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Sociology Major Overview

Curious about how people interact, both on the micro and macro levels? If so, sociology may be a great major for you. Sociology allows  you to study human interactions at every level. These interactions can range from two strangers waiting in line together to globalization in the modern day. To learn more about sociology, what it entails, and what type of jobs you can get with a sociology degree, keep on reading!

What is a sociology major?

Great question! A sociology major studies humans, their behavior, and interactions. As mentioned before, they study such topics on both the micro and macro levels, meaning that they explore interactions between individuals as well as those between different countries and cultures. They also focus on more than the present day, often going back and researching history, societies, and civilizations. And, as with many social science majors, sociology majors will learn how to ask questions, conduct research, and analyze their results. They then use their findings to address related issues and real-world problems they’ve identified. With their research, they hope to create changes to and improve social processes and problems, such as those in families, religion, and the health care system. 

With that said, if you’re familiar with the fields of psychology and anthropology, sociology might seem a little similar. While sociology definitely overlaps with those two majors, there are still some differences between them all. To find out more about psychology and anthropology, check out our guides:

Coursework to expect

Given sociology’s large focus on research, those who choose to major in sociology should expect to take multiple courses on research methods and analysis. These courses will help them develop their research techniques, observation methods, and teach them how to create surveys and questionnaires of their own. Besides such research classes, however, sociology majors will also take classes in which they learn about specific societies, cultures, populations, and societal problems.

Below are some potential courses you may encounter as a sociology major:

  • Those focusing on specific race/ethnic groups and their relations
  • Family Interactions
  • The Aging Population
  • Sex and Gender
  • Drugs & Crime
  • Effects of Media
  • Impact of Religion
  • City vs. Suburban Living

Opportunities after graduation

Despite (somewhat) popular opinion, sociology majors actually have many career options post-graduation. Your career path may not be as clear as someone who majored in engineering or computer science. This just means that you have many options to explore (and will have to carve out your own path given those options)!

Jobs you can get with a Sociology degree

As it turns out, those who study sociology go on to work in a wide variety of fields, including academia, the government, business, social services, health services, and more. This is because the critical thinking, reasoning, and problem solving skills you learn while studying sociology make you attractive to employers – even if you didn’t study the exact field you’re expected to be working in. What exactly are some of those jobs you can get, though? Let’s find out.

1. Sociologist

Primarily serving as researchers, sociologists create research projects in which they test theories about social issues or phenomena, collect data from such research, and analyze the data – drawing conclusions from their results. They then present their data to others (often other researchers), in the form of reports, articles, or presentations. Typically, one must have either a master’s degree or a Ph.D to become a sociologist.

2020 Median Pay: $86,110/year
Projected Growth (2019-2029): 5%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

2. Lawyer

Lawyers both guide and represent individuals, businesses, government agencies, and all other types of organizations on legal issues or disputes. Specifically, they communicate with those involved in the case (clients, colleagues, judges, etc.) and use their knowledge of the law to support their defendant’s case as best they can. During a trial, they present their side both in writing and verbally to their clients, the judges, and jury (if in a criminal case), arguing on the behalf of their client.

2020 Median Pay: $126,930/year
Projected Growth (2019-2029): 9%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

3. Social Worker

Social workers help people solve the problems in their daily lives, including issues in their homes, communities, and other local environments. To do so, they assess their clients’ needs, support networks, and situations, helping them face challenges in a way that will best fit them. Social workers also respond to crisis situations, such as child abuse or mental health crises. They make sure to follow up with their patients, checking for improvement and providing additional help if need be. While some social workers only hold a bachelor’s degree, most hold a master’s degree and have at least 2 years of post-master’s experience in a clinical setting. Clinical social workers must also be licensed in the state they work in. 

2020 Median Pay: $51,760/year
Projected Growth (2019-2029): 12%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

4. Management Analysts

Like many other jobs in finance, management analysts recommend ways that businesses can improve. They are, however, unique in that they focus specifically on how companies can increase their efficiency. Gathering and analyzing data on finances, revenue, and other related measures, they use this information to develop and recommend solutions to problems or new systems to help solve them. To become a management analyst, one typically needs a bachelor’s degree and some years of related work experience.

2020 Median Pay: $87,660 per year
Projected Growth (2019-2029): 11% (much faster than average) 

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Advanced Degrees You Can Pursue with a Sociology Degree

After graduating with a bachelor’s in sociology, many students decide to pursue further graduate or professional schooling. While graduate, law, and medical school are some of the most popular options for sociology majors, here are just a few of the advanced degrees you can pursue with a sociology degree:

  • Master of Sociology
  • Master of Social Work
  • M.D. (Doctor of Medicine) 
  • Master of Education
  • Juris Doctor (the standard degree for lawyers)

Frequently asked questions about sociology majors

Is it better to major in psychology or sociology?

Whether majoring in psychology or sociology is a better choice ultimately depends on what you’re interested in. If you’re more intrigued by the human mind and how people think rather than how individuals and societies interact, you may want to consider psychology. On the other hand, if you find that learning about history and societies throughout time is more interesting than the inner workings of the mind, maybe consider sociology! This is just a very simple description of the differences between the two subjects, though. If you wish to learn more about the psychology major as a whole (and compare it to sociology), we recommend checking out our Psychology Major Overview!

Is it hard to get a job with a sociology degree?

Not necessarily! Given that sociology majors learn a wide range of useful skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, and writing while in college, those who major in sociology open themselves up to a wide variety of career options post-graduation. As a result of their skills being useful in many settings, sociology majors can enter a variety of different fields, including community and social services, business, academia, health services, government services, teaching, and more! Alternatively, after graduating from undergrad, they can choose to go to graduate, law, or even medical school. These are often popular choices for sociology majors, allowing them to pursue even more possible professions, and figure out what field they may want to go into. 

For more information on what you can do after graduating, the University of Notre Dame has compiled this helpful guide to the many career options you have with a sociology degree.

How do I know if a major is right for me? 

Knowing whether or not you’re majoring in the right subject is tricky. Even after being in college for multiple semesters or years, it is not uncommon for students to wonder whether they truly enjoy their major. However, many students also love their majors, and end up sticking with the same one for their entire college experience. So, if you’re thinking about majoring in sociology, ask yourself these questions first:

  • Are you curious about how individuals and societies interact?
  • Do you value having many options (career-wise)?
  • Are you passionate about societal issues?
  • Do you enjoy conducting research?

If you answered “yes” to a majority of these questions, then sociology may be a great fit for you. We wish you the best, and good luck in college!

P.S.: If you’re still not sure about what major to pursue, you can always check out How to Pick a Major!