What Can I do with a BA in Sociology

“What can I do with a BA in sociology?”

Not a bad question. As a well-established liberal arts major, sociology provides several answers you’ll want to consider. Read on, and see which parts of this flyer best apply to you and your interests. And for more information, contact Dr. Chris Chambers (c.chambers@neu.edu) or Professor Steven Vallas (s.vallas@neu.edu, or 505 Holmes).

  • Most obviously: A BA/BS in sociology is excellent preparation for future graduate work in sociology in order to become a professor, researcher, or applied sociologist.
  • Less obvious: The undergraduate degree provides a strong liberal arts preparation for entry level positions throughout the business, social service, non-profit and government worlds. Employers need people with the analytical skills and substantive knowledge on which their organizations routinely depend.
  • Since its subject matter is intrinsically relevant to many domains, sociology offers a flexible path into careers in social services, business, public administration, non-profits, public relations and marketing, government, and other such fields.
  • Many students choose sociology because they see it as a broad liberal arts base for professions such as law, education, medicine, social work, and counseling. Sociology provides a rich fund of knowledge that directly pertains to each of these fields.

Nearing Graduation? Here are Seven Steps to Take

Although few occupations include “sociologist” in their title at the bachelor’s level, the sociological perspective positions you to pursue a wide variety of entry-level occupations. You should…

  1. Gain experience through internships and co-op. Talk with your adviser about how to link your coursework and your co-op.
  2. Think about a minor that complements your training in sociology, and signals your interest in a particular domain. Business, Women’s Studies, Human Services, Urban Studies, International Affairs –all these are helpful!
  3. Pursue extra-curricular interests that connect you with organizations of various types.
  4. Join a professional association (American Sociological Association, Society for the Study of Social Problems, the Eastern Sociological Society are highly informative bodies with job-relevant links).
  5. If you’re interested in research (and even if not), be sure to take your methods and statistics courses early in your studies. When you’re a junior would be ideal, for this equips you to compete for research co-ops. Knowing how to analyze research findings, how to use the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS), and how to write research reports are all highly useful skills!
  6. Talk with your adviser about writing a senior paper as you complete your studies. There are many ways to accomplish this. The paper can provide an indication of your abilities to future employers and graduate programs.
  7. Think about “bundling” your courses in ways that position you to pursue a particular field. Thus:
  • Majors who study deviance, social problems, urban communities, or crime can pursue careers with community-based organizations, local, state, or federal government, the justice system, and kindred domains.
  • Majors who study work and organizations may pursue careers in human resources management (personnel) and employment/ industrial relations, labor unions, and community-based organizations.
  • Students who especially enjoy research design, statistics, and data analysis seek positions in marketing, public relations, organizational research, and program evaluation.
  • Courses in economic sociology, racial and ethnic diversity, social conflict and globalization can lead toward positions in management, international business, and NGOs (especially with a business minor).
  • Likewise, training in urban sociology, economic development, health care disparities, the environment, or conflict and violence can position you for careers in city government, regional planning, health care organizations, and social service entities.

Regardless of your career path, the breadth of your preparation in sociology will give you the ability to write clearly, to conduct effective oral presentations, to think critically, to analyze data, and to understand bodies of knowledge about any given social issue –all these skills will be helpful to you throughout your career.

As you near the job market…

  • Realize that interviewers will seek applicants who can easily adapt to organizational life, whether in the private, public, or non-profit sectors.
    o In particular, this means the ability to work well with others as part of a team.
    o Employers value graduates who have excellent grades, strong methodological and analytical training, a keen understanding of the impact of cultural, racial, and gender diversity in the workplace, and who comprehend the global nature of business and industry.
  • Do informational interviews in various fields, to learn how hiring happens, what career opportunities exist, and how job ladders work.
  • Take advantage of Career Services. Their services will be available to you as an alumnus for years. But don’t wait until graduation nears.

For more information, visit the department website, talk with your adviser, and contact the department chair with any questions you might have.