Sociology is defined in different ways by different institutions. However different the wording of the definitions may be, key organizations such as the American Sociological Association and the British Sociological Association have described it, among other things, as “the science of society” or “the study of society”.
Encompassing topics from the behavior of humans as social beings to the patterns of human relationships and interaction, sociology provides humans understanding and insight on the different aspects of society as well as the other social sciences such as history, psychology and economics.
Highlighted courses and degrees in sociology
A significant number of institutions have general education requirements for most bachelor degree programs. General education courses include basic or introductory topics on sciences, history, mathematics, humanities and economics.
Undergoing a degree program in sociology generally means having to take courses in theory and research of different topics in sociology, cultures, geography, and anthropology.
In the latter years of the program, a major project or thesis may be part of the requirement for completion of the degree. This usually involves extensive research and in some cases, field work.
Most universities provide specialization options for their students, either through optional modules or as a mandatory part of the degree program. Gaining a specialization is recommended because sociology is a broad field, although availability of specializations would also depend on the offerings of each university and the level of study.
Below is a short list of some specializations offered by institutions:
The accreditation of a degree usually depends on the country where the degree is awarded. In most cases, countries have their own accrediting systems for universities, students and graduates.
Graduates of sociology degree programs can end up in different professional positions. As such, there is no universal licensing or certification that sociology graduates must obtain to be able to find a job in the field.
A degree in sociology can typically take around three to four years of full-time study. The exact period of time would depend on the university of your choice and the country wherein it is located. There are also options available of pursuing a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree program, which can take around five years.
Various degrees are available for sociology graduates at the master’s and doctorate level, involving intensive research, coursework and experience for candidates looking to deepen their knowledge of sociology. Further studies are important for those in or looking to get into specialized fields.
Like with most degree programs, entrance into a sociology degree program varies from institution to institution. For first year applicants, some universities may require applicants to take an entrance exam, while some will take into consideration national or standard exams. A number of universities also take into consideration advanced placement exams, while some consider transfer credits for post-secondary students or applicants.
High marks in different subjects or in standard exams are a good boost to an application. Various community-based and/or leadership experiences are also often taken into consideration. Some institutions also require a letter of intent or an application essay.
For a complete list of requirements, you are advised to check out or contact the institution you are interested in applying to.
If you do not meet the entry requirements you may want to consider a pathway course.
Visit our scholarships and funding section to read more about funding your studies.
The wide range of topics covered in sociology degree programs provides graduates of sociology with options in different fields and positions. Many graduates choose to take positions in public institutions or government departments. Positions available range from community development worker to social researcher. Those who cherish working with different people from various walks of life can look into career paths as social workers and youth workers.
With the highly transferrable skills the graduates of sociology degree programs gain during their studies (such as research skills, perceptiveness, reasoning skills, analytical and statistical methods and techniques, collaborative attitude and sense of responsibility), they are able to choose positions that are not directly related to social work. For example, UC San Diego’s graduates who majored in Sociology went on to the following entry-level jobs: "operations planner for a defense firm, program assistant for a social service agency, teacher, programmer, production coordinator for a publishing firm, social worker for a large, local health agency, communications technician for a telecommunications company, sales representative, analyst, and health intake counselor."
Find sociology programs available in the following countries.
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