Sociology Graduate Programs in District of Columbia
Sociology graduate programs teach students to use scientific principles to understand how societies function and explore ways to use the resulting knowledge to encourage social change.
Bringing together different aspects of psychology and anthropology, sociology programs discuss the values, biases, and behaviors of social groups. Students might learn to analyze where these elements come from, and identify ways they influence social organization. While many programs are research-oriented, some may also be practitioner-based, focusing on applying research data strategically to effect change.
Sociology graduate programs might result in masters or doctorate degrees, or graduate certificates. Students may also study in a variety of convenient online and graduate school formats, to accommodate each student’s lifestyle and learning needs.
A sociologist is somebody dedicated to understanding how different parts of society interact, and why people behave the way they do in groups. As such, sociology is both a scientific field and an interdisciplinary one. Diverse topics like psychology, communication, and statistical analysis are all important components in what makes sociology unique. Sociology concepts and skills could be useful in a variety of contexts, from academic research, to business, policy, human services, and more.i
Sociology graduate programs usually emphasize research and analysis skills, such as how to write and conduct surveys and representative samplings, to prepare students to take on a variety of sociology related roles. This is alongside other varied topics, including socioeconomics, government, global conflict, racial and cultural diversity, and more. Overall, sociology programs promote values of diversity, empathy, and learning—and also the ability to set those feelings aside and conduct unbiased research.
We asked Liese Sherwood-Fabre, Ph.D. how sociology graduate programs can lead to a rewarding career:
"With a PhD in sociology focused on research, I have held various positions involving projects related to issues in health, education, and population. Some of the most exciting aspects of my work included working and living abroad for more than ten years. The most rewarding have been the impact my efforts have had on the lives of some of the most vulnerable in the US and internationally. Looking back at more than thirty years of applied sociological research and theory, I cannot think of a more fulfilling career."
~Liese Sherwood-Fabre, Ph.D. Click to Tweet
One of the central topics of sociology is the diversity of human communities. So it’s no wonder that sociology programs also tend to have a fairly diverse curriculum to go along with it. After all, people and society are complex, and understanding them requires a broad array of skills and knowledge.
Here are some examples of the types of courses you might find in your program of choice.
Course names and availability vary by program. Contact prospective sociology graduate programs for complete course listings.
Many sociology major students choose to continue their education beyond their bachelors degree. Which degree they aspire to depends heavily on their particular interests and motivations for doing so. Some might want to leverage their sociology expertise to help people and advise organizations in doing so. Others may want to perform research, while some maybe just love to learn. Each of those aspirations—and others not mentioned here—might be supported by a sociology graduate program.
Sociology masters programs typically confer either a Master of Science (MS) or a Master of Arts (MA) degree. The differences between these two options could be minimal, as both programs typically emphasize classical and contemporary sociology theory and research methodology. However, occasionally, the type of degree might tell you something about the curriculum. For example, a master of science in sociology program might lean more toward analytical skills and the science behind why people behave the way they do. Whereas a master of arts program might emphasize other skills, like cultural awareness and communication. Masters in sociology programs might also offer a thesis or non-thesis track.
Some sociology masters progams allow students to specialize in one of several areas to further focus their studies. Potential concentrations include criminal justice, family studies, social policy, urban studies and education. A concentration will likely influence the program's curriculum and requirements. While every school is unique, generally it takes about 2 years of full time study to earn a masters degree in sociology. Applicants may need a bachelors degree and a minimum GPA. Masters in sociology programs may also ask for a resume, letters of recommendation or additional test scores. Contact schools to learn more.
Earning a doctorate in sociology, your experience depends heavily on your area of interest and course of study. That’s because most PhD programs in sociology are research based—meaning your topic of choice has a big influence on what you learn and the types of courses you take. Because research is generally such a big component in earning a sociology PhD, your curriculum is likely to include a number of courses centered on research practices and methodology. That could include things like survey design, writing survey questions effectively, representative sampling, and statistical analysis and weighting. Doctorate programs typically also include a dissertation requirement. However, every program is unique so contact an admission advisor to confirm details.
Sociology graduate certificate programs tend to focus on a unique topic of interest rather than spanning the field as a whole. For example, somebody might choose to earn a sociology certificate focused on family dynamics, disability in society, gender, or honing in on certain social research skills. These programs tend to require relatively few courses to complete, as compared to masters and doctoral programs, and may therefore be shorter in length. They might be offered at either the masters or doctoral level. This indicates both the types of courses in the curriculum and the minimum education prerequisite to attend. For more information on your options and requirements, reach out to the program you’re thinking about attending.
Human Development, a subset of sociology, examines the relationship between people as they grow and change, specifically through relationships and environmental factors. As such, human development programs typically place a strong emphasis on developmental psychology. They may also touch on neuroscience and cognition, among other topics.
Some human development graduate programs may allow students to focus on more specific research areas. For example, some might study how people’s interaction with society changes as they age. Others might look at how cognitive health is impacted by social behavior. Or even how emotional, cognitive and social development of young children in different types of communities.
Human development masters and doctoral programs may be available, as well as graduate certificate programs, in a variety of convenient formats.
Sociology graduate programs are offered in a variety of formats. That way, they could potentially accommodate students from all walks of life. Whether you’re busy with family or working full time and need a ton of flexibility, or learn better on a regular schedule sitting in a physical classroom, a variety of options could be out there for you to consider. These could be sorted down into two essential categories.
Sociology degrees could support a variety of career paths. While many sociology graduate students look toward the academic path—that is, as research scientists and university faculty—it’s far from the only option. Sociology expertise may also be useful in public and social services, policy, law, and even potentially in business settings.
Here are a few example career paths sociology majors may be interested in. Keep in mind that entry-level requirements may vary on a case by case basis. Some may only require a bachelors degree, or may be accessible with varying education.
Start searching for sociology graduate programs with GradSchools.com! Filter your results using the menu, by selecting your preferred degree level and format. Then review your options! Once you find some programs you think sound promising, click on the program names to read more and request information. Then schedule a visit or start your application!
Sources: [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