Sociology is a broad, multidisciplinary field dedicated to the study of human interaction within various social settings and situations. Sociologists focus on the different types of relationships people form with one another, as well as the social hierarchies found in institutions like schools, workplaces and religious establishments. Many sociologists approach their research from a scientific standpoint, while others observe and interview subjects in order to inform social policies and programs.
What are the best sociology programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:
|1||University of Florida||Gainesville, FL|
|2||Florida International University||Miami, FL|
|3||University of Central Florida||Orlando, FL|
|4||California State University, Fullerton||Fullerton, CA|
|5||Arizona State University||Scottsdale, AZ|
|6||California State University, Bakersfield||Bakersfield, CA|
|7||California State University, Chico||Chico, CA|
|8||Fort Hays State University||Hays, KS|
|9||Texas State University||San Marcos, TX|
|10||Central Washington University||Ellensburg, WA|
A bachelor's degree in sociology can prepare students for a wide range of career pathways. Those drawn to empirical observation and analysis may pursue research-driven roles in sociology or other related social sciences, such as anthropology, psychology or economics. Sociology degree programs also emphasize communication and media science; as such, this academic track is ideal for students who plan to work in fields like marketing, public relations and human resources. A large number of sociology degree-holders find careers in social work and community development as well. Many of today's students are choosing to earn their bachelor's in sociology online. Online sociology programs follow the same rigorous curriculum as brick-and-mortar options. The asynchronous (or self-paced) schedule of most online sociology degrees is conducive for students with part-time jobs, childcare duties and other responsibilities that may interfere with campus-based learning.
Learn more about what you can do with an online bachelor's degree in sociology and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.
- WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH A SOCIOLOGY DEGREE?
Professionals with a bachelor's in sociology are prepared for many careers, including sociologist, public relations specialist, human resource specialist, and social worker. Read more here..
- WHAT IS A SOCIOLOGY DEGREE?
The field of sociology is dedicated to the study of human interaction within various social settings and situations. Students will study social hierarchies in religion, schools, and other organizations. Read more here..
- IS SOCIOLOGY A HUMAN SERVICES DEGREE?
Yes. Sociology is considered a human service. Read more here..
- CAN YOU BE A TEACHER WITH A SOCIOLOGY DEGREE?
To teach at the postsecondary level, most schools will require applicants to have earned a master's degree in their field. Read more here..
- WHAT DOES A SOCIOLOGY DEGREE TEACH YOU?
Common sociology courses include sociological theory, social deviance, and race and ethnicity. Students will study human interaction within various social settings. Read more here..
Choosing a Program
WILL AN ONLINE SOCIOLOGY DEGREE PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?
An undergraduate sociology curriculum will cover all fundamental areas of the field, such as criminal justice and law, socioeconomics, urban and rural studies, and population trends. Students will also be introduced to different research and analysis methods, as well as some of the key theories and findings that guide modern sociology. Many online sociology bachelor's programs culminate in a capstone project, allowing students to demonstrate the skills and knowledge they have gained through a comprehensive research paper. Some may feature required or optional internships, as well.
WILL AN ONLINE SOCIOLOGY DEGREE PROGRAM WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?
Online bachelor's in sociology programs offer a flexible alternative to traditional, classroom-based education. Students are able to access course lectures and readings, participate in class discussions, submit written assignments, take exams and contact their professors from their home computer. Current technology also allows them to study on the go using a laptop, tablet, smartphone and other portable, Wi-Fi-compatible devices. For added convenience, online students can usually coordinate internship courses at sites near their current residence.
WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY BACHELOR'S DEGREE IN SOCIOLOGY?
Research-oriented jobs in sociology typically require a master's degree or Ph.D., but most other careers related to the field are attainable with a bachelor's degree. These include entry-level roles in marketing, human resources and other business-related fields, as well as public relations. Many social workers also enter the workforce after earning a bachelor's, although these candidates will need to earn a state-issued license in order to work in certain places (such as clinical settings).
WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE SOCIOLOGY DEGREE PROGRAMS?
Choosing a program is an incredibly personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school's strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online bachelor's degree in sociology programs in the United States. If you are considering an online bachelor's in sociology, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific bachelor's degree requirements and offerings.
Accredited Online Sociology Programs
University of Florida
|Gainesville, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
UF delivers online programs through the Canvas platform, enrolling over 3,500 distance learners annually. The university's undergraduate catalog includes an online bachelor of arts in sociology that focuses on the complex causes and consequences of human behavior. Throughout a 120-credit curriculum, learners gain the research and communication skills needed to pursue graduate studies or entry-level jobs in marketing, criminal justice, and social services.
Program coursework includes introduction to statistics and methods of social research. Students also delve into advanced topics like poverty and inequality, medical sociology with regard to aging, and family and gender studies. Students must pass a comprehensive exam to graduate from this online bachelor's in sociology program.
First-year applicants need a minimum 2.0 GPA and adequate ACT or SAT scores. Transfer applicants need a minimum 2.5 GPA.
Florida International University
|Miami, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 58%||
With over 20 years of experience, FIU is a leader in distance learning. The university delivers more than 100 online certificates and degrees, including a fully online bachelor's degree in sociology and anthropology. After completing this comprehensive program, students are prepared to shape positive social change as counselors, policy analysts, and community organizers.
Required courses in the sociology track cover topics like societies in the world, sociological theories, and quantitative social research. Students use 42 elective credits to pursue specialized topics in the major or complete a complementary minor. FIU offers one-on-one support by pairing each student with a personal success coach.
Distance learners may enroll in the fall, spring, or summer. Admission requirements include a minimum 2.0 GPA and ACT or SAT scores.
University of Central Florida
|Orlando, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 73%||
UCF offers over 90 online academic programs through the Canvas platform. Distance learners can earn an online bachelor's degree in sociology to prepare for work as human resources administrators, behavioral analysts, and diversity training specialists.
The program's curriculum includes required coursework in applied social statistics and research. Students in the program can earn a BA or a BS. BA students must take two semesters of a foreign language or American Sign Language, while BS learners need to complete an advanced methods course. All students round out the program by completing a data analysis capstone project.
In addition to good ACT or SAT scores, first-year applicants need a minimum 2.5 GPA. Learners can complete the program entirely online or take some classes at the Miami campus.
California State University, Fullerton
|Fullerton, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 68%||
Founded in 1957, Cal State Fullerton currently serves about 40,000 students. The university offers 55 undergraduate programs, including an online bachelor's degree in sociology. By taking accelerated classes that span five or eight weeks, learners can complete this degree completion pathway in under three years.
The program's curriculum includes courses like social behavior in organizations, race and ethnic relations, and deviant behavior. Students also examine sociological theories related to family dynamics and the aged population. Graduates can find work as market researchers, mental health counselors, and public administrators.
To gain full admission into this program, applicants must have completed at least 69 transfer credits with a minimum 2.5 GPA.
Arizona State University
|Scottsdale, AZ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 48%||
One of the largest distance education providers in the nation, ASU serves approximately 30,000 students in over 200 online programs, including a bachelor's track in sociology. This program helps learners develop transferable critical thinking, analytical, and research skills. With six start dates each year and accelerated, 7.5-week classes, distance learners can complete their degree with plenty of flexibility.
ASU's bachelor's in sociology curriculum covers topics like applied statistics, history of social thought, and American cultural diversity. Learners also explore modern social problems like gender dynamics and racial/ethnic relations.
Applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA, rank in the top 25% of their high school class, or meet ACT or SAT thresholds based on residency status. About 87% of ASU students receive job offers within 90 days of graduation.
California State University, Bakersfield
|Bakersfield, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 42%||
CSUB offers 21 online certificates and degrees, including an online bachelor's degree in sociology that focuses on the systematic examination of human behavior. Students in this degree completion program learn to help individuals and groups coordinate their activities to achieve diverse goals. Graduates can pursue careers related to teaching, family planning, and social work.
Learners complete courses like self and society, multicultural diversity and the U.S. education system, and social stratification. All learners take a quantitative analysis class, which provides an overview of descriptive and inferential statistics. They can also pursue an optional communications minor.
This degree completion program requires applicants to have at least 60 transferable credits earned with a minimum 2.0 GPA. CSUB powers distance education with the Blackboard Learn platform.
California State University, Chico
|Chico, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 66%||
Chico State was founded in 1887, making it the second-oldest school in the California State University system. The university offers eight degree completion programs for online learners, including a bachelor's in sociology. Through a curriculum that combines humanistic and scientific perspectives, students learn to evaluate current events and changes to the global economy.
Program coursework includes classes like statistical analysis, ethnic and race relations, and sociology of wealth and inequality. Students also develop grant writing skills and complete an internship to gain practical experience. The program culminates in an integrative capstone seminar.
The program maintains fall and spring entry dates. Prospective learners need at least 60 credits and a minimum 2.0 GPA. The university provides a variety of financial aid opportunities, including the general Wildcat Scholarship.
Fort Hays State University
|Hays, KS||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 44%||
FHSU delivers online certificates and degrees through the Blackboard platform . Undergraduate students can earn an online BA or BS in sociology. Through electives and a concentration option, this flexible program allows learners to align coursework with their research interests and professional goals.
Both degree types require 120 credits and include coursework in advanced sociological research, cultural anthropology, and social inequality. BA students must satisfy a foreign language requirement. Students can also complete an optional addictions counseling concentration to learn how to deliver prevention, recovery, and crisis care services.
Applicants who live in Kansas need a minimum 2.0 GPA. Non-resident applicants need a GPA of at least 2.5. Additionally, applicants must rank in the top one-third of their high school graduating class or submit adequate ACT or SAT scores.
Texas State University
|San Marcos, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 55%||
Texas State serves more than 38,000 students and offers nearly 100 undergraduate degrees, including a bachelor of science in applied sociology. This hybrid program requires distance learners to take 51-75% of their classes at Texas State's San Marcos campus.
Major courses cover topics like sociological theory, statistics for the behavioral sciences, and applied data analysis. The program emphasizes hands-on skill development, requiring students to complete a 300-hour internship. Learners can collaborate with university partners in the Austin-San Antonio Corridor or find their own internship opportunities.
Texas State maintains a competitive admissions process that evaluates first-year applicants based on their class rank and ACT or SAT scores. Transfer applicants do not need to submit standardized test scores if they have 16 or more college credits.
Central Washington University
|Ellensburg, WA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 55%||
Based in Ellensburg, CWU delivers distance learning through the Canvas platform. Online students can choose from 21 undergraduate and graduate programs, including a fully online bachelor's in sociology. Learners develop the conceptual and methodological tools needed to pursue careers in market research, demography, and public administration.
The program's curriculum includes required courses in social theory and applied research methods. Students can pursue their own interests through electives, wth options like punishment and corrections, sociology of immigration, and death and dying. All students must complete a minor or second major and fulfill a foreign language requirement.
First-year applicants with a 3.4 GPA or higher do not need to submit ACT or SAT scores. Transfer applicants must have a minimum 2.5 undergraduate GPA.
What to Expect From and Online Sociology Degree Program
Online bachelor's in sociology programs can vary widely in scope and content, and no two curricula are exactly alike. While every school offers different courses, concentrations, and program formats, the following overview offers a quick look at what online colleges for sociology have to offer.
CONCENTRATIONS OFFERED FOR AN ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN SOCIOLOGY
|Concentration||Description||Careers this concentration prepares for|
|Community Health||Covering major perspectives in sociological theory, this concentration explores the role of inequality in public health crises. Through coursework, students learn to apply abstract sociological concepts to issues facing communities around the world, while learning about the root causes of structural problems in the public health system.||Health policy lobbyist; Public Health Educator; Caseworker|
|Diversity and Inequality||Students who select this concentration gain an understanding of the causes of social inequality, while developing the integral skills necessary to work with diverse populations. Addressing topics in race, economics, and gender, this program offers a selection of the most recent sociological theories pertaining to diversity.||Human Rights Analyst; Diversity Trainer; Case Manager|
|Clinical Sociology||A specialization in clinical sociology is designed for students interested in client-based careers. Coursework provides a broad foundation in concepts pertaining to the family and human life stages, as well as sociological research methods. A concentration in applied sociology typically includes an internship or practicum component.||Counselor; Community Consultant; Mediator|
CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN SOCIOLOGY
From concentrations to curricula, all sociology programs online have different strengths. Some courses, however, are found in nearly every program. Anyone earning an online bachelor's in sociology is bound to come across some variation of the following courses:
- Sociological theory: This course provides a broad introduction to important sociological concepts and the thinkers who devised them. Readings from social scientists and scholars such as Karl Marx, Émile Durkheim, and Michel Foucault are central to the course, and crucial for anyone intending to pursue a graduate level sociology degree online.
- Social deviance: Through this course, students will define the concept of social deviance as they examine how this concept is constructed by society at large. Ideal for learners considering careers in criminal justice, this course explores the real and perceived causes of deviance, as well as common methods of containing and preventing it.
- Race and ethnicity: Designed to introduce concepts in racial and ethnic relations, this course also provides students with an understanding of racial discrimination and how it developed historically within various social spheres. Topics covered may include institutional racism, immigration, and the role of race in political policy.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN SOCIOLOGY?
While the average online bachelor's in sociology program requires around 120 credit hours to graduate, many others are significantly longer or shorter. The length of an online sociology degree program depends on several aspects, including whether or not an internship is required. However, the main factor influencing a program's duration is its pace.
Many online sociology degree programs are offered asynchronously, and allow students to take courses at their own pace. Offering maximum flexibility and less stringent schedules, asynchronous courses allow students to study at their convenience, often while balancing work and personal responsibilities. Without the requirement of logging in for digital meetings at specified times, students can progress through coursework quickly. Programs based on a cohort model are somewhat longer and less flexible, but offer a group-based learning experience that many prefer for its emphasis on student-faculty relationships. Students in a cohort are expected to be present online at designated times, and typically participate in group discussions or collaborate with “classmates” on projects.
Accreditation for online bachelor's in Sociology degrees
The best online bachelor's in sociology programs are those offered by accredited institutions. An accredited school is one that adheres to the standards defined by a quality assurance group known as an accrediting organization. Schools can be nationally or regionally accredited, depending on the organization they're assessed by. These terms are more than just labels, and it's important for anyone seeking an online sociology degree to understand what they mean.
Any school meeting certain criteria can be nationally accredited by any accreditation group, but there are only six organizations that can designate an institution as regionally accredited. Most regionally accredited schools are not-for-profit and focused on academics, while nationally accredited schools are most often for-profit vocational or technical colleges. Credits from regionally accredited schools can be transferred to virtually any other institution or program, while those from nationally accredited schools cannot. Anyone interested in potentially transferring or entering a graduate program should take accreditation into account before they apply.
Accreditation can also affect the cost of a degree. The Department of Education relies on accrediting agencies to determine which schools are eligible for financial aid, and some nationally accredited schools don't qualify. Non-governmental organizations like the Council for Higher Education Accreditation ensure that accrediting bodies adhere to the proper standards, making it easier for the government to provide schools with funding. Additionally, CHEA provides information to the public on the importance of accreditation and the danger of so-called degree mills and non-accredited programs. If you're searching for the best online bachelor's in sociology programs from accredited institutions, take a look at CHEA's extensive database of accredited schools.
Employment Outlook for Bachelor's in Sociology
The employment outlook for sociology bachelor's degree recipients is comparable to the national average for all occupations. A recent survey by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) found that college graduates between the ages of 25 and 29 with a degree in sociology face an ; comparatively, the national unemployment rate for all jobs is currently set at 4.9%.
The following table weighs the unemployment rate for these sociology majors against the rates for other social science degree-holders in the same age bracket.
|Bachelor's Degree Field of Study||Unemployment Rate for Bachelor's Degree- Holders Between 25 and 29 Years of Age|
|Social Work and Human Services||4.3%|
|Communications and Communications Technologies||4.8%|
|Marketing and Marketing Research||5.0%|
|Criminal Justice and Fire Protection||6.2%|
|Political Science and Government||8.2%|
As the table shows, sociology degree-holders face a middle-of-the-road unemployment rate after a few years in the workforce. The average unemployment rate for all degree majors on the survey was 4.8%.
Earning a Living
According to the 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report, students who graduate with a bachelor's degree in sociology earn a median annual salary of $40,400 during their first five years on the job and $62,300 after 10 years. The table below looks at salary expectations for students who earn degrees in sociology and other related fields after a decade in the workforce.
|Bachelor's Degree Field||Median Early Career Salary (0-5 years)||Median Mid-Career Salary (10+ years)|
|Advertising and Marketing Communications||$43,400||$79,800|
|Public Relations and Communication||$39,800||$71,200|
Of the 12 degree fields listed on the table, sociology degree-holders ranked fifth for mid-career salary and second-to-last for entry-level salary. Sociology majors experience a 54.4% salary increase between the entry-level and mid-career stages; by comparison, the average earnings growth rate for all 12 majors is 65.0%.
However, bachelor's degree field of study is not the only factor that impacts earning potential. Salaries in sociology will vary by specific job title, as well as other factors like company size and city/state of employment. The next table looks at career salary projections for five of the most common sociology career pathways.
|Occupation||Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years)||Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years)||Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 years)||Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)|
|Human Resources Specialist||$44,843||$50,172||$53,529||$59,188|
|Human Resources Generalist||$48,879||$53,520||$54,969||$56,232|
|Employee Relations Specialist||$49,000||$60,000||$62,000||$78,000|
|Public Relations Specialist||$41,894||$51,732||$60,650||$57,808|
Of these five careers, employee relations specialists saw the highest rate of career salary growth: a 59.2% increase between the entry-level and late-career stages. The remaining four careers experienced a similar earnings trajectory, making $40,000 to $49,000 during the first five years and $55,000 to $60,000 after 20 years on the job.
Career and Further Education Opportunities
Students who leave school with a bachelor's degree in sociology will be qualified for dozens of entry-level jobs, as well as some select positions normally reserved for candidates who have received an undergraduate education. Four of the most common occupations for sociology bachelor's recipients are outlined below.
Sociologists: Professional sociologists conduct research pertaining to the behaviors of different groups, as well as society as a whole. Many sociologists specialize in niche areas of their field, such as socioeconomics or cultural sociology. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most sociologists are employed by colleges and universities, government agencies and research organizations.
Public Relations Specialists: These professionals (also known as PR specialists) are responsible for generating and promoting a positive public image for the clients they represent; some PR specialists work with individuals or groups, while others offer their services to companies and organizations. Their duties include writing press releases, coordinating appearances at events and speaking to members of the media.
Human Resources Specialists: Human resources specialists (or HR specialists) are involved with the recruitment, screening and hiring of new employees at their company or organization. Depending on the size of their organization, they may also develop employee orientation programs, assist with questions about compensation and/or benefits and offer mediation for employee conflicts.
Social Workers: Employees in this broad profession work with other people to help them explore solutions for specific problems in their lives. Social workers may focus on careers and employment, education, personal finance or mental health counseling; clinical social work roles usually require a state-issued license.
|Occupation||Median Annual Salary|
|Public Relations Specialists||$56,770|
|Human Resources Specialists||$58,350|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Making professional connections and learning about different approaches to sociology is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you'll find three of the country's most prominent organizations established for sociology professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates.
- American Sociological Association: Founded in 1905, the ASA today represents more than 13,000 members and publishes nine academic journals. The association's website features a robust research library, professional development courses, a career center and fellowship opportunities.
- Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology: The AACS awards a credential known as the Certified Sociological Practitioner/Certified Clinical Sociologist designation. The association also holds an annual conference and publishes a peer-reviewed online journal.
- Association for Humanist Sociology: The AHS was founded in 1976 to provide an outlet for sociologists seeking alternative research methods. Benefits for registered members include complimentary journal/magazine subscriptions and reduced fees at official association events.
Financing Your Online Bachelor's in Sociology Program
Despite the relative affordability of online criminal justice master's programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.
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.
Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.
Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.
Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We've curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.
Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.
Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.