M.S. in Sociology

Our fully online Master of Science program recognizes that many sociologists seek to both understand social problems and identify viable solutions for responsible social change.

Building on this philosophy, our program seeks to bridge theoretical and applied research in an intellectual environment that fosters critical thinking about topics such as racism, health care, the environment, economic inequality, gender and family issues. Our goal is to develop well-trained sociologists capable of initiating changes in settings including social service agencies, nonprofits, the military or businesses.

Our M.S. degree provides students with: 

  • A sophisticated understanding of sociological concepts and theories
  • Facility in the use of sociological research methods
  • The ability to apply sociological methods and theory to areas of professional interest

All courses offered are online, and students are not required to come to the VCU campus at any time during their studies.

For a full overview, admission requirements and degree requirements, please visit the VCU Graduate Bulletin.

Concentration in Digital Sociology

The M.S in Sociology with a concentration in digital sociology is a first-of-its-kind. Coursework for the concentration is completed as part of the M.S. in sociology degree. 

Digital sociology studies how inequalities are reproduced and enhanced in online spaces. Our program is skill-based, focusing on both the technological and theoretical skills needed to study the digital world. Admitted students will be given an orientation to the technologies and processes used in the program. Emphasis is on use of open (free) technologies and minimal equipment.

Digital sociology has four main components:

  • Professional digital practice: Use digital tools as part of professional practice – build networks, construct e-portfolios, build online profiles, publicize and share research
  • Analysis of digital technology use: Researching the ways in which people's use of digital technologies configures their sense of self and their embodiment of social relations, the role of digital media in the creation or reproduction of social institutions and structures
  • Digital data analysis: Use naturally occurring digital data for social research
  • Critical praxis: Reflexive analysis of digital technologies and power with informed social and cultural theory

Students should enroll in the program at the beginning of their graduate work and remain in the program until completion of the degree.

Thesis, Practicum and Internship

The thesis, internship, and practicum options are all designed to provide students with a strong core of theory, research methods and social statistics courses.

The thesis option prepares students for further academic research, while the internship and practicum options equip students with research skills they can use to survey clients, assess programs and carry out evidence-based work. Students are encouraged to discuss the options with sociology faculty members, who offer a wide spectrum of expertise and are dedicated mentors.

  • Thesis: Students who choose to complete a thesis will develop and publicly defend their M.S. thesis during the second year of the program. Students will work under the guidance of a thesis committee, including the thesis adviser, who must be a member of the sociology department, and two committee members, one of whom must be from outside the department.
  • Practicum: A practicum in sociology is a learning experience through practice. Students train to use relevant data analysis skills combined with academic inquiry to construct a product that is useful to their chosen field. The successful completion of a practicum in sociology may also enhance the student's employment credentials.
  • Internship: The internship is a professional experience in the student's field of interest. For most students, it will be a first professional experience. A student currently employed in an appropriate organization may propose to intern in that position, provided there are opportunities for integrating sociological theories and methodologies with ongoing professional activities.