Graduate Study in Sociology: A Guide
Over the last few years, the Department has been quite successful in helping sociology majors and minors pursue advanced degrees in the field. The Gonzaga Sociology department has helped place graduating majors in many of the top graduate programs around the country, including those at USC, Johns Hopkins, the University of Michigan, NYU and the University of Washington. In order to assist majors and minors contemplating further study in sociology or a related field, we try to answer the most commonly asked questions about graduate study below. In addition, the Department offers a series of Fall workshops for applicants, ranging from school selection to application processing.
Is Graduate Study for Me?
If you are excited by the prospect of doing independent research on sociological issues, or if you hope to become a teacher in social science at the college level, or if you hope to reach a position in which sociological expertise is desirable, then the answer is yes. Your goals should determine the kind of graduate program you choose.
As in many fields, there are two graduate degrees in sociology, the MA and the PhD. The PhD is for students who are primarily interested in research and teaching. Graduate students are like apprentice faculty. They teach, do research and publish. About seventy-five percent of sociology PhDs go into academia and the other twenty-five percent become full-time researchers. Even those primarily interested in teaching will continually have to update their understanding of the world. Graduate students in sociology should be interested in doing social research -- investigating social issues and problems whose questions can be answered through studying the social world.
The Master's degree is often a step on the way to a PhD. However, there are also MA programs in sociology that specialize in training researchers in a variety of non-academic fields, such as marketing, evaluation, and survey research. Such programs often offer the MA as a terminal degree. If you are primarily interested in applying sociological knowledge, these may be your best choice. If your interest in social issues focuses mainly on working with people to solve their problems, applying research, administering programs, counseling, and the like, then your best bet may be a program in a field related to sociology. Some post-graduate programs in these areas are Public Health, Public Administration, and Social Work. The academic background needed for these programs is similar to what one needs for a graduate degree in sociology. Check with the appropriate programs for additional requirements.