worker, case manager, or a professional in a different field, earning a master's in sociology online is a great step toward achieving your career goals.

What are the Best Online Master's in Sociology Programs?

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Birmingham, AL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 53%

In 1859, a medical college opened in Alabama that would, over the years, transform into the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB). The independent institution, part of the University of Alabama system, offers a master of arts in applied sociology program.

UAB designed the master's in sociology online for professionals seeking to improve teaching and research skills or advance their career with increased social research knowledge. Online coursework means students do not travel to campus, making it easier to balance work and life demands while pursuing a graduate-level degree.

The 30-credit online sociology master's degree program contains 18 hours of core courses and 12 hours chosen from a range of classes. Core learning covers applied social science research, sociological theory, trends and issues in applied psychology, and social psychological theory. Students in the master of arts in sociology online program complete course requirements by selecting from more than a dozen courses. Examples include teaching sociology, healthcare delivery systems, and sociological practice. Learners complete their degree with a capstone project.

The master's in sociology online degree program focuses on sociological practice research methods, theories, and perspectives. UAB courses follow a progression with assignments often based on professional goals and interests.

Candidates must possess a bachelor's or master's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and at least 12 credits of social science coursework. Master's in sociology online program applicants who do not meet the minimum requirements may gain admittance with department approval. UAB charges the same online tuition for in-state and out-of-state students.

UAB is accredited by The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Applied Sociology
Tuition: $534/credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits

Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum

Phone: (202) 975-5614
Email: culclark@uab.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter


Virginia Commonwealth University

Richmond, VA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 63%

Virginia Commonwealth University's predecessor opened in 1838 as a medical college. In 1968, two colleges merged, creating the university, located in Richmond, Virginia. Known by its nickname VCU, the institution offers the master of science in sociology program.

The master's in sociology online blends data and sociology, preparing students in digitally focused areas and social movements. Coursework examines how diverse groups intersect with the digital world, and how technology influences human behavior, relationships, and self-concept. Learners master important sociology concepts, literature evaluation skills, data analytics, and quantitative and qualitative reasoning.

The cross-disciplinary coursework blends theory, big data, and data visualization concepts with public sociology and digital social issues. Students create portfolios demonstrating an ability to apply theory, methods, and analysis to the digital realm.

Coursework covers public sociology, contemporary sociological theory, research methods, and research methods applications. Digital classwork examines digital issues in the social environment, including privacy, hacking, and harassment. The sociology master's programs online study digital data collection techniques, social networks, and digital sociology.

Students complete 36 credits in the online sociology master's degree program. Applicants must present transcripts from all schools attended, three letters of recommendation, and a statement of intent. VCU's course framework shows students may complete the degree in four semesters.

The online sociology master's degree distance learning format means students do not come to campus for classes. The best online sociology master's programs hold accreditation from a regional accrediting organization. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges confers accreditation to Virginia Commonwealth University.

Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Sociology
Available Concentrations: Digital sociology
Tuition: $12,134/year in-state; $24,949/year out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 36 credits

Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Phone: (804) 828-9432
Email: tmstamm@vcu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter


New Mexico State University-Main Campus

Las Cruces, NM Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 46%

In 1888, the New Mexico territory opened a college in a two-room building in Las Cruces. Over time, that small campus grew to 900 acres and more than 16,000 students, and took the name New Mexico State University. The university offers more than 60 online programs, including the master of arts in sociology.

The master's in sociology online explores research design, interpretation, and theory to understand individuals and groups of people. Core coursework provides a sociology overview focusing on theory and research and quantitative analysis. Seminars cover classical social thought, research methods, and qualitative research. The online sociology master's degree offers thesis and nonthesis options. Learners must maintain a minimum B- grade in core coursework. Students selecting the nonthesis option complete additional electives to meet the 36-credit graduation requirement.

Electives include perspectives and research on the U.S.-Mexico border region and international migration focusing on policy and assimilation. Classes study advanced race and ethnic relations, medical ethics, and theories of development and the world system.

Applicants submit transcripts of attended colleges and universities, a statement of purpose, and three letters of recommendation. Students must have a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. Candidates who do not meet the requirements may seek provisional acceptance.

The best online sociology master's programs provide flexibility for students seeking an advanced degree but are unable or unwilling to attend on-campus classes. Distance learning programs allow students to complete studies online while balancing work and family life. New Mexico State also offers a hybrid option.

New Mexico State University holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Sociology
Tuition: $400/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2-2.5 years

Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum

Phone: (575) 646-3448
Email: sway@nmsu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter


Sam Houston State University

Huntsville, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 51%

In 1851, the American soldier and politician Sam Houston attended the dedication of Austin Hall. The hall, still in operation, serves as the architectural centerpiece of Sam Houston State University of Huntsville, Texas. The university offers the master of arts in sociology degree program, a master's in sociology online with a focus on quantitative and qualitative research, theory, and statistics. Graduates acquire grant writing, impact assessment, and program evaluation skills needed for social issues analysis. The degree offers specializations in the environment and social change and development, stratification, culture and institutions, or applied sociology.

The 37-credit master of arts in sociology online offers a thesis and exam program option. Students start with a graduate school preparation seminar. Learners examine contemporary theory development, data collection, statistical techniques to analyze survey data, and applied research methods. Sam Houston State learners choose from 19 elective courses for degree completion. Courses include the sociology of aging, how religion operates in society, the social impact of disasters, and sociology of community.

The master's of arts in sociology online, a part of the college of humanities and social sciences, offers students the flexibility to complete a graduate degree while balancing work and life commitments. The program follows the same course schedule as traditional on-campus offerings. Applicants submit undergraduate transcripts showing a minimum 3.0 GPA, two letters of intent, two recommendations, and a writing sample.

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

Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Sociology
Available Concentrations: Environment, social change, and development; stratification; culture and institutions; applied sociology
Tuition: $4,138/semester in-state; $4,794/semester out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 37 credits

Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum

Phone: (936) 294-1511
Email: jk007@shsu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter


Texas A & M University-Commerce

Commerce, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 42%

Texas A&M University-Commerce, the second-largest institution in the Texas A&M system, offers the master of science in sociology degree program to students looking for advanced employment opportunities.

The university designed the master's in sociology online for students seeking careers in public service, teaching, research, or public and private administrative careers. Graduates may pursue advanced graduate work. Learners develop problem-solving, critical thinking, and leadership skills. Students may qualify for a range of positions including in higher education, protective services, probation or parole, and management. Students complete a final exam.

Students may complete the 30-credit online sociology master's degree program in two years. The program, a part of the sociology and criminal justice department, contains 16-week fall and spring semesters, and two 5-week summer sessions.

Students in the master of arts in sociology online program take 18 credits of core courses and 12 credits of electives. Core courses examine classic and contemporary readings, readings of classical theoreticians, and contemporary theories. Classes cover advanced research methodology, data analysis, and research literature and techniques.

Applicants submit one letter of recommendation, bachelor's degree transcripts, a statement of goals, three recommendations, and a writing sample. The sociology master's programs online require students to submit standardized test scores, though applicants may seek a waiver.

The master's in sociology online program provides a distance-learning option for students for learners who wish to complete courses from their home, library, or other locations convenient to them.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accredits Texas A&M University-Commerce.

Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Sociology
Tuition: $635/credit in-state; $1,050/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized Tests: GRE or GMAT

Phone: (903) 886-5332
Email: Sociology@tamuc.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

What Else Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Sociology Program?

Below, you will find a sample list of courses commonly offered through online master's degree programs in sociology. While course options differ between schools, this list should give you a good idea of the options available upon enrollment.

Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Sociology

  • Methods in sociology: This course provides a cohesive introduction to the methods commonly used in sociological inquiry, including social network analysis, comparative research, and ethnography. Students learn how to incorporate these methods into research. The class prepares students for their capstone projects.
  • Economic sociology: Students examine some of the most controversial issues in sociology, including the effects of capitalism, modernization, and development on communities and societies. The course also covers issues such as labor, entrepreneurship, inequality, social justice, and class systems around the world.
  • Fundamentals of ethnomethodology: This subset of sociology centers on the different ways members of a society can produce objects, actions, and events in ways that all can understand and agree upon. Specifically, students examine the social processes and norms that support various social phenomena, such as social structures, gender, race, and culture.
  • Sociology of religion: This course covers the relationships between society and religion, including the study of various religious symbols, practices, languages, and communities on a global scale. Students also explore historic and emerging religions, including how they affect cultures and ways congregations and denominations handle conflict.
  • Macro organizational theory: Students learn about the origins, maintenance, and decline of organizations in human cultures, including a variety of theories regarding why these structures exist and how they succeed or fail. In many cases, the course establishes sound research ideas for students' final capstone projects.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master's in Sociology?

While most students can earn an online sociology master's degree in two or fewer years, many factors influence program length. One of the most significant factors is whether you can learn at your own pace or if the program is taught in a cohort format. In the former arrangement, you can take more credits each semester or term and finish your degree quickly. Cohort learning requires you to take all or most of your classes with the same group of students, limiting you to the pace of the cohort.

Students enrolled in sociology master's programs online generally take 32-40 credits, depending on the format of the program and whether the school follows semester or quarter terms.

Accreditation for Online Master's in Sociology Degrees

It is important to identify a regionally or nationally accredited online master's in sociology program. When a school or program holds accreditation, it has met rigorous curriculum and instruction quality standards. Regional accreditation holds more prestige, although there are many nationally accredited colleges and universities offering top-tier academic programs, including those in sociology.

When looking at potential online master's degree programs in sociology, search for those accredited through regional agencies like the Higher Learning Commission, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, or the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. The most common national accrediting body is the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools. In addition to the school overall, specific programs may also receive accreditation.

There are two main agencies that oversee the practices of the accrediting bodies themselves. The U.S. Department of Education maintains a full list of approved agencies. There is also the Council on Higher Education Accreditation, an independent nonprofit that maintains strict standards for how accrediting agencies must go about evaluating colleges, universities, and programs. It also maintains a list of approved accreditors.

A full list of reputable accrediting agencies is available at the U.S. Department of Education's website.

Employment Outlook for Master's in Sociology Graduates

Master's in Sociology Salary

While sociology is not necessarily known for its lucrative pay, there is room for income growth. Sociologists, for example, tend to bring in significant salaries as they gain more experience. The amount of money you can make with a master's degree in sociology may vary depending on your workplace, your level of experience, and your career goals. The following table features income data for various professions in sociology.

Job Title Overall Median Salary Median Salary for Entry-Level Median Salary for Mid-Career Median Salary for Late-Career
Sociologist $50,670 $50,670 $58,270 $102,860
Community Service Manager $48,626 $42,304 $61,269 $61,755
Community Outreach Coordinator $40,484 $38,865 $44,127 $44,532
Social Worker $43,996 $40,036 $51,035 $55,875
Substance Abuse Counselor $37,881 $35,608 $43,563 $46,215

Master's in Sociology Careers

There are numerous career paths for those who graduate with an accredited online master's in sociology degree. A common thread among sociology careers is that they are service oriented. If you are friendly, tolerant, and passionate about making a positive difference, you are likely to succeed in these careers.

Community Service Manager

Responsible for creating, implementing, and evaluating programs and services for a community,these professionals play an important role in the health of society. They conduct community needs assessments, plan outreach activities, write grants, and ensure programs meet objectives. Community service managers typically work for nonprofits and government agencies.

Median Annual Salary: $64,680

Projected Growth Rate: 18%

Social Worker

Working directly with individuals and families, social workers help address a variety of challenges, including substance abuse, poverty, unemployment, and illness. They often connect people with key resources like food assistance, healthcare, childcare, and other social service providers. Social workers also find themselves assisting individuals with mental health issues.

Median Annual Salary: $46,890

Projected Growth Rate: 16%

Training and Development Specialist

These specialists ensure employees have the skills, training, and resources necessary to be successful in their jobs and careers. They may use various instructional techniques, evaluate training methods, and draw from diverse sources and materials as they design the best possible programs.

Median Annual Salary: $59,020

Projected Growth Rate: 11%

College Instructor

Some individuals with a master's degree in sociology become college instructors, teaching courses within their area of expertise. This involves planning lessons and grading assignments, developing exams, and working with students to ensure they have a grasp of course material.

Median Annual Salary: $75,430

Projected Growth Rate: 15%

Substance Abuse Counselor

These professionals work with individuals and families experiencing the effects of drug and/or alcohol abuse. They work with a wide range of people, including children, teenagers, adults, and senior citizens. It has become an especially important field as the country continues to deal with a worsening opioid crisis.

Median Annual Salary: $42,150

Projected Growth Rate: 23%

Professional Organizations

As you review the best online sociology master's programs, consider joining a professional organization related to the field. These groups provide valuable networking opportunities, especially for those just beginning their careers. The five organizations listed below offer continuing education, career services, job boards, and annual conferences.

Financing Your Online Master's in Sociology Program

You have some options when it comes to financing your online sociology master's degree. To start, be sure to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine if you qualify for financial aid, whether it's in the form of grants, scholarships, low-interest loans, or work-study awards. You should also explore funding opportunities within your prospective program, along with scholarships offered specifically to those seeking sociology degrees. Exploring these resources can reduce your student loan debt and make your higher education journey possible.


Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.


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