Online Sociology Graduate Programs & Schools
Online sociology graduate programs prepare students to use quantitative analysis to study social structures and understand them in a scientific way. Programs may cover research methodologies, and principles of psychology, politics, and anthropology.
In many cases, sociology graduate programs aim to establish a foundation of academic skills to support students as they pursue sociology research and higher education. However, some might also look towards applications in business, human services, government or policy.
Online sociology degree programs offer a unique combination of intellectual rigor, technology, and flexibility. Degree and certificate programs may be available at the masters and doctoral level.
What Are Online Sociology Graduate Programs?
Online sociology graduate programs allow students to explore human society by accessing courses from their own computer, usually in a web browser. There’s often a degree of freedom with respect to the exact scheduling, so long as students meet various course deadlines. Most programs also offer online support. Examples include research materials (e.g. online library access or research databases), academic and career counseling, tutoring, and social networking opportunities. However, the specifics may vary by program.
This enables schools to meet students where they are, on their terms. After all, a diverse student population has diverse needs. Whether you’re looking at studying online because that’s how you prefer to learn, or because you’re trying to balance career or family obligations, online sociology graduate programs could provide an education that fits in with your life.
What Is Sociology?
Sociology is the study of human society. It seeks to understand the different social structures that determine how groups are comprised and behave. This is accomplished using a combination of quantitative analysis and theories in psychology, social theory, political science, and anthropology. In other words, it’s a diverse field that unites a broad range of knowledge and skills.
At the graduate level, online sociology degree programs may vary considerably, depending on their central topic of study and how they choose to approach it. Topics of interest may include multicultural communities, religious traditions in different societies, race, socioeconomics, class disparity, different types of family units, and policy issues.
What Is Human Development?
Online human development graduate programs focus on how people grow and change over time, and how those changes impact the way they interact with society. That means looking at the ways people at different stages interact with family groups, their roles in society, etc. Courses might also discuss how society views people in different stages of life, the way they are treated, and related legal mechanisms. Human development programs may touch on sociological concepts, as well as psychology, neuroscience, and law and policy.
Types of Online Sociology Graduate Programs
A few varieties of online sociology graduate programs may be available. The type of program you attend could have an impact on everything from curriculum to graduation requirements to potential offline elements. While the terminology describing these program types may vary, they can generally be broken down into two basic categories.
- Scholarly programs focus on research practices, methodology and analysis. They may aim to facilitate careers in research or academia, or as sociology teachers at the secondary or postsecondary levels.
- Practitioner-based programs focus on applying sociology research findings in a professional context. This involves developing a thorough understanding of contemporary social issues, social theory, and research practices.
Scholarly programs tend to have graduation requirements along the lines of a thesis or dissertation. Even if the program is primarily online, students may sometimes be expected to appear on campus to present these types of projects or meet with faculty in the service of completing them.
Similarly, practitioner-based programs may have capstone projects or even field experience components. This could mean students need to visit campus or organize these experiences on their own.
For more information about program types, graduation requirements, and offline elements, reach out to the program in question.
Example Sociology Graduate Classes
The curriculum at each online sociology graduate program may be unique, impacted by factors like the school’s approach, an area of concentration, the goals of that program, and the type of university. However they typically cover a few core areas. What follows are some examples of the types of courses you might expect to find.
- Collective Behavior: In sociology, collective behavior refers to routine and non-routine behaviors enacted by people in (usually large) groups. These are often spontaneous, and may conflict with existing social structures, systems and laws. Courses might look at demonstrations, protests, strikes, and riots, to name a few examples.
- Social Stratification: Social stratification refers to the different ways a society might divide up into formal or informal class systems. It describes the social power held by some groups over others. Courses might talk about how this interacts with race, wealth, religion, family, and more, depending on the values and history of the stratified society in question.
- Urbanization: This area of study focuses specifically on social, political and economic issues in cities. It also may explore the movement of groups in and out of cities, suburbs, and exurbs. Some courses could examine cities as microcosms of group behavior on a larger scale.
- Socioeconomics: Socioeconomics centers on the relationship between society, social behavior, and the economy. Classes may discuss not only how social processes impact the economy as a whole, but also how social stratification of different groups is impacted by socioeconomic status.
- International Migration: This subject examines the movement of people between states. Topics include nationality, citizenship, and social membership, and how those membership statuses might change over time for individuals and groups.
- Political Sociology: Because politics and society are so closely intertwined—in fact, sociology can sometimes inform law and policy—many programs dedicate time to studying this relationship. Courses like this would discuss state, public and social organizations, a well as the relationship between social structures and political processes. Students might also explore political action and revolution, and the ways that law and policy can impact social groups.
- Sociology and Education: The education system is integral to many aspects of society, especially in communities with comparably fewer resources who depend on their school system to provide important services. Sociology and education courses examine this complex relationship, and the ways in which the education system and educational policy impact different groups.
- Religion and Society: Religious beliefs and traditions are central to many communities around the world, at the family level as well as at large. Many sociology degree programs will therefore touch on the relationship between religious beliefs, institutions and traditions and the societies they exist within. Some programs may even study specific religious traditions and communities.
This is only a sample of classes your online sociology graduate program might offer. Contact individual programs for a full course list.
Online Sociology Graduate Degree Levels
Online sociology graduate programs may serve a wide range of students, with different interests and levels of experience. Whether you’re a recent graduate from a bachelor’s program or have some related professional experience—or even a graduate degree—there may be online sociology degree programs created with you in mind.
Online Masters in Sociology
Masters in sociology online programs are typically designed for students holding a bachelors degree who hope to deepen their understanding of methods of analysis, as well as sociology theory and practice. Most award either a Master of Science (MS) or a Master of Arts (MA) degree. The difference between the degree types is often nominal. However, when there is a significant difference, it may be that the MS program emphasizes quantitative analysis over softer skills like communication. When earning a masters in sociology online, students may also be able to choose an area of concentration, such as applied or medical sociology.
It may be important to review the graduation requirements in advance. That’s because many masters programs require either a thesis or capstone project, which could involve a visit to campus or even field experience. This also could impact graduation times. Most students could earn an online masters in sociology degree in 2 years of full time study but programs vary. Contact schools to learn more about curriculum, requirements and program length.
Online PhD in Sociology Programs
If you’ve already earned your masters and begun your sociology career, earning a doctorate in sociology online could be your next step. Online sociology doctoral programs are often scholarly in nature. Those programs may center on research practices, and support doctoral candidates as they pursue original research. Other programs are more practitioner-oriented. While practitioner-based online sociology programs might also incorporate research elements, they’re generally designed to support other roles in the field, putting that research data into practice.
Two important questions to ask when deciding on an online sociology doctoral program are what type of graduation requirements there are, and what type of in-person requirements may be asked of you, if any. If you’re attending a more academic online sociology doctoral program, one centered on research or teaching, you’re likely to complete a dissertation. You many need to visit campus periodically for things like proposing a topic, meeting with dissertation advisors, or presenting and defending a dissertation.
Online Sociology Graduate Certificate Programs
Online sociology graduate certificate programs are usually topical, meaning they center on a certain issue, role, or segment of society. For example, one might study child welfare, social justice, or rural development. This means they generally have a fairly short curriculum and require fewer credits than a full degree program. Graduate certificates may be offered at the masters or post-masters level, making them a potential option if you want to get a taste of graduate sociology education or build on the education you already have.
Sociology Career Info
An online sociology degree could support the pursuit of a variety of roles. From engaging in sociology-related research and educating others, to using sociology research to inform business or government activity, graduates may have a number of paths they could take.
Below are a few example careers sociology graduates may be interested in, along with relevant salary data.
- Sociologist: 2016 Median Salary $79,750i
- Postsecondary Teacher: 2016 Median Salary $75,430ii
- Political Scientist/Policy Researcher: 2016 Median Salary $114,290iii
- Social Work: 2016 Median Salary $46,890iv
- Survey Research: 2016 Median Salary: $574,470v
Entry level education requirements may vary considerably, depending on the type of career sought. In some cases, only a bachelors degree might be necessary to get started, though graduate education could enhance a career or support advancement. Depending on the career in question, there may be additional prerequisites, like experience or professional certification. This could be a requirement or down to employer preference. For more information on how you might need to prepare, reach out to the career advisement services at your selected university.
Search for Online Sociology Graduate Programs
If you’re ready to begin searching for online sociology graduate programs, GradSchools.com is here to help! Narrow your choices down by using the menu to select your preferred degree level and specialty (if any). Then read more about what to expect in those programs and review the sponsored program listings that match! Click on the program names to find out more and request information. Then start your application!
[i] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/sociologists.htm | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/postsecondary-teachers.htm | [iii] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/political-scientists.htm | [iv] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm | [v] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/survey-researchers.htm
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Schools with Online Sociology Graduate
GradSchools.com offers 23 Online Sociology Graduate
Grand Canyon University
Nova Southeastern University
University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Pacific Oaks College
Amridge University (formerly Southern Christian University)
International University of Professional Studies
Middle Tennessee State University
North Carolina State University
Sam Houston State University
Texas Tech University
California State University, Fullerton