The Study of Human Nature: A Communication Degree vs. Sociology Degree

Our ability to communicate complex ideas is one of the most compelling characteristics that distinguishes humankind. Not only can we communicate from one person to another, but from city to city and even across the globe, spanning thousands of miles and bridging gaps of language and culture. We aren’t the only species capable of communication, but science has yet to discover another species that possess the complex communication strategies humans have developed.

Communication degrees and sociology degrees are two bachelor’s programs that focus on how humans communicate and the effect of communication on the population at large. While both of these degrees share a similar interest, their specific learning paths have vital differences. Read on to learn more about both programs, including the career opportunities they lead to, what to expect while earning the degree, and what sets the two apart.

Adoption specialist with sociology degree counsels prospective parents

Communication Degree Overview

Through a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, students learn to utilize language to connect with clients, consumers, the media, and other message stakeholders. Communication students apply writing and speaking skills to convey information or create content that speaks to a specific demographic. A strong undergraduate program like Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Arts in Communication includes courses such as professional and organizational communication, social media, strategic communication writing, and web design.

What Do Communication Degree Graduates Do?

With a degree in communication, graduates may translate ideas into written, spoken, and graphic form. They may find a career in journalism as a beat reporter or columnist, or in social media, running Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and similar accounts for major brands.

Some graduates enter marketing, where they may create branded content, advertisements, and email content. Others choose public relations, where they may draft press releases to help promote an organization. All of these jobs require a strong grasp of English; an understanding of both traditional and digital communication; and the ability to turn complex ideas into clear, compelling messaging.

Types of careers

  • Journalist: Journalists research and write stories on all sorts of topics. They interview sources, check facts, and spend time in the field to report stories accurately to the public.
  • Public relations specialist: These professionals help organizations create and maintain a favorable image with the public. This includes writing press releases, crafting social media posts, and creating an identity that resonates with the media and public.
  • Copywriter: Copywriting involves writing a wide variety of content, including ads and promotional materials. Copywriters work with other team members to reflect a brand’s voice and create content that connects with a target audience.

Sociology Degree Overview

Sociology majors develop the ability to study society — the way we interact with one another, and the effects those interactions have on the culture at large. It’s a wide-ranging field, with many other disciplines –– such as history, religion, and economics –– contained under its umbrella. Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Arts in Sociology includes concentrations in criminology, social work, and social justice. Courses for each concentration represent such topics as race, ethnicity, and crime (for a criminology specialization), social aspects of the aged (in social work), and social class in society (social justice). Through such classes, sociology majors are exposed to a well-rounded view of society.

What Do Sociology Degree Graduates Do?

Graduates who hold a sociology degree often enter positions where they can put their understanding of communication and research to good use. If graduates want to enter the workforce immediately out of college, they may choose to work in social services. However, several popular job options such as social work require further education. Entering the job market with a master’s degree in social work (MSW), as well as with a state-required license can lead to more opportunities.

Types of careers

  • Social worker: Social workers connect vulnerable populations with resources, help them cope with everyday stresses, and also advocate for their needs.
  • Crime victim advocate: These professionals work specifically with victims of crime. They offer them emotional support, advice, information, and guide them through legal processes.
  • Adoption specialists: Adoption specialists guide prospective parents, birth parents, and children through the adoption process. This includes counseling them on legal options, paperwork, and assisting with the psychological and emotional stresses that can accompany the process.

Similarities Between a Communication Degree and Sociology Degree

Sociology and communication degrees both focus on human interaction. Students who are pursuing communication degrees or sociology degrees examine how human beings use language, non-verbal communication, images, and similar methods to influence one another’s behavior. Both degrees require students to develop or maintain strong writing and reading comprehension skills, as well as interpersonal skills that help them work well with their colleagues and research subjects.

Differences Between a Communication Degree and Sociology Degree

Though both degrees focus on human interaction, communication and sociology differ in coursework, scope, and future career paths. When comparing these two degree choices, prospective students must identify the kind of courses they would like to take during their studies, as well as how they would like to apply their skills after graduation.

Academic Scope

While human interaction is at the heart of both degrees, each program approaches it in a different way. Communication degrees focus on how to implement language skills in verbal and written contexts to influence behavior or convey facts. This degree also looks at the construction of messages — particularly marketing messages — on a more granular level. This includes syntax, word choice, and more.

Sociology degrees look at the effects of human interaction on individuals, communities, or culture at large. This degree program is more focused on broad trends that are relevant to human behavior, which can include how we use language. At its core, a sociology degree empowers students to solve problems and help vulnerable populations.

Course Offerings

One major difference between a communication degree and a sociology degree is the coursework. There are almost no classes that overlap between these two degree paths. Sociology courses concentrate on topics such as social structure, mental wellness, family structure, and more. Communication courses focus on writing, social media, communication research methods, and digital content creation.

Career Paths

Sociology graduates tend to find themselves in positions where they can assist people or impact public policy. They might work in human, social, or community services. Career advancement typically requires advanced degrees or certifications.

Communication graduates, on the other hand, tend toward business-oriented careers that use their verbal and writing skills. This may include industries such as advertising, publishing, education, media, and more. Advancement and leadership opportunities may result from experience, or from advanced degrees in business-specific topics.

Communication Degree vs. Sociology Degree: Which Is Right for You?

If you are looking for an undergraduate degree program that can position you to enter the world of business, a communication degree may be for you. Alternatively, if you’re passionate about understanding how current events impact society, sociology might be an ideal path.

Explore Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and online Bachelor of Arts in Communication to see how you can earn an undergraduate degree in a career field you love.

American Sociological Association, What is Sociology?
National Communication Association, Why Study Communication?
Maryville University, Communication Careers
Maryville University, Sociology Careers
U.S. News & World Report, “What Can You Do With a Sociology Degree?”

Be Brave

Bring us your ambition and we’ll guide you along a personalized path to a quality education that’s designed to change your life.