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Best Sociology Degree Colleges in the U.S. 2017

Sociology is the scientific study of human behavior and interaction, which is greatly influenced by religious, ethical, and social beliefs. A degree in sociology can lead to endless employment opportunities in the following areas: criminal justice, education, research and planning, government, business and industry, and human services. Job titles include teacher, counselor, administrator, manager, and analyst. Sociologists prepare reports; examine how social influences affect different individuals and groups; design research projects to test social issue theories; and analyze and draw conclusions from data collected through surveys, observations, and interviews.

Vital skills include critical-thinking, communication, and problem-solving. Sociology majors devote a lot of time to writing and research. Instruction includes social theory, race and ethnicity, humanities, sociological research methods, social organization and structure, dynamics of social change, family structures, social deviance and control, and urban sociology. Students also have the option of specializing in a wide range of topics: gender, poverty, crime, and education are just a few.

The 2010 median pay for sociologists was $72,360, but the entry-level education was at the master's degree level. There are two types of sociology master's degree programs: traditional programs and applied, clinical, and professional programs.

The Best Sociology Colleges of 2019

Rank School Name Location Description
1 California State University-Northridge Northridge, CA
california state university northridge

The CSUN Sociology Department was started in 1958 and offers undergraduate sociology majors four different degree options. There is a general sociology degree, or students may choose to concentrate their studies on either criminology and criminal justice, social welfare and social justice, or work and society. In addition, the 21 full-time faculty members and 31 part-time instructors are involved in a wide range of research including Native Americans, computer-assisted learning, cyberspace, education, emotions, immigration, marriage and the family, mass media, migration, music, multiracial identity, reality shows, road rage, student evaluations, and terrorism. The department also offers a minor in sociology or human sexuality. In addition to advanced studies in sociological theory and research methods, the intensive two-year M.A program offers specialized studies in a number of areas including: culture, criminology, gender, sexuality, political sociology, race/ethnicity, social movements, sociology of education, immigration, labor, social psychology, globalization, and the sociology of work. There is no PhD program at CSUN.

2 University of California-Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA

The UCLA Department of Sociology was founded in 1948, and boasts a faculty of internationally renowned scholars and award-winning instructors who are addressing a wide range of topics from the dynamics of social interaction to the impact of globalization. The Student Research Program (SRP) gives students the opportunity to do research and work individually with participating faculty members. Juniors and seniors are able to participate in the Social Enterprise Academy (SEA) a two-quarter course offered by the Division of Social Sciences that mentors non-profit organizations in developing new social ventures to create earned income opportunities.

In addition to non-profit experience the SEA provides students with market research, consulting, teamwork, networking, and public speaking skills. Not sure what you want to do after graduation? The upper division Careers in Sociology course helps students learn about the many career opportunities available to sociology majors and teaches students to use their interests, needs and skills to make effective career choices. The department accepts applications for the PhD program only, however students may be awarded an M.A. on the way to being awarded a PhD.

3 University of California-Santa Barbara Santa Barbara, CA

UCSB has one of the largest sociology programs in the country, and is a leader in the areas of gender, sexualities, and feminist theory, the sociology of culture, race and ethnicity, Latina and Latino studies, globalization and its effects, social movements, conversation analysis and social networks. While the faculty is well known for its research, there are also ample opportunities for undergraduates to hone their research skills, either individually with professor supervision, or by participating with a faculty member on their research. There is also an honors program available which gives students the opportunity of graduating with “Distinction in the Major.” Applicants to the graduate program are not able to only pursue an M.A. degree, but are admitted with the intention that their ultimate goal is to be awarded a PhD degree. However, this is dependent upon successful completion of the M.A. requirements and defense of an M.A. thesis.

4 University of California-Riverside Riverside, CA

The undergraduate curriculum at UC Riverside teaches students about a wide range of sociological topics including ethnicity, race and class inequality, gender, social stratification, sociology of education, the city and urban problems, the environment, sociology of religion, crime and deviance and global social change. Not only can you choose between a B.A. and B.S. in sociology, you can also choose between majors in sociology/administrative studies, and sociology/law and society. The graduate program does not offer a free-standing master’s degree, but offers a M.A. degree as part of the required progress towards a PhD. Candidates must choose two areas of specialization from the following: criminology and socio-legal studies, gender studies, organizations and institutions, political economy and global social change, race and class inequality, social psychology, and sociological theory.

5 California State University-Fullerton Fullerton, CA

Founded in 1959, the Department of Sociology at California State University, Fullerton boasts an impressive student to teacher ratio of 18-to-1. Sociology majors examine individual, community-based, institutional, and ideological causes, consequences and intersections of various social inequalities and social stratification systems. While sociology undergraduate majors are not required to select a concentration, there are three available: social inequalities, sociology of deviance and crime, and health and social welfare.

The faculty of nationally and internationally recognized scholars conduct academic research on a wide variety of subjects including race and ethnic relations, education, demography, gender and sexualities, crime and deviance, health and illness, economic sociology, political sociology, religion, and migration and globalization. CSUF also accepts graduate applications for a Master of Arts in sociology that offers an opportunity to broaden one's knowledge of society, strengthen skills of sociological analysis and conduct research in depth in an area of particular interest. Degrees are awarded through either a project, thesis or comprehensive exam track, and while the university does not offer a PhD program, it is recommended that those who want to pursue a doctoral degree choose the thesis option.

6 SUNY at Albany Albany, NY

Sociology is the third largest major in the College of Arts & Sciences at SUNY at Albany. The department is known for its studies of demography, crime and deviance, family and gender, political, economic and historical sociology, cultural sociology, urban sociology, migration, and race and ethnicity. As an undergraduate you can choose to apply for a combination B.A./M.A degree or B.A./M.P.A. degree at the beginning of your junior year. The graduate school accepts applications for an M.A. degree, but it is not a separate program from the PhD program. Since there are only 12-15 students accepted into the graduate program each year, if there are two equally qualified applicants those applying for a PhD are accepted over M.A. applicants. The sociology department is also affiliated with a number of research centers including The Center for Social and Demographic Analysis, Lewis Mumford Center for Comparative Urban and Regional Research, The Institute for Research on Women, The Center for Women in Government and Civil Society and Hindelang Criminal Justice Research Center.

7 California State University-Long Beach Long Beach, CA

Students looking to get their Bachelor of Arts in sociology from California State University, Long Beach have four different concentrations available to them: deviance and social control, interaction and group relations, sociology of health and medicine, and social change and global issues. “Through coursework, internships and faculty mentoring of student research the Department encourages a commitment to social change and social justice based on an appreciation of social and intellectual diversity and an awareness of social inequality,” explains the Department of Sociology Chairperson, Dr. Kristine Zentgraf, on the CSULB website. While there is no PhD program available at CSULB, there is a Master of Arts program in applied sociology that is structured around two concentrations, the sociology of health and medicine or community development and social change, along with a community-based scholar internship which gives students the opportunity to use their classroom knowledge and skills in the real-world setting of a local or regional community organization.

8 University of California-Berkeley Berkeley, CA
UC Berkeley

The Department of Sociology at Berkeley was established in 1946 and in the decades that followed was responsible for creating and developing sub disciplines of sociology including symbolic interaction and deviance, sociology of law, political sociology, industrial sociology, historical and comparative, social theory and collective behavior, religion, culture. Undergraduate courses range from large lectures to intimate seminars, with plenty of opportunities for research that incorporate other social sciences and professional schools on campus. Not only can you get a PhD in sociology at Cal, there is also a PhD program in sociology and demography. There is no M.A. program available, but those accepted into the PhD program can receive their M.A. on the way to being awarded a PhD. Outside of required courses the sociology department also sponsors six undergraduate student organizations. In addition there is the Berkeley Sociology Forum, an intellectual center that addresses issues of a comparative, global, historical, theoretical and methodological nature.

9 University of Washington-Seattle Campus Seattle, WA
UW Seattle

The Department of Sociology at University of Washington was founded in the 1920’s and boasts a faculty of five departmental members that have served as presidents of the American Sociological Association, and a student to teacher ratio of 21 to 1. The department has a strong commitment to research and in addition to being known for research in institutional analysis (which includes comparative historical sociology, economic sociology, social movements, ethnic conflict and sociology of religion), sociology of gender and sexuality, and theory, the department is affiliated with a number of interdisciplinary centers where research is done on demography and ecology (Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology), family and kinship (Center on the Family), research methodology (Center for Statistics in the Social Sciences), deviance and social control (Comparative Law and Social Studies), and the West Coast Poverty Center.

Undergraduates are able to get real-world experience through three different types of practicum that give students a better idea of what they can do with their degree post-graduation: an education practicum, an applied research practicum, or a community and civic internship program. The University of Washington sociology department also accepts graduate applications for both M.A. and PhD degrees, with more than 300 PhD’s in sociology having been conferred by the department since the degree was first awarded in 1932.

10 Columbia University in the City of New York New York, NY

Columbia is a perfect destination for anyone interested in sociology, with the department playing a leading role in the growth of sociology and the social sciences after World War II. Being located in New York City gives students the perfect locale to observe people from all over the world, how they relate, and the varied social issues they face. Some areas of research taking place at the university include cultural sociology, economic sociology, ethnography, globalization, health and population, historical sociology, inequality, organizations, political sociology, race, ethnicity and migration, science, knowledge and technology, and urban poverty and city. You are able to receive a free-standing master’s degree in sociology through an intensive, one-year program that combines academic training with research, much of which takes place in the urban environment of the city. PhD candidates are expected to apply for grants, publish articles and/or books, and present their work at professional meetings.

List of Sociology Schools in the U.S.

Degree Levels
  • Associate's
  • Bachelor's
  • Certificates
  • Doctoral
  • Master's
Program Length
  • Less than 2 years (below associate)
  • At least 2 but less than 4 years
  • Four or more years
Control Type
  • Private for-profit
  • Private not-for-profit
  • Public
School Logo School Name Average tuition Student Teacher Ratio Enrolled Students
California State University-Northridge California State University-Northridge Northridge, CA
32 : 1 41,548
University of California-Los Angeles University of California-Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA
12 : 1 41,908
University of California-Santa Barbara University of California-Santa Barbara Santa Barbara, CA
24 : 1 23,497
University of California-Riverside University of California-Riverside Riverside, CA
24 : 1 21,385
California State University-Fullerton California State University-Fullerton Fullerton, CA
30 : 1 38,948
SUNY at Albany SUNY at Albany Albany, NY
22 : 1 17,178
California State University-Long Beach California State University-Long Beach Long Beach, CA
27 : 1 37,446
University of California-Berkeley University of California-Berkeley Berkeley, CA
21 : 1 38,189
University of Washington-Seattle Campus University of Washington-Seattle Campus Seattle, WA
12 : 1 45,408
Columbia University in the City of New York Columbia University in the City of New York New York, NY
7 : 1 28,086
University of California-Irvine University of California-Irvine Irvine, CA
17 : 1 30,836
University of California-Davis University of California-Davis Davis, CA
15 : 1 35,186
Harvard University Harvard University Cambridge, MA
14 : 1 29,652
Yale University Yale University New Haven, CT
5 : 1 12,385
Duke University Duke University Durham, NC
5 : 1 15,984
Stanford University Stanford University Stanford, CA
6 : 1 16,980
Princeton University Princeton University Princeton, NJ
9 : 1 8,138
University of California-Santa Cruz University of California-Santa Cruz Santa Cruz, CA
27 : 1 17,868
University of Pennsylvania University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA
12 : 1 24,876
The University of Texas at Austin The University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX
18 : 1 50,950
University of Southern California University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
16 : 1 43,401
University of Chicago University of Chicago Chicago, IL
7 : 1 15,391
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI
7 : 1 43,651
Cornell University Cornell University Ithaca, NY
12 : 1 21,904
University of Notre Dame University of Notre Dame Notre Dame, IN
11 : 1 12,292

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