About the Graduate Program

Master of Science in Sociology

The M.S. program in the VCU Sociology Department prepares students for positions in teaching, research and applied fields. It serves primarily two types of students: those aiming for PhD programs or research-intensive professional positions (who typically complete a masters thesis option) and those who wish to use sociological analysis to inform their professional work in a wide variety of settings (who typically complete the applied program). In addition to the two options, the program offers two different instructional modalities: on-campus and online. The thesis option must be taken as an on-campus student. The applied option is available to both on-campus and online students. The curriculum requirements and academic regulations for the online and on-campus modalities of the applied option are identical. Students who desire to take their courses online must enroll as online applied option students at the beginning of their program and continue in that program until graduation.

Thesis and applied option students share a common core of theory, research methods, and social statistics courses. However, the course requirements of the two options beyond the core vary somewhat. See the sections of this site describing the options for details. Students who are interested in pursuing a PhD should consider the thesis option. Students who are interested in pursuing a professional position should consider the applied option. Students are strongly encouraged to discuss these alternatives with sociology faculty members. Both academic options are intended to provide students with a strong background in sociological theory, methods, and a variety of substantive topical areas. All students must complete a minimum of 36 semester hours, as approved, with an overall grade point average of 3.0 or above. A student who does not maintain a 3.0 average may be dropped from the master’s program at any time.

The faculty of the program spans a broad spectrum of expertise.  (See faculty list for interest areas.) Students seeking a general background in the rudiments of sociological analysis will be exposed to a systematic course of study including basic research methods, social statistics, and the foundations of sociological theory.  Other courses are offered, reflecting substantive areas of departmental strength such as gender, medical sociology, social stratification, environmental sociology, labor, and violence.

Our program recognizes that many sociologists not only seek to understand social problems, but also work to identify viable alternatives to existing conditions and contribute toward responsible social change. Building on this philosophy, our program focus seeks to bridge basic and applied research. This general approach to social problems and social change accommodates a wide array of specific interest areas, such as race, health care, crime, economic inequality, gender, family, environment, and others. The goal of the master’s program is to develop well-trained sociologists who may choose a variety of career options and who are capable of initiating, evaluating, and adapting to changes in the field.

Students interested in applying to the VCU Sociology M.S. program should follow the instructions on the VCU Graduate Admissions website. Prospective online applied option students should indicate their interest in that option on the application form if an opportunity to do so is available and in their essay/personal statement.

For further information, please contact:

Julie Honnold, PhD
Graduate Program Director
Phone: (804) 828-6680
Email: jhonn@vcu.edu