Advantages & Disadvantages of a Sociology Major

by Van Thompson

    The field of sociology is vast and deep, with different sociologists focusing on different topics. You might study social psychology, women's studies, philosophy or history as part of your sociology degree, and the skills you learn during your undergraduate career can prepare you for a wide variety of jobs. However, to become a professional sociologist, you'll likely need an advanced degree, which means an undergraduate sociology degree might not be the right choice if you plan to begin working immediately after completing your undergraduate education.

    Sociology is the study of behavior in groups, and can give you insight into cultural and religious phenomena. Much of what people do -- from electing officials to hiring new job candidates -- is a group undertaking, and sociology can help you understand why people act the way they do in groups. This skill can serve you in a variety of professions, including work in the nonprofit and public sectors.

    Sociology majors have to master the basics of research and data analysis. They also need to be strong writers, as most sociology departments require regular research papers. These skills can help you advance in almost any field. They can also prepare you for academic life. Even if you don't want to go to graduate school for sociology, the critical thinking skills you learn can help you excel in graduate programs in philosophy, law, psychology and numerous other topics.

    A college degree can increase your employment opportunities, but a sociology degree might not increase them much more. A report by the Georgetown Public Policy Institute found that sociology degrees are in the top 25 majors with the highest rate of unemployment. On average, sociology majors can expect an unemployment rate around seven percent. Even if you land a good job, it might not be directly related to your major because many sociology-oriented jobs -- such as professorships, sociological research or policy analysis -- require graduate degrees.

    If you want to become a practicing sociologist, you'll likely need to go to graduate school. If you love academic life, this could be an advantage, but if you're pursuing college so you can quickly begin a career, sociology might not be the best choice. Applying for graduate school can be a time-consuming process that requires taking the GRE, gathering professor recommendations and getting excellent grades in your undergraduate courses.

    About the Author

    Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.

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