In this article, we list the top ranked and most affordable online master's in sociology degree programs for 2017.

As the most social of animals, humans create intricate, highly complex structures in their relationships, communities, and social institutions. Sociologists explore the various facets of human interaction, examining every aspect of social actions and consciousness, from religion to politics to family structures to subcultures. Since it encompasses the entirety of human social experience, sociology as a field offers nearly limitless potential for research and practical application. Sociologists examine human interactions both to better understand patterns of behavior and to improve quality of life for individuals, communities, and the world at large. As technology leads to increasingly rapid and profound societal change, the work of sociologists becomes more important than ever, since it seeks to understand the reasons for human behavior. If you're interested in entering or advancing in this vital field, an online sociology master's degree serves as an important step, leading to either a career or further study at the doctoral level.


We reviewed a total of 42 accredited institutions that offered an online master's in sociology, social work, social science, or closely related program. This initial pool of schools was collected from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) College Navigator. We then narrowed this group to only those colleges and universities with rankings from major publications like Forbes magazine, The Princeton Review, or U.S. News and World Report. From the resulting list we selected the most affordable schools based on in-state graduate tuition/fees published by NCES College Navigator. We listed our top 5 schools in order of affordability.

Below are the resulting selections for the top 5 most affordable online master's in sociology degree programs.

#5 – Morehead State University

Online Master's in Social Sciences

Morehead, Kentucky


Based in Morehead, Kentucky, MSU 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-credit masters in sociology online core includes five courses: quantitative research for social sciences, globalization, social thought and theory, quantitative research methods, and proseminar 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.

More information on Morehead State University

#4 – Ohio University

Online Master of Social Sciences

Athens, Ohio


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. This interdisciplinary degree covers social science 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.

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#3 – South Dakota State University

Online Master's in Sociology–Community Development

Brookings, South Dakota


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. 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. The program includes four unique emphasis areas: working with Native communities, building economic capacity, natural resource management, and nonprofit management.

More information South Dakota State University

#2 – University of Alabama

Online Master's in Sociology

Birmingham, Alabama


Alabama's flagship public college, UA 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. Student fulfill remaining credit requirements with several elective courses, including options such as consumer culture 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.

More information on the University of Alabama

#1 – New Mexico State University

Online Master's in Sociology

Las Cruces, New Mexico


A major public college based in Las Cruces, NMSU offers a fully online master of arts in sociology. This 36-credit degree explores the relationship between individuals and society, offering tools to better understand and improve human relationships. The program covers topics such as research design, organizational analysis, the assessment of social change, and diversity management. The curriculum examines a variety of sociological perspectives and includes courses in sex and gender, the sociology of pop culture, sociology of the family, and social issues of the rural Americas. Students complete all courses online, with no campus visits required.

More information on New Mexico State University

This concludes our ranking of the top 10 most affordable online master's in sociology degree programs for 2017.