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Sociology studies human society—the development, structure, and functioning of it. The way people interact with each other, the community, and with society in general all come under scrutiny when earning a sociology degree. With so much under the umbrella of sociological studies, it’s not surprising that it touches on many other subjects, including, but certainly not limited to, anthropology, philosophy, and linguistics. You can earn a sociology degree at the associate’s, baccalaureate, master’s, and doctorate level. 

Often times, sociology degrees lead to a career in social work. For that, a bachelor’s degree is often required, plus certification, or a master’s degree in clinical social work. To become a sociologist, most of whom work in academia or in research and development, a PhD is typically required, though some jobs can be obtained with a master’s. While those are the two most obvious uses of a sociology degree, there are a number of other career options for graduates. 

Associate Level

An associate’s in sociology will typically take two years to complete attending full time. On top of the core courses required by the institution, sociology students will take classes about religions throughout the world, literature, art history, social inequality, and deviance. An associate’s of art is more commonly offered, but some institutions may offer an associate’s of science in sociology degree, which may be more beneficial for positions in research or analysis. It will require more math and science classes, and possibly a computer course. 

Career paths for graduates with an associate in sociology: Drug/Alcohol Counselor, Preschool Counselor, Domestic Violence Advocate, Human Resources, Case Management Aide, Social Work Assistant, Community Outreach Worker, Probation Officer, Sales Associate, Marketer.

The average salary at this level of education in sociology is around $30,000.


A bachelor’s in sociology will typically take four years to complete and is offered at most institutions. The curriculum at this level of education will expand to include exploration of political systems and societies, behavioral psychology, crime and violence, and race, gender, and social structures. The opportunity to focus on a particular sector of sociology work, such as in mental health outreach or public service administration, will likely be available. 

There are two degree types to choose from: a bachelor’s of art in sociology or a bachelor’s of science in sociology. The more popular of the two is  BA, which provides a multidisciplinary liberal arts study. A BS is mostly beneficial if the end goal is research or statistics-based. 

Career paths for graduates with a baccalaureate in sociology: Community Development Worker, Advice Worker, Social Researcher, Family Support Worker, International Aid/Development Worker, Probation Officer, Public Relations Officer, Charity Fundraiser, Human Resources Officer, Survey Researcher.

The average salary for individuals with a bachelor’s in sociology is $55,000.

Master Level

To claim the title “sociologist,” a master’s degree is a requirement. Usually taking between one and three years, this level of education often leads to a career in administrative leadership, public research, or working in a public office. The curriculum will be heavily influenced by the chosen area of focus. Examples of focuses at this level include: sociology and economics, sociology and psychology, sociology and race. 

Career paths for graduates with a master’s in sociology include: Sociologist, Public Policy Maker, Politician, Sociological Research, Case Manager, Human Services Educator, College Instructor in Sociology, Geriatric Social Worker, School Social Worker.

Pay varies widely between $43,900 and $72,000. 

Doctorate Level

Mostly an indicator of wanting to remain in academia, a PhD in Sociology is the highest level of education in this field, the terminal degree. Taking anywhere between three and seven years to complete, the curriculum will drill down into a very specific topic within sociology that will be rigorously studied, ultimately resulting in a new insight. PhD degrees are often researched only for those interested in teaching at the highest levels or leading important research. 

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