Best Sociology Degree Colleges in the U.S. 2017

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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

The study of Sociology offers students the opportunity to develop a critical understanding of social processes and structures, so as to be able to live and work in our diverse global society and to apply the tools of social analysis to a broad range of professional, academic and community situations. 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. 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.

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 University of California-Irvine Irvine, CA

University of California-Irvine offers 4 Sociology Degree programs. It's a large public university in a mid sized city. In 2015, 263 students graduated in the study area of Sociology with students earning 241 Bachelor's degrees, 11 Doctoral degrees, and 11 Master's degrees.

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
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
Boston College Boston College Chestnut Hill, MA
15 : 1 14,354

Find Local Colleges Offering Sociology Degrees

Getting a Sociology Degree Online

Schools offering online Sociology degrees

Online Sociology degrees are available at a variety of different schools with as many as 166 degrees earned at the most popular school. Read more below about all schools that have offered online Sociology degrees. If you are interested learning more about getting a degree online, check out our page dedicated to online degree information.

School Name Certificate Associate's Bachelor's Master's Doctoral
Arizona State University-Tempe 0 0 166 0 0
Colorado State University-Pueblo 0 0 110 0 0
California State University-Chico 0 0 107 0 0
University of Central Florida 0 0 103 0 0
American Public University System 0 0 99 0 0
How many schools offer online Sociology degrees?
  • 1 Certificates
  • 22 Associate's
  • 54 Bachelor's
  • 4 Master's

What can you do with a Sociology Degree?

Sociology Careers Expected Job Growth (2014-2024)
Year Education administrators, all other Employment Human resources specialists Employment Sociologists Employment Counselors, all other Employment Public relations specialists Employment Executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants Employment
2015 37,950 484,190 2,590 31,340 242,190 772,140
2016 38,100 486,380 2,580 31,680 243,680 767,680
2017 38,250 488,570 2,570 32,020 245,170 763,220
2018 38,400 490,760 2,560 32,360 246,660 758,760
2019 38,550 492,950 2,550 32,700 248,150 754,300
2020 38,700 495,140 2,540 33,040 249,640 749,840
2021 38,850 497,330 2,530 33,380 251,130 745,380
2022 39,000 499,520 2,520 33,720 252,620 740,920
2023 39,150 501,710 2,510 34,060 254,110 736,460
2024 39,300 503,900 2,500 34,400 255,600 732,000

Sociology Major Career Outlook

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the number of people making their living as an actual sociologist in 2014 at 2,600, this is misleading, as the great thing about a sociology degree is that it is excellent preparation for a wide variety of jobs in many different industries. Sociology majors tend to work in positions where both relationships and the understanding of the culture and organization of social groups is important. In choosing the right school to pursue your sociology degree, students will want to ask themselves a few questions with their future career goals in mind. What kind of career do you want to pursue? Where do you see yourself in ten years? What kind of people do you want to work with? Since sociology majors can concentrate their studies in a variety of areas, answering these questions when choosing a sociology program will help narrow down what schools best fit your career goals.

Here you will find out more about jobs in education, criminal justice, business, human services, and government.

Sociology Career Legend
Education administrators, all other
Human resources specialists
Counselors, all other
Public relations specialists
Executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants
About this Data

*Sources for career information and data include the National Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data may vary depending on year.

Average annual salary for Sociology careers

  • $51,339 2005
  • $62,278 2010
  • $63,010 2015

What Sociology jobs are there?


Working in the education field is perfect for anyone with a sociology degree. While positions as a public school teacher requires further certification beyond a bachelor’s degree (varies from state to state), some private schools, technical schools, and adult continuing education programs do not. A master’s degree or Ph.D is usually required to teach at the community college level, while a Ph.D is needed to teach and research at four-year institutions. However, if you like the world of academia, but do not wish to become a teacher, there are plenty of positions available, at all different levels, in administration, counseling and student affairs. Most universities have a variety of ways to become involved on campus and get related experience through student leadership opportunities such as Resident Assistants, Peer Mentors or Orientation Leaders.

Job Possibilities

  • Career Counselor
  • College Admissions Officer
  • K-12 Teacher
  • Postsecondary Teacher
  • School Administrator

Criminal Justice

If you are a sociology major who knows they are interested in a job in the criminal justice world post-graduation, you will want to be sure to find a school that has a program that offers a concentration in criminology- the social science that focuses on the causes and prevention of crime and how criminal justice institutions function. Having learned how to examine trends in a wide variety of human behavior, people with a sociology degree are increasingly finding jobs working with detectives and investigators at organizations such as the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and local police departments. In addition, the ever increasing rise in the prison population has led to a need for employees with an understanding of a diverse group of people to work in court administration, corrections and as parole officers. Quite a number of criminal justice careers will require additional training, for instance if you are interested in become a law enforcement officer, attending the police academy and/or completing other physical, psychological and fitness tests is required.

Job Possibilities

  • Probation or Parole Officer
  • Corrections
  • Law Enforcement
  • Investigator
  • Paralegal


The one drawback many people point out about a sociology degree is that it does not prepare you for a job in a specific field. But possessing strong communication, analytical, writing and research skills is a perfect foundation for those wishing to enter the business world. With companies facing increased globalization and diversity in the workplace, employers realize the importance of hiring creative thinkers who have a wide breadth of knowledge and are able to work effectively with many types of people. Many companies look to hire people with this broad foundation for their management training programs as they are then then able to teach the specific business skills necessary for their particular industry. Marketing and public relations positions are perfect for graduates who have concentrated on research design, statistics and data analysis. If you are interested in pursuing an MBA, know that most programs take students who have graduated with a wide array of degrees and are more interested in your GPA and work experience during your undergraduate years.

Job Possibilities

  • Sales
  • Human Resources
  • Marketing
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Public Relations

Human Services

Having studied the institutions, organizations and groups that compose society, and the way individuals and groups relate to one another, those who graduate with a degree in sociology have a great foundation for a career in human services. Both non-profit and government social service agencies have a need for people who have an understanding of problems such as poverty, mental illness and aging, making those with a sociology degree well suited for employment in organizations that help to create programs and define policies that help both people in need and communities. On the administrative side many agencies have jobs for people who are interested in advocacy, programming, community relations, grant writing, fund raising, or management. Most states require additional licensure or certification beyond a bachelor’s degree for those interested in providing direct therapeutic services to people. With such a wide array of agencies out there, providing services ranging from elder care to adoption, rehabilitation to vocational services, there is always a need for volunteers, which is a great way to get experience while also figuring out what type of job or agency you may want to work for post-graduation.

Job Possibilities

  • Social Worker
  • Counselor
  • Recreational Leader
  • Non-profit Agencies
  • Case Management


Sociologists study both the good and the bad: family groups and religious organizations are examined in the same manner as crime and terrorism. Sociologists may gather data themselves through field work: interviews, surveys, and observations. They may also analyze data gleaned from government or other organizational reports. By crunching the numbers, as it were, sociologists look for patterns to our seemingly chaotic behaviors and, as they find them, make suggestions on how we can better handle situations that typically elicit such behaviors in the future. Because of this ability, they are in high demand from governmental organizations that craft legislation or set public policy. At numerous government organizations sociologists analyze patterns and trends to predict things such as the future of the economy, the demographics of different areas, and how effective proposed legislation may be. Sociologists are also in charge of counting United States citizens every ten years in the constitutionally mandated census program. The census not only provides a headcount of our nation, but the data also informs how $400 billion in federal funds is distributed to local, state and tribal governments. For sociology majors interested in working for a governmental agency be sure your curriculum includes classes in statistics and social research, and develop exceptional computer skills. You may also want to become involved in student government or cross-cultural organizations.

Job Possibilities

  • Public Information Manager
  • Legislative Assistant
  • Public Administration
  • Policy Analysis
  • Urban Planner

What degrees do people get in Sociology?

Degree Level Program Length Colleges Graduates
Associate's 2-year Length 176 Colleges 2,554 Graduates
Bachelor's 4-year Length 1,038 Colleges 32,419 Graduates
Certificates < 1 year Length 32 Colleges 110 Graduates
Doctoral 1-2 year Length 117 Colleges 725 Graduates
Master's 1+ years Length 237 Colleges 1,449 Graduates

Sociology Degree Overview

On the start of the search for Sociology degrees, know that there are many possibilities for a traditional degree as well as higher education choices. The most common path for those earning a degree in Sociology can assume a standard two to four years to earn a degree. The most prevailing Sociology degree earned was a bachelor's degree and it also has the widest range of school possibilities as well. The second most popular Sociology degree that people obtain is an associate's degree. While a bachelor's degree is the likely degree choice, receiving an associate's degree degree isn't out of the question. Although a certificate is offered at some schools, getting a certificate is not very common. With your goals in mind, look for the Sociology degree that can match your flexibility and needs in addition to finding a school with the right opportunities for you to earn that degree.

Associate's Degree in Sociology

An associate degree in sociology is really a stepping stone to a higher degree, and generally takes about two years for full-time students. While there are a lot of schools that offer an Associate of Arts degree in sociology, there are some schools out there that do offer an Associate of Science degree. An A.A. degree generally focuses more on the arts and humanities, while an A.S. degree usually requires more science classes. An A.A. is better for students who want to work in human services or education, while an A.S. is better for those looking to work in research or analysis.

Bachelor's Degree in Sociology

People who graduate with a bachelor’s degree in sociology have a strong foundation in understanding social problems and social life, and the influence different cultures and subcultures have on individuals, groups, and society. Students also learn to understand the principles of research methods and data analysis. Many sociology programs allow students to focus on one area of sociology such as women’s studies or criminal justice.

Bachelor of Arts in Sociology

Most sociology degrees are Bachelor of Arts degrees, and generally take about four years for full-time students. Few majors have such a wide scope of subject matter and classes that students can take, and while getting a broad overview of basic sociological concepts, students also are required to take a diverse array of electives. While all sociology students learn basic research methods, a B.A. degree generally places more emphasis on social theory and students usually do not need to take advanced math and advanced statistic classes to get their degree.

Bachelor of Science in Sociology

A Bachelor of Science in sociology program generally takes four years for full-time students to complete. While the core lower division sociology classes those pursuing a B.S. will have to take are usually the same as those pursuing a B.A., the upper division classes and electives typically required of a B.S. candidate place more emphasis on research methods, data gathering and data analysis. B.S. students normally have to take more math or science classes or participate in sociology-oriented laboratory research than those pursuing a B.A.

Making the Choice

The curriculum that is required to receive either a B.A. or B.S. in sociology will give students a solid grasp on how to think abstractly, search for answers, analyze situations and data, organize material, write well, and make oral presentations. However, a B.S. degree is best for students who think they may want to go into a research or math-oriented field. If you are unsure of what you want to do post-graduation, a B.A. in sociology provides a solid foundation and the potential for adaptability for a broad range of jobs. If you do know the field you are interested in pursuing a career in, you will want to choose your electives with these career goals in mind, or consider adding a minor that is related to your area of interest.

Average cost of college for a Sociology degree

Average Tuition and Fees for a 2 year Degree

Average Tuition and Fees School Control Student Residence
$2,238 Public In-State
$11,086 Private In-State
$6,459 Public Out-of-State
$11,086 Private Out-of-State

Average Tuition and Fees for a 4 year Degree

Average Tuition and Fees School Control Student Residence
$8,551 Public In-State
$31,382 Private In-State
$20,375 Public Out-of-State
$31,382 Private Out-of-State

Master's Degree in Sociology

Getting a master’s degree in sociology is not just for people with an undergraduate degree in sociology, as most master’s programs accept students from a wide range of academic backgrounds. Master’s students receive in-depth training in sociological theory, research methods, and the practical application of sociological knowledge to create effective policies and programs for social change. Most schools have both thesis and non-thesis options that take two to three years for a full-time student to complete. A non-thesis degree requires more academic study and in order to receive a diploma a comprehensive exam is given where the student demonstrates mastery of a particular field in sociology, while a thesis degree requires a student to conduct primary research in their area of interest and present their findings to a faculty committee. Thus, it is important to know what you are interested in focusing on so that you can choose a school where the areas of expertise of the faculty match with what you are interested in studying, as graduate students tend to work closely with their professors as teaching and research assistants. Traditional masters programs prepare students to enter a PhD program.

Doctoral Degree in Sociology

A PhD in sociology is mostly geared towards people that are looking to pursue careers in academia and research. Most people who make their living with the actual job title of sociologist have received their doctorate, a degree which usually takes six to eight years. In order to receive a degree, doctoral level sociology students are required to complete and successfully defend a dissertation. Many schools also require PhD candidates to apply for grants, publish articles and/or books, and present their work at professional meetings.

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