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Choosing Sociology as Your
Undergraduate Major
Slides will automatically advance every 15 seconds
What is Sociology?
Sociology is the study of social life, social change, and the social
causes and consequences of human behavior. Sociologists
investigate the structure of groups, organizations, and societies,
and how people interact within these contexts. Since all human
behavior is social, the subject matter of sociology ranges from the
intimate family to the hostile mob; from organized crime to
religious cults; from the divisions of race, gender and social class
to the shared beliefs of a common culture; and from the sociology
of work to the sociology of sports. In fact, few fields have such
broad scope and relevance for research, theory, and application of
Famous people who majored in sociology...
Martin Luther King
Ronald Reagan
Dan Akroyd
Robin Williams
Joe Theisman
Regis Philbin
Jesse Jackson
Saul Bellow
Dinah Shore
”Dr. Ruth” (Westheimer)
Ahmad Rashad
Pete Seeger
James Blunt
Skills of Successful Sociology Majors
Ability to recognize trends and patterns.
Sociologists must develop a keen eye for detail and a
gift for spotting relationships between pieces of
information. By cultivating patterns from otherwise
abstract data, sociologists can break through
puzzling roadblocks during research assignments.
Following these trails can lead to important
discoveries and understandings for sociologists
throughout their careers. To grow their talent for
uncovering these relationships, many sociology
programs expose students to new courses in game
theory and traditional classes in art. Viewing data
from unusual points of view not only breaks up the
monotony of data analysis, but it usually results in the
recognition of important patterns.
Skills of Successful Sociology Majors
Ability to create concise reports and essays.
Whether reporting to superiors on the results of
research or developing new funding proposals,
sociologists rely frequently on their ability to write
effective reports. Sociology students learn how to
modulate their writing for different audiences. When
preparing reports for peers and colleagues, they can
use industry shorthand and insider terminology to
keep memos and files brief. When writing external
reports for funding agencies, or politicians, or the
media, they translate that jargon into easily digestible
nuggets of information. Source:
Skills of Successful Sociology Majors
Strong critical thinking skills. Sociology degree
programs challenge students to build their analytical
skills through a series of increasingly challenging
assignments over the course of their studies.
Sociology majors spend time in introductory courses
examining the techniques that professionals use to
investigate theories. As they move through
intermediate and advanced courses, they start to use
those techniques on their own research projects. By
the time they near graduation, sociology majors use
their keen critical thinking skills to solve problems and
identify opportunities in their own research.
Skills of Successful Sociology Majors
Oral presentation skills. In addition to powerful
writing skills, sociology majors must develop the
ability to speak comfortably and clearly in front of
clouds. This skill particularly benefits students who
intend to pursue careers in academia. Meanwhile,
sociology professionals who work in the private
sector also utilize this skill when presenting
information to government agencies, funding panels,
or audiences at professional conferences.
Skills of Successful Sociology Majors
Interpersonal communications skills. Regardless
of their career paths, sociology majors will rely on
strong person-to-person communications skills
throughout their working lives. Students learn early in
their degree programs to conduct effective interviews
with key subjects. In addition, sociologists often work
on teams where long hours and tight deadlines can
lead to friction between colleagues. Quality sociology
degree programs prepare students for future
challenges by creating realistic scenarios in which
students can improve their interpersonal
Skills of Successful Sociology Majors
Develop skills in modern data and analysis
technology. As with many other careers, modern
technology and computers have revolutionized
sociology. During the course of their degree
programs, students learn to manipulate data using
complex pieces of software and hardware. By
running research data through sophisticated tools,
sociology professionals can spot trends sooner and
generate results faster. Source:
Skills of Successful Sociology Majors
Grant writing skills. Many sociologists must
compete for funding from government agencies, from
private funders, and from academic boards. Skilled
professionals learn to apply their strong writing skills
to create attractive grant applications. By stating clear
goals and framing up outcomes that advance the
agendas or the missions of funding bodies,
sociologists can collect vital funds that allow them to
continue making breakthroughs in research and
understanding of human interaction.
Skills of Successful Sociology Majors
Research skills. Sociology majors learn to use all of
the resources at their disposal to chase down leads
and build sets of information for analysis. Many
sociology degree programs introduce students to the
tricks of efficient library research early in their
academic careers. Bolstered by fast searches on the
Internet, sociology majors learn to digest catalogued
findings for use in their original research projects. By
the time they graduate, students learn to conduct
personal interviews and mass surveys in order to
generate their own sets of raw data for analysis.
Skills of Successful Sociology Majors
Management skills. Many professional sociologists
rely on the help of support personnel and other team
members to conduct research and to move projects
forward. During their degree programs, students
learn to blend the best practices from the business
world with the traditions of research professionals. By
the time students earn their sociology degrees, they
gain the talent to motivate the different kinds of
specialists that will help them accomplish major
breakthroughs during their careers.
Skills of Successful Sociology Majors
Planning and organizational skills. Because most
sociologists work on time-sensitive projects, students
learn how to plan and arrange their tasks to save
time and to work as efficiently as possible. Many
colleges and universities provide introductory courses
in time management and task coordination as part of
their core programs. These skills reap huge rewards
later in a student's career, when they must marshal
scarce resources under tight deadlines. Source:
Source: US Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data
Systems. Retrieved from (October 26, 2006)
Source: American Sociological Association
What can I do with a BA in sociology?
The undergraduate degree provides a strong liberal arts
preparation for entry level positions throughout the business,
social service, and government worlds. Employers look for people
with the skills that an undergraduate education in sociology
Since its subject matter is intrinsically fascinating, sociology
offers valuable preparation for careers in journalism, politics,
public relations, business, or public administration--fields that
involve investigative skills and working with diverse groups.
Many students choose sociology because they see it as a broad
liberal arts base for professions such as law, education, medicine,
social work, and counseling. Sociology provides a rich fund of
knowledge that directly pertains to each of these fields.
A BA in sociology is excellent preparation for future graduate
work in sociology in order to become a professor, researcher, or
applied sociologist.
Expanding Field
Sociology provides many distinctive perspectives on the world,
generating new ideas and critiquing the old. The field also offers a
range of research techniques that can be applied to virtually any
aspect of social life: street crime and delinquency, corporate
downsizing, how people express emotions, welfare or education
reform, how families differ and flourish, or problems of peace and
war. Because sociology addresses the most challenging issues of
our time, it is a rapidly expanding field whose potential is
increasingly tapped by those who craft policies and create
programs. Sociologists understand social inequality, patterns of
behavior, forces for social change and resistance, and how social
systems work.
Job Prospects for the BA Graduate
There are many directions you can take with a degree sociology.
A few are listed below.
- social services: in rehabilitation, case management, group
work with youth or the elderly, recreation, or administration
- community work: in fund-raising for social service
organizations, nonprofits, child-care or community
development agencies, or environmental groups
- corrections: in probation, parole, or other criminal justice
- business: in advertising, marketing and consumer research,
insurance, real estate, personnel work, training, or sales
- college settings: in admissions, alumni relations, or
placement offices
- health services: in family planning, substance abuse,
rehabilitation counseling, health planning, hospital
admissions, and insurance companies
- publishing, journalism, and public relations: in writing,
research, and editing
- government services: in federal, state, and local government
jobs in such areas as transportation, housing, agriculture, and
- teaching: in elementary and secondary schools, in
conjunction with appropriate teacher certification.
Sociology and Salaries
As of summer 2005, “Psychology and sociology graduates also
posted large increases; the average offer to psychology graduates
rose 7.4 percent to $29,861, and the average offer to sociology
grads increased 7.1 percent to $31,798.”
What can I do with an MA or PhD degree in
With advanced degrees, the more likely it is that a job will have the
title sociologist, but many opportunities exist--the diversity of
sociological careers ranges much further than what you might
find under "S" in the Sunday newspaper employment ads. Many
jobs outside of academia do not necessarily carry the specific title
of sociologist :
- Sociologists become high school teachers or faculty in
colleges and universities, advising students, conducting
research, and publishing their work. Over 3000 colleges offer
sociology courses.
- Sociologists enter the corporate, non-profit, and government
worlds as directors of research, policy analysts, consultants,
human resource managers, and program managers.
- Practicing sociologists with advanced degrees may be called
research analysts, survey researchers, gerontologists,
statisticians, urban planners, community developers,
criminologists, or demographers.
- Some MA and PhD sociologists obtain specialized training to
become counselors, therapists, or program directors in social
service agencies.