What Is a Sociology Major? Career Paths and BenefitsWhat Is a Sociology Major? Career Paths and BenefitsWhat Is a Sociology Major? Career Paths and Benefits

Human behavior and interaction create traditions, form relationships, construct groups, and lay the foundation for society. Understanding the mechanics behind these elements is crucial to understanding how they come together to build societies, but also why these societies thrive, collapse, or remain stable.

Sociologists play a critical role in furthering this understanding. Their work provides context to day-to-day life, examining the reasons how and why people engage with each other in specific ways. It can be a rewarding career choice for those who are interested in studying societies, their structures, and their resilience.

Exactly what is a sociology major? A sociology degree program, such as a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, helps students develop the foundational research, analytical, and critical thinking skills needed to contextualize human interactions and understand how people behave.

What Is Sociology?

Sociology is the study of how human beings interact with one another, specifically in the context of different social structures, institutions, and frameworks. The goal of the sociologist is to gain insights into the nature of human behavior, including how it influences and is influenced by society. In pursuit of these insights, sociologists may focus their research on any of a number of fields of human interactions, including religion, education, social stratification, race and ethnicity, gender, crime, or health.

Sociological theories can be applied in a number of ways. They can be used to analyze the personal effects of societal elements, such as gender identity, romantic relationships, aging, and religious beliefs. They can also explore concepts that impact entire societies, such as economic disparity, education, large-scale social movements, and urban development. Additionally, sociology can examine the effects of events that can directly impact how a society functions, such as war, immigration, and population growth.

Sociology is a good major for anyone interested in a career path that focuses on how human society functions. It’s important for those interested in the field to examine the sociology major and explore the subjects it covers.

What Is a Sociology Major?

A sociology major helps students build the knowledge and skills to succeed in a broad, dynamic field. The typical curriculum introduces students to core sociological concepts and provides essential instructions on how to apply the concepts to various human, social, and community situations.

Courses commonly found in a sociology curriculum include the following:

  • Criminological Theory: This course examines concepts and theories associated with crime and its impact on society. Students can expect to learn about root causes and consequences of crime and criminal behaviors.
  • Mental Illness and Society: This course studies the impact that mental health has on societal institutions. It also explores deficiencies in the mental health system and methodologies that can be applied to bridge these gaps.
  • Human Sexuality: This course examines sexual behavior from a social, biological, and psychological perspective. It may also focus on topics specifically related to how sexuality and society connect, such as sexual orientation, sexual morality, and cultural perspectives on love.

An undergraduate sociology degree typically includes a senior-level research project.

Sociology Degree Program Goals

sociology degree program has several core objectives. Ultimately, the program is designed to help students develop deep insights into the complexities of social issues and constructs, encompassing areas such as race, human sexuality, crime, and mental illness. Key objectives include the following:

Familiarity with Behavioral Science Methodologies

One of the primary objectives of the sociology program is to provide students with practical knowledge of the models, research methodologies, and analytical tools used in behavioral science and social services. Students who graduate from the program will be qualified to employ these diverse tools on a professional level.

Exploration of Basic Social Processes

Students in the sociology program will be prepared to understand and interpret different social processes, institutions, and interactions. These could range from the criminal justice system to the foster care system to public schooling.

Development of Critical Thinking Skills

Sociologists may use different frameworks to interpret human relationships; some examples are Marxism, feminism, and postmodernism. The goal of the sociology degree program is not to impose a framework or worldview on students, but rather to train students to evaluate and compare these frameworks critically and analytically.

Preparation for Professional Success

Finally, sociology courses are designed to prepare students to thrive in any of a number of professional environments, using their academic background to find success in gerontology, criminal justice, social welfare, or a comparable field.

A social worker helps a woman fill out a form.

Benefits of Earning a Sociology Degree

When researching what a sociology major is, the program’s benefits are worth considering. Students who complete a bachelor’s in sociology may find that they have many advantages, including the following:

Social Influence

To enact real social change, individuals need to have a foundational understanding of how societies work. An academic background in sociology equips students with this knowledge, making them better prepared to enact positive change in a rapidly evolving social environment.

Broad Knowledge Base

Because sociology is the study of human interaction, it touches on nearly all aspects of life in a society. This means that students who pursue a degree in this field will also develop a deep working knowledge of related and ancillary fields that range from finance to political science to organizational psychology. The sociology student is well-rounded and literate in many different areas of human endeavor.

Professional Success

Sociology graduates have many different opportunities to find professional success and earn respectable salaries. Professionals who have a bachelor’s in sociology made a median annual salary of approximately $67,000 as of December 2022, according to Payscale. The precise salary for a sociology degree depends on several factors, such as job title, location, industry, and level of experience.

What Can You Do with a Sociology Degree?

Students who explore what a sociology major is and graduate with a degree in sociology will find many different career paths open to them and have the chance to apply sociological principles in several different fields. Some sociology professions may require additional education and experience beyond a bachelor’s degree. A few examples are the following:

The Justice System

A background in sociology provides keen insight into the factors that contribute to crime and how the justice system may or may not be effective in its response. Many sociology degree holders go on to pursue careers in the criminal justice system, often going to law school before ultimately becoming public defenders or prosecutors.

Social Services

Sociology provides perspective into how different social services and institutions can make a difference in the lives of individuals or families. Many sociology graduates seek professional opportunities as victim advocates or as social workers in the foster care system. Sociologists can also find work in social welfare organizations.


Sociology graduates understand people. That makes them invaluable members of business organizations, where they may employ their expertise in different ways. For example, an individual may bring their understanding of group psychology to a business’s human resources department, where they may be especially useful in conflict resolution or labor relations. Sociology majors often become market research analysts or focus group leaders as well.


Many sociology majors find work in the educational system. They often become counselors, allowing them to play a supportive role for children dealing with domestic problems or bullying. Sociology professionals can also work for institutions that provide social support services to intervene in the lives of at-risk children and adolescents.

Pursue Your Professional Goals with a Sociology Degree

By pursuing a formal education in sociology, students open themselves up to a world of professional opportunity and the chance to make a real impact on the social structures they inhabit. Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Arts in Sociology offers a dynamic education with a diverse curriculum designed to help students cultivate a foundation in key concepts and theories of sociology.

A sociology major is an opportunity for students to find meaningful work in nonprofit organizations, government agencies, community schools, law firms, and beyond. Discover more about Maryville’s online sociology degree program and how it can equip you with the skills you need for professional success.

Recommended Reading

Social Issues in Healthcare

Exploring Services: Human Services vs. Social Services

Juvenile Delinquency Statistics and Risk Factors in the U.S.


Britannica, “Economic Sociology”

Houston Chronicle, “What Are the Benefits of Being a Sociologist?”

Payscale, Bachelor of Arts (BA), Sociology Degree

Simply Sociology, “What Is Sociology?”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Sociologists

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