Is a Master’s in Sociology Worth It?

In this article, students will learn about the courses and areas of study available when pursuing a master’s degree in sociology. They will also find information on potential careers, salaries, and projected growth.

Schools offering

Sociology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

How to Earn a master’s degree in Sociology

Master's degree in Sociology

A master’s degree in sociology may be a good fit for students who are looking to advance their careers across several industries or those considering a doctoral program. Programs often offer concentrations or tracks of study for students who wish to narrow their studies to fit their career goals, and programs usually take two years to complete. Common courses may include:

Sociological theory

Courses on sociological theory provide historical context and contemporary theory. This course is a foundational class that provides an advanced conceptual base for students at the graduate level. This course is often taken in the first semester, as it provides context for further study of research methods.

Sociological research methods

Sociological research methods courses introduce quantitative and qualitative research models for the study of social science. This provides a foundation for the construction of research plans, data collection, analysis, and evaluation. Courses in research methods also give students an ethical foundation for study design and interaction with research subjects.

Qualitative Research methods

Qualitative research methods are particularly important in the social sciences. Students in this course will learn about qualitative research methods, including subject observation, intensive interviewing, and the specific types of research design used in sociology. Students also learn how to code and analyze data and how to compose a qualitative research report.


To effectively conduct sociological research, master’s students take statistics courses that cover methods of data analysis. Students learn how to use quantitative data and draw meaning from results. Methods of analysis are also useful for students when reading the work of published social scientists for other courses.

Sociology of the Family

Sociology courses focused on the study of the family examine marriage and family units from numerous perspectives. Students look at the family through ethnic, cultural, and racial lenses and explore the impacts of many factors on family life. In this course, students look at the problems that American families face, both on the micro and macro levels.

Urban Society

Courses on urban life and society examine how cities take shape and impact social life. Students learn theories that apply to urban life and explore how urbanization, suburbanization, and industrialization impact life and society and create inequities and unique subcultures. These courses also cover ethnic segregation and gentrification, as well as other impacts on urban life and the lives of those living in cities.

Directed Readings

At the graduate level, students are often able to take directed independent readings to explore their topics of interest. These are overseen by a faculty mentor and allow students to explore the existing literature on topics not covered by the regular courses of their program. Directed readings offer flexibility and customization of programs and can be particularly applicable for students seeking a master’s in sociology, as course offerings may not cover a student’s particular interests or support niche career goals.


Many programs offer a thesis track, which allows students to conduct their own research and work with faculty mentors. A thesis is the cumulative experience of the master’s in sociology program and synthesizes the theoretical and practical knowledge that students have gained during their program. Students considering a doctoral program should consider programs that offer a thesis option, as it provides a foundation for further study.

Careers in Sociology


Sociologists study the way humans behave, interact, and organize in a variety of settings and circumstances. Sociologists conduct research and analyze findings and collaborate with other social scientists, those who make policy, or other groups that utilize sociological findings.


A sociology professor works with college and university students at the undergraduate or graduate level to introduce theories and practices used in the field. Someone with a master’s in sociology could work in postsecondary education as a professor or researcher, depending on the type of position and institution.

A social science research assistant can work in a variety of settings, performing laboratory work, conducting survey research, or undertaking other types of quantitative or qualitative research. Research assistants prepare data and results for publication and work with other researchers and often university faculty members.

Social workers help individuals, families, and communities cope with hardships in their everyday lives and provide valuable services, like connecting people to important social services and responding to crises such as mental health emergencies and child abuse. There are several different types of social work positions, including healthcare, school, and child and family social work.

Job TitleMedian Salary (2018)*Job Growth (2018-2028)*
Sociology Professor$74,1406%
Social Science Research Assistant$46,6409%
Social Worker$49,47011%

Source: *US Bureau of Labor Statistics/Occupational Outlook Handbook

As you can see, there are many options for courses and areas of concentration for someone seeking a master’s in sociology. This field is growing quickly, and the growth projections for careers in sociology are higher than average. If you are interested in sociology and the methods, theories, and research that can help improve the lives of individuals, families, and communities, a master’s degree in sociology may be a good fit.


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