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What Does a Sociology Major Study?

By S. McCumber
Updated Jan 26, 2024
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Sociology is the study of human society and how it is shaped by and affects individuals and groups. Someone seeking a sociology major will study a broad range of topics, including psychology, economics, criminal law, ethics, research methodology and mathematics. After two years of general studies, a sociology major may choose to concentrate on a particular aspect of sociology, such as criminal law or public administration.

A sociology major is normally required to take several fundamental classes that give a broad overview of the main branches of sociology. These courses might include theories of society, research methodology and quantitative analysis. The field of sociology is research intensive, and students can expect to study statistics and how to interpret data. A heavy emphasis will likely be placed on research protocols for both classroom and field work.

Several classes in psychology are usually required of the sociology major. Common courses include sexuality, gender differences and bias, and deviancy. Many sociology students choose to focus on a career in counseling and will take many courses in psychology. A sociology major interested in a career in counseling may choose to pursue a master’s degree.

Criminal law is also a popular concentration pursued by the sociology major. Many who seek careers in law enforcement earn degrees in sociology. Typical jobs available to a sociology major include law enforcement agent, probation officer, correctional officer and public defender. As such, courses of study might include public administration, punishment, ethics and the criminal justice system.

Many public administrators who work in various capacities for government entities have degrees in sociology. They will have taken courses in urban development, race relations, economics, immigration, and poverty and wealth. It is becoming more common for those seeking a career in public administration to study environmental issues related to society and governing.

Teaching is also a popular career field for the sociology major. Those with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in sociology often find work as secondary teachers who teach topics such as social studies or geography. Their broad course of study qualifies sociology majors to teach a wide variety of subjects at the grade school and secondary levels.

Many sociology majors are interested in research and teaching at the university level. A doctoral degree in philosophy (Ph.D.), which may take up to eight years to achieve, is normally required to teach at the university level. University professors normally conduct research in their field along with their teaching duties, and sociology majors have a strong background in research methods and data analysis.

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Discussion Comments
By SteamLouis — On Jul 03, 2014

Those interested in becoming social studies teachers should try to take a variety of different courses during their sociology major like sociology and government, sociology and religion and sociology and psychology. That's what I did and I feel well prepared.

By literally45 — On Jul 02, 2014

@bear78-- I agree with you.

I'm a sociology major and I took some great courses in school. I had an interest in foreign languages as well, so I concentrated on the sociology of languages.

I think that my education has been very helpful. Sociology majors tend to feel competent in a variety of areas because sociology is a comprehensive field that gives the option on concentrating on pretty much anything. Any issue that has an effect on sociology can be an area of interest for sociologists.

But it's also true that if the economy is not doing well, there may not be many jobs specifically in this field. Sociologists can work in many fields, but experience is also important. I personally work for the public relations department of a bank right now. There is no doubt that my sociology degree helped me get here, but it's not exactly what I had studied to do.

By bear78 — On Jul 02, 2014

It sounds like sociology is a good major because it covers a variety of different topics that are applicable to various fields. Understanding society and how society is important for success in various fields and positions.

But I can't help but wonder how many sociology graduates actually work in their field after graduation? I don't think that this is a degree that people should pay a lot of money for.

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