Complete Guide to Online Sociology Degrees
Graduates with online sociology degrees are prepared for careers in a variety of fields like social work, healthcare, education, and human services. Online programs are available at all levels, except doctoral programs, which must be completed on campuses. Online classes cover topics in gender studies, minority studies, medicine, contemporary social issues, and modern research methods.
The Commission on the Accreditation of Programs in Applied and Clinical Sociology (CAPACS) accredits sociology programs, and this designation ensures a quality education as well as practical hands-on experience. Internships are often required for online sociology degrees, but can be completed locally with approved organizations. Those who want to become clinical sociologists should also seek certification from the Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology.
Comprehensive List of Colleges & Universities for an Online Sociology Degree
Overview of Available Online Sociology Degree Types
Online sociology degrees are available at all levels except the doctoral level. They can lead to a variety of careers including counseling, teaching, library science, and human services. The most common degree level for sociology careers is a bachelor’s, although those that plan to teach at the college level, pursue law school, or practice as a sociologist will need at least a master's degree.
The American Sociological Association suggests that students decide early on whether they will be experts or generalists. Experts focus on one particular area, often taking on internships and pursuing further education. Generalists study a wider range of sociology along with the remainder of liberal arts classes. Being a generalist frees the student up to pursue a career in any number of areas including those outside of sociology.
An online associate degree in sociology often requires little more than a high school diploma or equivalency exam for admission. Students can take courses entirely online, often at a self-guided pace. Associate degrees in sociology rarely require internships for completion.
Most associate degrees are completed once the student has finished 60 hours of college credit. Though online courses offer flexibility with the time-frame, most sociology students finish their associate degrees within two years. Most of the courses are general education, which allows students to later pursue a bachelor's degree in most liberal arts fields. However, students will likely take about six hours of sociology credits.
Associate degrees in sociology can help individuals find employment as social service assistants, teacher's aides, youth counselors, and office clerks. Most students who earn online associate degrees in sociology go on to complete a bachelor's degree. Often, the credits from an associate degree transfer directly to a bachelor's degree.
Students can pursue an online bachelor’s of arts or a bachelor’s of science in sociology. A bachelor's degree in sociology usually requires a minimum of 120 credit hours. In most cases, students will take courses such as social theory, statistics for behavioral sciences, and sociology of minority relations. Some online institutions do require that sociology students engage in an internship. These can often be completed at approved local locations, although in some cases, students should be prepared to travel or should choose an online program from a nearby school.
A master's degree in sociology is often the lowest level of education needed to pursue a career as a sociologist or educator. It is also necessary for those students with plans to seek a doctorate in sociology, although there are currently no online doctorate degrees available. Online master’s degrees in sociology often have specific focuses like urban studies, women's studies, or social psychology.
Most online master's degrees in sociology require an undergraduate degree in sociology or a related field. Most programs also require students to have a minimum GPA, although this varies greatly by school.
An online master's degree usually takes about two years to complete. In most instances, students will be expected to complete an internship. Online universities may or may not help students find the internship, but they all must approve the choice, and they can usually be completed locally. Most programs also require the completion of a master's thesis, though a non-thesis track is available through some online schools.
Online sociology certificates are available at the undergraduate or graduate level, and can cover topics like aging, medicine, research methods, contemporary social issues, and family relations. They often take one year and range from 12-18 credits. Graduate certificates can be used by teachers already holding a master’s degree to start teaching sociology.
An online degree from an accredited institution is important for sociology students to ensure that the school has a rigorous curriculum and that graduates will be able to transfer credits. If a student receives an associate or bachelor's degree from an unaccredited school, it is unlikely that he or she would be accepted into a graduate degree program. Also, accreditation is important to prospective employers.
For graduates pursuing careers in applied and clinical sociology, versus though focusing on research or academia, it is important for them to consider programs accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation of Programs in Applied and Clinical Sociology (CAPACS). This designation ensures that a program has quality practical, hands-on experience as well as provides a solid, well-rounded foundation.
Licensure and certification may be required for certain positions within the sociology field and related careers. For instance, a clinical sociologist is more likely to have a meaningful career if he or she obtains an endorsement as a certified sociological practitioner from the Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology. Likewise, social workers must be licensed in most states and may require certification from the National Association of Social Workers. Careers within healthcare and teaching similarly often require their own certification. This will vary from state-to-state, so students should research their state’s specific requirements for any career they are considering before choosing a degree.
Online classes for sociology degrees may vary depending on the emphasis that the student chooses, like women’s studies, minority studies, medicine, or modern communications. All undergraduate degrees will require general education courses like math, science, and liberal arts. Students will also take classes like general sociology, quantitative research methods, and social theory. Electives may include courses like cultural anthropology, mass media, criminology, and human sexuality.
- Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology. Accessed February 21, 2015. https://www.aacsnet.net/
- Commission on the Accreditation of Programs in Applied and Clinical Sociology (CAPACS). Accessed February 21, 2015. http://www.sociologycommission.org/
- Sociologists - Bureau of Labor Statistics. Accessed February 21, 2015. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/sociologists.htm
- Sociology (BS). Accessed February 21, 2015. http://asuonline.asu.edu/online-degree-programs/undergraduate/bachelor-science-sociology
- Sociology (Certificate). Accessed February 21, 2015. http://distance.appstate.edu/graduate-programs/52
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