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Ever wondered why cliques form or why people vote the way they do? Sociology holds the answer. Sociology is the study of group dynamics and behaviors, including decision making, social relationships and even political trends. It also gives a great deal of insight into areas like gender or race relations, corporate culture and criminology. As you can imagine, this knowledge is applicable to a variety of career fields, from business and education to criminal justice.

Sociology degrees at a glance

Degree program in social science in sociology range from certificates to post-graduate, but the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that employers tend to prefer bachelor's degrees or higher.

According to The College Board, Bachelor of Arts (BA) degrees are the most common type of sociology degree, focusing on observational research and reporting; rarer Bachelor of Science (BS) degrees emphasize the mathematical side of sociological research. Associate degrees are a great way to get your feet wet without committing to a longer program, but can limit your career options overall. Post-graduate degrees can improve advancement and earnings potential, but are generally only required for research positions or professorships. Certificates are typically specialized for one particular career field, like social work.

While sociology degrees vary, all emphasize basic sociological concepts and research. Courses require a great deal of research and writing, spotlighting social topics like race, gender relations or criminology. The College Board lists the following among some of the most common sociology courses:

  • Anthropology
  • Community organization
  • Criminology
  • Human development
  • Psychology
  • Political science

Associate degrees and bachelor's degrees tend to provide students with a broad understanding of sociology while master's and PhD programs allow them to study one or two particular areas of sociology in depth. Whatever your path, the sociology training you receive can prepare you for a surprising number of careers.

Sociology careers move beyond the basics

While it's true that sociology degrees can help you land a job as a sociologist or social worker, the American Sociological Association notes that sociology grads can actually find employment in a variety of non-traditional industries. Here are just a few of the sociology career paths for which this type of training can prepare you, as reported by The College Board:

  • Sociologist
  • Social worker
  • Probation or correctional officer
  • Human service assistant
  • Public interest advocate
  • Community organizer
  • Politician

Note that the education requirements for each of these fields can vary tremendously, and that some offer more opportunity than others. Sociology and criminal justice are particularly promising: according to the BLS, employment among sociologists and political scientists is projected to grow by an impressive 21 percent between 2008 and 2018, while demand for probation or correctional specialists is projected to grow by 19 percent.

Whatever sociology career you choose, you are unlikely to get far without the right training. Research several sociology degree programs to find one that suits both your career goals and learning style.

Pursue your Sociology major today…