The Top 5 Affordable Online Master’s in Sociology Degrees of 2021

The Top 5 Affordable Online Master’s in Sociology Degrees of 2021

The study of human behavior, society, and the structures we develop is called sociology. A master’s degree in sociology will prepare you for careers studying and influencing cultures and structures within communities, workplaces, and systems.

On average, a sociologist earns a median annual salary of $86,110, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).Tuition for an online sociology master’s degree can range from $8,000 to $20,000, depending on your program and resident status. With fairly lucrative careers available to you upon graduation, you can expect a reasonable return on your investment.

Accredited Online College Programs

Most Affordable Master’s Programs in Sociology of 2021

  1. New Mexico State University
    Location

    Las Cruces, NM

    The 36-credit master of arts in sociology at New Mexico State University explores the relationship between individuals and society, offering tools to better understand and improve human relationships. 

    The program covers topics such as classical social theory, qualitative research, and quantitative analysis. The curriculum examines a variety of sociological perspectives and includes electives in social inequality, education, migration, the U.S.-Mexico border, pop culture, environmental sociology, and social psychology, among others. Students complete all courses online, with no campus visits required.

    • Graduation rate: 51%
    • School status (public/private): Public
    • Number of programs offered: 150+ grad programs, with 75+ online
    • City location: Las Cruces, New Mexico
    • Admission requirements: Undergraduate graduate transcript and GPA ≥ 3.0, purpose statement, three recommendation letters, and a record of ethical behavior. 
    • Standardized test scores/requirements (is the GRE required and what is the average score for admission): Not required
    • Contact: 
    • Website
  2. University of Alabama
    Location

    Birmingham, AL

    The University of Alabama at Birmingham hosts a variety of distance education programs, including an online master of arts in applied sociology. Comprising 30 credits and nine total courses, this online sociology master's degree includes four required core courses: applied sociological research methods, applied sociological theory, applied sociology, and applied social psychology. 

    Students can choose from several elective courses, including healthcare delivery systems, health disparities, and the sociology of death and dying. Degree candidates can also complete an applied sociology practicum that stresses innovation and creativity in professional practice. All students conclude the program with a six-credit, research-based capstone that synthesizes overall program learning. 

    • Graduation rate: 61%
    • School status (public/private): Public
    • Number of programs offered: 175+ grad programs, 60+ available online
    • City location: Birmingham, Alabama
    • Admission requirements: Bachelor’s or master’s degree including at least 12 hours of social science coursework, GPA ≥ 3.0 or ≥ 3.2 for the past 60 hours in a bachelor’s program, and GPA ≥ 3.0 for any previous graduate program. In some cases, students who do not meet these requirements may still be considered, given their experience, goal statement, and letters of recommendation.  
    • Standardized test scores/requirements (is the GRE required and what is the average score for admission): Not required
    • Contact: 
    • Website
  3. South Dakota State University
    Location

    Brookings, SD

    The largest and oldest public college in South Dakota, SDSU hosts an assortment of online programs, including a unique master of science in sociology – community development. This interdisciplinary degree applies the principles of sociology to practices of community development, training students to address economic, cultural, social, and environmental challenges in communities. 

    The program offers opportunities to study various unique electives, such as community and regional planning, natural resource management, Native American studies, economics, and nonprofit management. Offering a flexible modular course format, the fully online sociology master's degree caters to the needs of working students, making it easy to complete coursework alongside personal and professional obligations.

    • Graduation rate: 59%
    • School status (public/private): Public
    • Number of programs offered: 110+ grad programs, with 15+ master’s degrees you can earn online
    • City location: Brookings, South Dakota 
    • Admission requirements: Bachelor’s degree, two recommendation letters, writing sample, and personal statement.
    • Standardized test scores/requirements (is the GRE required and what is the average score for admission): The GRE is not required; international students will need a score of 525 on the paper-based TOEFL, 71 on the internet-based TOEFL, an IELTS score of 6.0, or a Duolingo English Test score of 100. 
    • Contact: 
    • Website
  4. Ohio University
    Location

    Athens, OH

    Based in Athens, Ohio University offers a unique, fully online master of social sciences degree. Geared toward teachers and public administrators, the program emphasizes both social science content and teaching methods, enabling graduates to teach dual enrollment courses that count for both high school and college credit. 

    In addition to the field of sociology, this interdisciplinary degree covers topics from five main perspectives: history, geography, political science, anthropology, and gender and sexuality studies. Courses use a fully online, asynchronous format that enables students to complete coursework at their own pace. At the end of the program, all candidates must complete a proctored final exam at an approved testing center.

    • Graduation rate: 66%
    • School status (public/private): Public
    • Number of programs offered: 170+ grad programs, 30 of which are online
    • City location: Athens, Ohio
    • Admission requirements: Bachelor’s degree from an accredited school, undergraduate GPA ≥ 3.0, and a brief personal statement.
    • Standardized test scores/requirements (is the GRE required and what is the average score for admission): The GRE is not required. If you are a non-native English speaker, you will need a score of 104 or higher for the TOEFL-iBT, scoring at least 26 for each section; or, you can complete the IELTS, and you must reach at least a 7.5 on all bands.
    • Contact phone: 
      • graduate@ohio.edu
      • (740) 593-2800
    • Website
  5. Morehead State University
    Location

    Morehead, KY

    Morehead State University offers a master of arts in sociology with four concentrations: criminology, chemical dependency, interdisciplinary social sciences, and general sociology. 

    Each track requires a total of 30 credits, split between 15 credits of core courses and 15 credits of concentration courses. The 15 core credits include five courses: quantitative research for social sciences, globalization, social thought and theory, quantitative research methods, and an introductory seminar in social science. 

    Each concentration track offers a different selection of electives, and most tracks include both thesis and non-thesis completion options. Candidates complete either a six-credit research thesis or an additional two elective courses.

    • Graduation rate: 43%
    • School status (public/private): Public 
    • Number of programs offered: 30+ graduate degrees, 19 online graduate degrees
    • City location: Morehead, Kentucky
    • Admission requirements: A bachelor’s degree from an accredited school, overall GPA ≥ 2.75 and a minimum GPA of 3.0 for all sociology courses, and a goal statement. In addition, you must also have 18 credit hours of undergraduate study in sociology or a related field. 
    • Standardized test scores/requirements (is the GRE required and what is the average score for admission): The GRE is not required for this program; international students will need to score at least 525 on the TOEFL.
    • Contact:
    • Website

  • Our Methodology, Explained


    Grad School Hub compiles rankings based on public data released from educational, commercial, and government databases. Sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics play a significant role in how we source our educational data. After collecting insight for each institution, we organize information into five weighted categories.































    Metric Data Used Percentage
    Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 20%
    Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 40%
    Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 15%
    Program Offerings Number of program options 15%
    Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 10%

    A more comprehensive evaluation of how each category is determined and scored is accessible on our Ranking Methodology page.

Have Questions About An Online Master’s in Sociology, We Have Answers.

  • What can I do with a master’s in sociology?

    A master’s in sociology can set you up for many careers in fields like social work, human services, policy-making, education, law enforcement, and research. With a master’s you may qualify for upper-level management positions. People with master’s degrees in sociology may also work closely with economists, educators, and statisticians to understand societal trends and influence policy.

  • Is a masters in sociology worth it?

    Advanced degrees typically increase your salary potential. You can earn more money with a master’s in sociology, though it will depend on your field and employer. A master’s degree will also increase your expertise and allow you to choose specializations.

  • How much is a master’s in sociology?

    Tuition costs for a master’s in sociology will depend on the program, the university’s reputation, and whether you’ll be charged out-of-state tuition. Our favorite programs range in price from $8,000 to $20,000.

  • How long does it take to earn a master’s degree in sociology?

    With many online master’s degree programs, the amount of time to complete the program will depend on how many courses you are enrolled in at one time. This allows you to adjust and balance your academic load with work and life. The programs we’ve listed take 18 to 36 months to complete on average.

  • What programs are similar to master’s degrees in sociology?

    Because the field of sociology is the study of society, it overlaps with other fields that have to do with people and their behaviors. If you’re interested in the social sciences at large, you may want to explore other programs. For example, master’s degrees in history analyze past civilizations and political events. On the other end of the spectrum, master’s degrees in behavioral psychology focus on human behavior and its connection to mental health, usually for the purpose of becoming a counselor or therapist.

  • How much money can I make with a master’s in sociology?

    Your earning potential will depend on the setting you work in and your role. Here are some of the 2020 median annual wages for jobs that graduates with master’s degrees in sociology often hold, per the BLS:

Affordable Master’s Programs in Sociology Online Overview

An advanced sociology degree will explore society and human behavior at a deeper level. You’ll be tasked with developing and researching your own thesis or project related to sociology. 

Some master’s programs will offer a specialization or concentration like:

  • Community development
  • Global development
  • Medical sociology
  • Social data
  • Social inequality
  • Sociology of religion
  • Law and society

A master’s degree typically takes about two years, though some programs can be completed closer to 18 months. Graduates can then go on to pursue careers as sociologists, social workers, researchers, professors, and more.

Why Should I Get a Sociology Master’s Degree? 

Increase your salary potential
The BLS reports that a master’s graduate earns an average of $12,000 more per year than a bachelor’s graduate. Salary potential will vary by job, too. For example, social workers with a master’s degree can earn 25% more than those with a bachelor’s degree, while social and human service assistants can earn 35% more. 
Expand your expertise

Master’s degrees allow you to specialize your education and set you up for specific career fields. You can choose concentrations and dive deeper into your field of study. Graduates can expect to emerge as experts in their area of specialization.

Career advancement
Many sociology career paths require a master’s degree for entry-level positions. Completing more education will help you advance in your career and become qualified for promotions.
Pursue academia

If your passion lies in teaching others, researching, and crafting theories — you can pursue an academic career in sociology. Academia oftens requires advanced degrees in order to become a prominent member of that community.

What Are the Career Options for a Master’s of Sociology Graduate?

Sociology graduates can apply their degree to many career paths and typically expect an annual salary between $52,000 and $86,000. According to the BLS, sociologists earn a median annual salary of $86,110. The field is also expected to grow 4% over the next ten years. 


If you’re looking for a more local and community oriented way to apply your degree, the social and community service manager career field is expected to grow 17% through 2029 and has a median annual salary of $69,600. 

CareerMedian Annual SalaryProjected Growth Rate (2019-2029)
Sociologist$86,1104%
Social Worker$51,76013%
Survey Researcher$59,870-4%
Psychologist$82,1803%
Social and Community Service Manager$69,60017%

Similar Programs

Best Master’s in Social Work Most Affordable Master’s in Human and Family Development Most Affordable Master’s in Human Services

Courses in an Online Master’s in Sociology Degree

    Courses vary widely depending on the master’s program you choose and whether or not it has an emphasis. Some sociology master’s degrees will focus on community development, while others may focus on law. There are some foundational and common courses that you may take.

  • Sociological Research Methods

    This course covers research methods for social sciences. You’ll learn how to:

    • Develop a research process
    • Collect data
    • Design and measure that data
    • Draw conclusions

  • Society and Individual

    In this course, you’ll examine culture and how society impacts and influences individuals. The course will cover current theory and research in comparison to historical assumptions. 

  • Media and society

    Media and society covers the impact of media, technology, and pop culture on social life. You’ll also learn how global cultures impact other societies. The course may also explore the media’s impact on violence and tensions with race, gender, and sexuality.

  • Sociology of Religion

    This course will teach you the relationships between religious institutions, social structure, and the individual. Sociology of religion may or may not be particularly focused on American society.

Admission Requirements 

Each university’s program will have varying admission requirements, but there are a few universal benchmarks. A master’s program in sociology will require a bachelor’s degree in a related field, and a minimum GPA usually around 3.0. 

Many graduate programs will also ask for letters of recommendation and a personal essay outlining your career goals. More competitive programs may ask for professional work experience.  

While GRE or GMAT scores are recommended, not every program will require you to take the test. 

Certifications and Licenses for Master’s in Sociology Graduates

Most licenses or certifications for sociologists are voluntary. Many careers in this field don’t require licensure. Specific industries may have sub certifications as well — like a social work license. 

Certified Applied Sociologist (C.A.S.)

A certification from the Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology (AACS) for practicing sociologists who wish to demonstrate excellence in their field. You must meet a minimum number of professional service hours. This certificate is for sociologists whose work is in research, data, and theory. 

Certified Clinical Sociologist (C.C.S.)

Issued by the American Association of Healthcare Administrative

Also from the AACS, for professional sociologists with a minimum number of professional work hours who wish to have evidence of their excellence in the field. This certificate is for sociologists whose work is in the clinical field, with focus on applying theory to groups of people and public policy.

Professional Organizations for Careers in Sociology 

Professionals in the sociology field can look to national organizations for resources, education, networking opportunities, certifications, and up-to-date professional development. 

Scholarships, Grants, and Financial Aid for Sociology Students

Many organizations, associations, and universities offer funding assistance for sociology students. Check with your school first and then look to prominent organizations within your field. 

As you advance in your educational journey, grants and fellowships become increasingly specific to the research you conduct and specializations you choose. 

Rieger Thesis/Dissertation Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Graduate students working in visual sociology, awarded based on their master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation.

Amount: $1,000

Deadline: Varies

Master’s Thesis and Dissertation Research Awards

Who Can Apply: For graduate students majoring in sociology. Students must submit their master’s thesis on a sociological topic and a letter of recommendation from a faculty member.

Amount: $2,500 

Deadline: Varies

J.W. Saxe Memorial Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Sociology students who need support while undertaking an unpaid or low-paying internship in public service. Must submit an essay, letters of reference, and exhibit strong integrity. 

Amount: $2,000

Deadline: Varies

Dr. Alma S. Adams Scholarships

Who Can Apply: Students pursuing degrees in sociology, social work, public health, education, or communications. Must exhibit financial need, maintain a 3.0 GPA, display evidence of community service, and create a public message aimed at tobacco prevention.

Amount: $5,000

Deadline: Varies

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Lyss Welding

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Lyss Welding is a staff writer who covers education content for Best Value Schools, Grad School Hub, and Criminal Justice Degree Schools, among others. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in linguistics. Since, she has worked in academic environments as a curriculum specialist and in corporate environments writing about training and educational resources for employees and jobseekers.

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Angelica Leicht

Angelica Leicht is an editor for Grad School Hub. A proud University of Houston alum (go Cougs!), she previously served as an education reporter at Kearney Hub, and an editor at the Dallas Observer and Houston Press. Her writing has appeared in Affordable Colleges Online, Bankrate, The Simple Dollar, and elsewhere.

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