Best Sociology Master’s Programs Online

From a list of this year’s top programs to a breakdown of specialization and career options, learn everything you need to know about earning your master’s in sociology online.

Are you interested in human behavior and how it relates to society? Are you curious about people’s motivations and how those motivations affect others? If how people think and what that means for a community as a whole interests you, an online sociology master’s degree might be a good option for you.

A master’s in sociology online teaches advanced sociological concepts in a format that works with your busy schedule and offers areas of specialization. Before applying to an online sociology master’s program, do your research to understand what this degree may cost, how long it will take, and what kind of courses you can expect. This guide provides this and other information to help you decide whether an online sociology master’s degree is right for you. It also showcases the best online sociology master’s degree programs in the nation that can help you meet your academic and professional goals.

College Spotlights: Best Sociology Master’s Programs Online in 2021

With the growing popularity of online learning, there are now many online sociology master’s programs available. To help you choose the best one for you, we are creating a 2021 rankings list of the best online sociology master’s degree programs. Until that list is released later this year, we have identified three top-rated schools offering online master’s degrees in sociology. Each offers flexible learning, affordability, and quality education.

Texas A&M University – Commerce

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At Texas A&M University – Commerce, students seeking a 100% online degree can enroll in the Master of Science in Sociology program. Consisting of 30 credits, it allows most students to earn their degrees in two years. The curriculum is designed for maximum flexibility, so students can work full-time while earning their sociology master’s degree online. There is no thesis option, and much of the curriculum is completed through Brightspace, Texas A&M University – Commerce’s online learning platform.

Faculty members provide one-on-one guidance and instruction for students needing additional assistance. Students can also take part in organizations like Alpha Kappa Delta International Honors Society and the Sociology and Criminal Justice Society for additional learning, networking, and professional growth opportunities.

Sam Houston State University

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The Sam Houston State University Master of Arts in Sociology online program is tailored for students interested in public sociology. It emphasizes advanced instruction in statistics, research methods, and quantitative techniques. This research-driven focus is balanced with theory and various electives. The fully-online curriculum allows graduate students to earn their degrees without setting foot on campus or any other real-world location to complete a course requirement.

The program consists of 37 credit hours, with classes beginning in the spring and fall semesters. There are two primary degree tracks for students, one requiring a thesis and the other consisting of a comprehensive final exam. Sam Houston State University also keeps class sizes as small as possible and provides 24/7 support.

Morehead State University

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Morehead State University’s Master of Arts in Sociology online program stands out because it offers one of the widest selections of specializations. Unlike other programs offering only a general sociology curriculum and maybe one other specialization, Morehead State University offers general sociology and three additional specializations in:

  • Chemical dependency
  • Criminology
  • Interdisciplinary social sciences.

Each academic track has both thesis and non-thesis options, making it easier to customize your learning experience. Students wanting an on-campus experience can also take courses at any of the four physical campuses located in Morehead, Ashland, Mt. Sterling, or Prestonsburg.

In addition to the typical admissions requirements, applicants must have an undergraduate degree with 18 credits of sociology-related coursework and at least a 3.0 GPA in those classes.

Why Earn a Master’s in Sociology Online?

  1. Convenient online learning

    Many master’s degrees in sociology are available online with 100% virtual curriculums. This means students do not need to visit campus or any other in-person site to earn their degree. Additionally, students can attend class when it is most convenient for them, which is perfect for students who are also working professionals.

  2. Research focus

    No matter their concentration or chosen electives, students get a healthy serving of research-intensive courses. This includes learning about quantitative and qualitative research techniques as well as about statistical concepts useful in sociology.

  3. Specialization options

    One of the benefits of a graduate degree is the opportunity to learn about specialized topics within a given area of study. Sociology is no different. Many programs offer at least one or two learning concentrations in addition to a general sociology track.

What You’ll Learn in a Master’s in Sociology Master’s Degree Program

If you enroll in an online sociology master’s program, your class selection will be unique to your academic and professional interests. However, there are similar core classes, while electives allow you to branch out. Below is a list of some of the core classes and electives that you can expect to encounter.

Popular Courses

  • Cultural Sociology

    This class gives a glimpse of how culture affects human interactions and behaviors. Students examine both modern and classic views of culture and how they relate to important sociological principles and theories.

  • Statistical Methods in Sociology

    Students in this course learn about various statistical tools and how they apply to the study of sociology. This includes learning about central tendency and dispersion as well as about linear modeling. This course also introduces students to statistical software to help compile and analyze data.

  • Classical Sociological Theory

    The works and writings of those who have influenced the study of sociology are discussed in this class. The coursework not only teaches what these individuals believed but also how their thoughts influenced sociology, specifically symbolic interactionism and conflict theory.

  • Sociology of Education

    This class is perfect for students wishing to teach after graduation. Students look at formal education as a social system with a close examination of the interactions among students and between teachers and students. The influence of society and family in the education process is also considered.

  • Thesis

    An optional class depending on the program or student’s curriculum selection, the thesis is a student’s opportunity to put research and critical thinking skills to the test. During this class, students work with a faculty advisor to develop their thesis research and paper.

Specialization Tracks

A graduate degree in sociology allows the chance to specialize in a particular area of sociological study. While not all master’s in sociology online programs offer specializations, they are quite common. Even when there is no formal specialization available, students can usually make their own through electives. Below are a few of the concentrations available to master’s degree sociology students.

  • Chemical Dependency

    This specialization prepares graduates to work with individuals suffering from chemical dependency issues. This includes the ability to provide individual and group counseling services to those from a variety of backgrounds. After graduating with this specialization, and depending on the jurisdiction, students are prepared to become certified chemical dependency counselors.

  • Education

    Becoming a post-secondary instructor is a popular career for many earning a master’s degree in sociology. This concentration covers topics like curriculum preparation, learning theories, and application of social theories to the classroom.

  • Community Development

    Society is based on the existence and interaction of multiple communities. Changes in society often start at the community level. This specialization provides the knowledge and skills graduates can use to bring about positive change in their communities from both the economic and cultural perspectives.

  • Criminology

    Criminology is one of the more popular specializations. Subjects studied include terrorism, deviant behavior, the role of race in crime, and a comparison of different criminal justice systems across various times and countries.

Accreditation for Master’s in Sociology Online Programs

Accreditation is the process in which an independent organization confirms that a particular school or program offers an education meeting a certain level of quality. When it comes to choosing the right master’s in sociology online program, students should confirm the school offering the program is accredited. This is an example of institutional accreditation. This type of accreditation usually comes from regional accrediting bodies, but there are some national accrediting bodies as well.

Another major type of accreditation is programmatic accreditation. This is the accreditation of a specific program, not a school. The majority of online sociology master’s degree programs do not have this type of accreditation. However, students seeking very specific forms of sociology studies, such as applied or clinical sociology, should consider attending a program with programmatic accreditation from the Commission on the Accreditation of Programs in Applied and Clinical Sociology (CAPACS). Only a handful of sociology programs in the entire country have this accreditation.

What You Can Do with a Master’s in Sociology

The knowledge gained in an online sociology master’s degree program can open doors to a variety of careers in a plethora of settings. These include government, corporations, schools, and non-profit organizations. However, one common trait of these work settings is that they all rely on the understanding of social behavior. The primary difference is usually how to apply that understanding within society to help effectively help a client, employer, or community.

Sociologist

Sociologists use statistical and research tools to examine how humans interact and behave within society. The online sociology master’s degree curriculum includes coursework to teach students how to use these tools while also providing advanced conceptual background theories related to sociology.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$46,920 $83,420 $141,770

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Postsecondary Sociology Teacher

A graduate degree is necessary to teach sociology at the post-secondary level. Many of these sociology instructors instruct at vocational or technical schools.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$39,920 $75,290 $147,930

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Market Research Analyst

At its root, sociology is the study of the social behavior of humans. This knowledge helps market research professionals examine subsets of society to help organizations better understand what their target audiences want. A master’s degree in sociology gives market research analysts advanced coursework in research, statistics, and social theory.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$34,350 $63,790 $122,630

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021

Survey Researcher

Survey researchers create and implement surveys, along with analyzing the data collected in those surveys. Even though some survey researchers only have a bachelor’s degree, a graduate degree is strongly recommended for moving beyond entry-level positions. That’s because the master’s curriculum places a strong emphasis on research methods and quantitative analysis.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$32,150 $59,170 $108,860

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Social and Community Service Manager

Social and community service managers oversee an organization’s programs, such as social services, that are designed to help the general public. A master’s degree in sociology can be helpful due to the advanced coursework that informs students on how demographics, culture, and other social factors influence society and human behavior. This knowledge teaches skills useful in implementing, operating, and designing social service programs.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$41,220 $67,150 $112,480

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Costs and Financial Aid for Online Master’s Degrees in Sociology

A graduate degree is a substantial investment in time, effort, and money. Most students need some form of financial aid to help pay for their online master’s degree in sociology. Common options include grants, scholarships, fellowships, employer tuition reimbursement, and school loans. Some schools also offer graduate and research assistantships. To learn more about these and other financial aid options, visit our financial aid page.

How Affordable Your Online Master’s in Sociology Could Be

School Name No. of Credits Cost/Credit Est. Total Tuition Cost

University of Alabama at Birmingham

30

$534.00

$16,020.00

Arizona State University

30

$558.40

$16,752.00

American Public University

30

$370.00

$11,100.00

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Sociology Master’s Degrees

What are the admissions requirements for an online master’s in sociology?

Most prospective students must meet the following requirements for admission into a master’s in sociology online program:

  • Possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Meet a minimum GPA
  • Complete sociology and related coursework, such as statistics and introduction to sociology
  • Submit an application
  • Provide official transcripts
  • Obtain one or more letters of recommendation
  • Write a statement of purpose

Some programs also require an application fee, resume or curriculum vitae, and a writing sample. GRE test scores are not usually required. Some admissions offices accept them, though, either as a chance for applicants to strengthen their applications or from students who do not meet minimum GPA requirements.

How long will it take to finish my master’s in sociology online?

Practically all sociology master’s programs online consist of between 30 and 37 credits, with most students taking about two years to complete their degrees. In most instances, the sociology master’s online curriculum is the same as the on-campus curriculum.

The timeframe for completion depends on course load, the decision on whether to complete a thesis, and how many credits are transferred. For example, at Texas Woman’s University, students can transfer up to 6 credits toward their sociology master’s degree while at American Public University, students can transfer up to 15 credits.

Can I earn a master’s in sociology 100% online or do I need to visit campus?

Most online sociology master’s degree programs are fully online, meaning the student does not need to attend class on-campus or meet some other in-person requirement. However, certain specializations, such as chemical dependency, may have an in-person requirement like a practicum. Additionally, students choosing not to complete a capstone research paper may need to obtain a certain number of fieldwork hours as a substitute.