Sociology undergrads can move right on to a graduate degree in the same field if they so desire, but that is far from the only choice. The options listed here are among the most popular according to the 2005 and 2007 surveys conducted by the American Sociological Association (ASA) for sociology students moving on from their bachelor's degree.
Master of Sociology
A master's degree in sociology can be used as a stepping stone to an academic career, or it can lead to a variety of opportunities in both the government and private sector. This program can be completed in as little as one year if summer classes are taken, but usually does not take longer than two years with a full-time course load.
Sociology master's degree programs often require that applicants have a bachelor's degree. The degree may not need to be in sociology, but some amount of prior sociology coursework is often required. Sociology master's programs do not always require that students take the GRE, but they may require that the student have a certain minimum GPA in prior coursework along with the common application documents such as transcripts and letters of recommendation.
Graduate-level sociology curricula can contain a wide range of course options. Some examples include data analysis, political sociology, law in societies and comparative studies of the family. Graduate programs in the field may conclude with a graduate seminar or a practicum.
Master of Social Work
A Master of Social Work degree provides students with the educational basis needed for management-level positions in social work. Some field social worker positions require a master's degree as the minimum level of education. Social work graduates can specialize in a broad variety of areas including public health, patient care facilities, schools and community development.
Master of Social Work programs often require an accredited bachelor's degree, though it usually doesn't have to be in any particular subject. Previous social work coursework is helpful for admission (and may lead to advanced standing), but not always entirely necessary. Typical application requirements include letters of recommendation, official transcript/s, a personal statement, and the applicant's CV or resume.
Some Master of Social Work programs allow students to choose from one of two tracks: clinical work with clients, or a 'macro practice' track that focuses more on public policy and community organizing. These generally differ in their selection of classes. The clinical track focuses more on different types of therapy and clinical practice with different demographics, while the macro track focuses on elements of leadership and administrative management.
Master of Education
The Master of Education is a foundational degree for students interested in all types of teaching careers. In addition to teaching specialties, this can include counseling, special education and school administration. A Master of Education is usually completed in one to two years of full-time coursework.
A Master of Education program will almost always require completion of an accredited bachelor's degree as a prerequisite for admission. Along with typical application documents, some schools have a GPA requirement of at least 3.0 in undergraduate coursework.
Students in a Master of Education program learn fundamentals of curriculum and instruction as well as various teaching strategies, learning technologies and research methods. Students usually select a concentration to specialize in such as early childhood education, secondary education, ESL or library science.
The Juris Doctor (JD) is the standard degree for lawyers. Sociology is a popular choice for pre-law undergrads as the bachelor's program can be completed relatively quickly and the course content overlaps with prerequisite law courses. Students should expect law school to take three years at a minimum.
Most law schools require that the applicant has completed a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. In addition, you can expect that they will require you to take the LSAT. They may also ask that you prepare a CAS law school report and provide academic references and a personal statement.
While law schools do not have one standard universal curriculum, American Bar Association (ABA) requirements are such that certain topics are nearly always covered. These include fundamental elements of the legal system like criminal law, contracts, torts, property law, civil procedure and legal writing.
Sociology undergrad coursework provides students with a solid base from which to move on to a number of other educational opportunities at the graduate level. Sociology and social work are the two most straightforward choices, but opportunities exist in various fields, from teaching to law.