In contrast to psychology, which is the study of the mind and the psyche of individuals, sociology is the study of the development and behavior of societies. Multiple industries place value in obtaining and utilizing sociological information — including gender, racial or ethnic relations, social organization, and criminology — which can make earning a degree in this field a rather attractive option.
Whether you like sitting behind a desk or standing in front of it, a degree in sociology can lead to work in a number of different settings. Most people think of sociologists as researchers working at colleges and universities, and while this is the path pursued by many in the field, many others work as private analysts, counselors, economists and even statisticians, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
To help aspiring sociologists find the education that is right for them, we have created this list of the 10 best online colleges for sociology, using data from the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Educational Data System (IPEDS). Our multi-point methodology for this ranking analyzed data points relevant to online and nontraditional students such as acceptance rate and prominence of sociology at each school. For more details on our methodology, see the bottom of this page.
Sociologists make it their goal to make sense of societies, even when they appear to be in turmoil. This requires many skills that can be obtained from the courses of an online degree program for sociology. This section provides information about the curriculums that may be found in sociology departments and the skills students can learn from them.
The coursework that is required to complete online sociology degree programs can differ depending on the school students attend. With that in mind, the following list is a sample of the types of classes that may be available to sociology majors.
Sociology is a specialized field that requires workers to have high-level skills. Students who pursue online education for sociology may acquire the following marketable skills through their coursework.
People in the sociology field can earn a credential or a certification to demonstrate their expertise and dedication to their careers. Those who are interested in getting a credential can be certified through the Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology, which offers the Certified Clinical Sociologist and the Certified Sociological Practitioner designations. In order to earn a credential, applicants must first submit proof of their professional experience, as well as academic transcripts and reference letters. If the association's review committee determines the applicant is qualified to continue the process, they are then required to present a portfolio that is reviewed by industry peers.
Sociology students who want to better position themselves to compete in the job market can also earn a certification. Available through the American Sociological Association, the Professional Development Certificate is earned by students who participate in six workshops or meetings sponsored by the organization.
Sociology is a highly competitive field. You'll want to put your best foot forward when trying to break into this field so you can rise above the competition. Earning a degree in the subject, putting the extra work into getting a minor, or working an internship can all give you that extra polish you need when looking for one of these careers.
Professionals in sociology typically study groups of people in order to gain an understanding of human behavior within a society. The findings of a sociologist influence the flow of society itself, providing information to politicians, academics, social workers and more. Sociologists may work for government agencies, research facilities, private businesses and colleges and universities.
The daily work of a sociologist includes developing hypotheses and creating research studies to test them; conducting research and interpreting the results; preparing reports and journal articles that explain study findings; and working with lawmakers, social workers, government agencies and other social scientists to create policies that address specific community problems.
Anthropology and archaeology are studies that focus on how people function and develop within a cultural context. Anthropologists study the history of human beings, from biology to cultural development; they investigate how generations of people have navigated religious institutions, political systems, social structures, health care systems, language conventions and more. Archaeologists study human remains and cultural artifacts; they uncover the structure of past civilizations and compare them to the present day in order to draw conclusions about the human condition and the possible direction of the future.
Although those with bachelor's degrees can work in an assisting capacity, people who want to get full-time careers in either of these fields must at least have a master's degree in archaeology or anthropology.