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Sociology is the study of various institutions and realities that exist within and affect the organization of human society, such as gender, religion, race, or class. Those who wish to work in the field of sociology will likely need to complete a degree in the area. The most common types of sociology programs are the Bachelor of Arts (BA), the Master of Arts (MA), and the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). These programs vary in difficulty, length, and the range of careers they prepare graduates for.
Many colleges and universities offer sociology programs at the undergraduate level, leading to a BA degree. These programs typically require four years of full-time study, and may be completed on a traditional college campus or, less commonly, through an online program. Some BA in sociology programs require students to specialize in a specific area of sociology, such as aging or social inequalities, while others provide a general overview of the field. A BA program typically involves completion of a number of sociology classes as well as some electives in other areas. While a BA in sociology may prepare students for some entry-level sociology careers, a graduate degree is often necessary to advance in this field.
Graduate sociology programs include the MA and the PhD. An MA in sociology generally takes two to three years of full-time study to complete. Most programs require students to specialize in a particular area of sociology, and they usually must complete classes in this area as well as study research methods. Toward the end of an MA in sociology program, students are generally required to complete a major research project or a thesis. Those with an MA in sociology may qualify to work in a variety of areas, such as high school teaching, research, and public policy creation.
Of all sociology programs, the PhD in sociology is the most time-consuming and rigorous. Like most PhD programs, it can take five years or more to complete. Students generally spend the first few years completing seminars on various sociological topics. They then choose an area of specialization and carry out original research in that area, writing up their findings in a dissertation that must be defended before a committee. After completing a PhD in sociology, graduates may be eligible for a number of positions, such as teaching at the college level, working as counselors, or taking on a wide variety of research roles.