Sociology is an excellent major applicable to numerous fields of study at the postgraduate level.
Why consider graduate school?
Graduate school can be academically, personally and financially rigorous; however, graduate school also can make a substantive difference in your career and earning potential, for many good reasons, including:
- Personal Growth
- Some people are lifelong learners. They have an insatiable desire to add to their knowledge reservoir, challenge themselves academically, and experience what they consider to be among the most rewarding life pursuits: developing the mind. For these individuals, graduate education offers the opportunity to do all of that in a structured way that can deliver great personal satisfaction.
- Greater employment opportunities
- In many career sectors, such as higher education administration, public affairs and social services, a master's degree is replacing a baccalaureate as the minimum requirement for employment. In the 1980s, a bachelor's degree was sufficient to secure an entry-level position as an admissions counselor, academic advisor, or student services coordinator. That changed by the 2000s. Since then, applicants for these same entry-level positions may not be given consideration without a master's degree. While holding a graduate degree is not a guarantee of ultimate success, it certainly opens many more doors for employment.
- Greater career advancement
- Earning a graduate degree is evidence of persistence, determination, intellectual prowess and the ability to handle challenging environments — all of which are sought-after qualities for individuals filling manager and director positions. An employee who has demonstrated success in a long-term situation that requires stamina, discipline, leadership, and the ability to work well with others is going to be in line for growth opportunities within his or her organization.
- Financial reward
- Anyone considering graduate school should consider the potential return on investment. For grad degree holders, the numbers are favorable: U.S. workers between the ages of 21 and 64 with a master's degree or higher earn an average annual salary of $55,242, versus those with a bachelor's degree whose average annual salary is $42,877, according to the United States Census Bureau. That constitutes a difference of nearly 30 percent in average annual salary — and offers clear evidence that completing a graduate degree can have measurable financial implications.
- Sense of accomplishment
- The feeling of personal satisfaction from walking across the platform to receive a master's or doctoral degree is overwhelming. The effort put forth to complete your studies, despite moments of doubt and uncertainty, will stand as a central character-building life experience.
- Greater recognition and credibility
Countless numbers of graduate degree holders have gone on to accomplish great things, and are afforded the respect and recognition they deserve and have earned. Unquestionably, an advanced degree makes a difference on a résumé. It says something about who you are and the dedication you have to your chosen field.
(Source: U.S. News & World Report)
How to get started
To make certain that you have a clear sense of how you want to proceed once you've completed your undergraduate work in sociology, check into the appropriate preparation work now. Talk to professors and graduate students about graduate school possibilities. Excellent pre-graduate advising services are available through the UC Davis Student Academic Success Center's Pre-Graduate/Professional School Advising program as well. You also can investigate various graduate programs on your own.
Department of Sociology faculty members serve as an invaluable resource when preparing for graduate work, so talk with them. Faculty members are well versed in how to proceed with preparation for graduate work, they can make recommendations about which institutions to consider and they can serve as a sounding board for your ideas and plans. Furthermore, faculty members may write letters of recommendation for students with whom they have developed a rapport.
Connect with sociology graduate students. After all, they recently went through the graduate school admissions process and can describe their experiences thus far in graduate school.
Be sure to use all available resources in your deliberations about an advanced degree program. If you need help choosing the master's program best suited to your goals, or, if you are interested in Ph.D. programs, talk to a Department of Sociology faculty member.