Rural Sociology Graduate Programs

Mar 11, 2019

A graduate degree in rural sociology is usually an interdisciplinary program that provides the background necessary for studying issues and solving problems related to rural development, agriculture, food systems, and natural resources. A professional with a rural sociology graduate degree might work with domestic or international organizations that have an interest in social issues unique to rural areas.

What are the Course Requirements for Rural Sociology Graduate Programs?

Aspiring rural sociologists may decide to pursue a master's degree or doctoral degree in the field. Master's degrees may require 30-39 credit hours and typically offer a thesis or non-thesis option. Some doctoral programs may have outcomes-based requirements instead of a specific number of credits, while others may require 60 or more credit hours for completion. The following course summaries demonstrate the type of content often studied in rural sociology graduate programs:

Community Development

This type of class looks at social change in rural communities. Students can expect to explore the impacts of economy, industrialization, and technology on rural communities. Students might also examine community leadership and participation skills in rural communities.

Rural Sociology

Students may take a look at the differences between rural and urban communities in this sort of course. Some areas possibly explored include demographics, regional cultures, and values. Changes in rural areas, access to services, migration, and racial patterns are other topics often discussed in a rural sociology course.

Sociology of Agriculture and Food

This type of course is typically a study of the impact of rural food systems from production to consumption. Food supply, food insecurity, and trends in food systems are some common themes. Students might explore agriculture, food, and sustainability issues from a domestic and international perspective.

Sociology of Poverty

Students could look at the impact of poverty and inequality on rural citizens. Similarities and differences in poverty within urban and agricultural communities may be topics of discussion. Situations that create poverty and poverty programs and their impacts are other areas often covered.

Research Methods

Students enrolled in these graduate programs often need to practice effective research techniques to be used in projects, a thesis or a dissertation. This sort of course commonly addresses methods for collecting social data, including observation, secondary data sources, and surveys. Participants could develop skills in using both quantitative and qualitative data collection strategies.


Participants have the opportunity to develop skills in generating and testing hypotheses. The course may explore several analytical concepts including variance, correlations, and regression analysis. Descriptive and inferential statistical methods and statistical software are often addressed in statistics courses.

Rural Sociology Graduate Program Admission Requirements

To be admitted to a master's program in rural sociology, an applicant should typically have a bachelor's degree in social sciences or a related area, a competitive GPA, and demonstrated English proficiency. Applicants should submit official transcripts, GRE scores, a resume, and letters of recommendation. Doctoral program applicants will usually need a master's degree in an area related to social sciences and an understanding of statistics. They should submit official transcripts, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, a statement of interest, and proof of English proficiency.

Individuals who are interested in studying and solving problems that impact rural areas and populations may find a graduate degree in rural sociology to be an avenue toward a rewarding career. A master's degree prepares graduates for practice in the field, while a doctoral degree may be more suitable for those interested in academic research and teaching.

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