What is a Sociology Major and is it Right for Me?

Wonder how social groups came to be and want to understand the forces affecting our culture today? A sociology major may be for you.

What is a sociology major?

The “official” definition for sociology is that it’s the study of institutions; however, that’s a pretty vague idea. To go more in-depth, sociology looks at how groups of people behave and how they interact with society as a whole.

In sociology classes, you’ll tackle broad social theory and general concepts of human behavior in your introductory classes before getting to study specific groups, places or units. For example, you may take a class on the sociology of the family, where you’ll talk about what it means to be part of a family unit both historically and in the present-day. Then, you’ll connect other topics to your discussions. For instance, how do laws regulating family planning change how families operate? If people are getting married later, how does that affect family structure?

What is the difference between sociology, psychology and anthropology?

Many people wonder what the difference is between psychology and sociology. While the two are definitely linked (and often students may double-major in both or major in one while minoring in the other), psychology focuses on the behavior of the individual, whereas sociology focuses on the behavior of groups.

People have similar questions about sociology versus anthropology. Anthropology studies the history of the behavior of humans, so there’s definitely an added component of what the past tells us about the present.

Is It right for me?

Before you take on a sociology major, here are some key questions to ask yourself:

  • Am I a strong reader and writer? Do I look forward to reading and interpreting both original texts and the theories of others in the field?
  • Am I open-minded? How do I react if people in class make a statement or argument I don’t agree with?
  • Do I take criticism and feedback well? Will I be phased if a peer or professor disagrees with me?
  • Am I excited to do field work that requires me to spend many hours surveying a group of people, analyzing the data, and presenting it?
  • Am I willing to take on a longer research project, like a capstone or thesis?

What can I do with a sociology degree?

Some may be perplexed as to what can be done with a sociology degree, but by studying such a broad topic and also having the opportunity to concentrate, sociology majors are able to work in a variety of fields.

A small sampling of positions that sociology majors have gone on to include:

  • Professor
  • Community organizer
  • Educator
  • Activist
  • Politician
  • Political scientist
  • Non-profit aid worker
  • Social worker

What do people who majored in sociology earn?

While it certainly doesn’t apply to all sociology majors, many go into careers of public service or aid work, which means salaries won’t necessarily be high. Starting salaries range anywhere from $25,000-$40,000. However, many of these former sociology majors find their work meaningful and life-changing, which can mean even more than a paycheck.

Next, learn more about this college major such as What Types of Skills Are Best for a Sociology Major? and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as Should I Intern as a College Freshman?