Why Public Sociology?

What is Public Sociology?

Public Sociology is the use of sociological theory and methods (research skills) to enact social change with and for the general public. It involves using our sociological imaginations to understand, analyze, and evaluate concrete social problems, then use evidence-based solutions to create systemic social change. It is taking theory and methods, and putting them into practice--an Applied Sociology. Learn more about Public Sociology. External Link

HSU Public Sociology: Social Justice and Action

Why HSU Public Sociology? The Master's Program in Public Sociology is unique and exciting for many reasons:

  • It is one of only a few Public Sociology programs in the United States.

  • It is also part of the Western Regional Graduate Program External Link, which means students with residency in any of the Western states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) can pay in-state tuition to study Public Sociology at Humboldt State University.

  • Graduates of the Public Sociology graduate program have a strong foundation in social inequality, especially in terms of race/ethnicity, class, gender and environmental sociology. No matter where your sociological passions lie, we give you a foundation to make connections between yourself, your social world, and the environment.

    Turn you Sociological Imagination
    into Social Action

  • The Public Sociology program at HSU takes everything you loved learning about in your undergraduate sociology courses (such as social inequality, criminology, the environment and/or constructions of race, class, gender, and sexuality) and it prepares you to either educate others, or work for social justice. Even if you did not study Sociology as an undergraduate, you will find the Master’s program to be a way to bridge your interests and goals with real life, practical research skills to help you explore and solve social problems.

  • Public Sociology is a crucial part of the broader discipline of Sociology, recognizing that we, as advocates of social change, must both study inequality from the academy, but also put what we know into practice in the “real world,” informing public policy and educating others.

  • A Master’s Degree in Public Sociology is great preparation for students wanting to enter the work force, or a Ph.D. program in Sociology. This includes a focus on research methodology and statistics, which can be used in academic jobs, as well as the non-profit sector, or many private sector jobs.

  • We offer opportunities to gain research experience and skills with campus and community research institutes.
why public sociology quote The HSU Master’s Program in Public Sociology fosters a network of students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members who are committed to social action. Public Sociology represents work that takes sociological knowledge and skills beyond the academy, into communities where these resources are needed. Whether speaking about media and violence or consulting with a non-profit on a community survey, the work of our faculty and students is tightly interwoven with our local communities.

Program Emphases

MA students choose an experience emphasis in either Practicing Sociology or Teaching Sociology:

Practicing Sociology

Students emphasizing Practicing Sociology choose to specialize in either program evaluation or community action. Sociology faculty members, along with the Sociology and Criminology Community Advisory Board, cultivate a range of field placement opportunities for students emphasizing Public Sociology. Students develop their specialization by drawing on coursework, carefully selecting a field placement and working with faculty mentors.The emphasis in Practicing Sociology prepares students for professional positions in research, business, government and non-profits organizations.

Teaching Sociology

The Teaching Sociology emphasis introduces students to pedagogy and theories of learning, while providing experience with college classroom teaching. Students explore issues unique to Sociology classrooms, while developing approaches effective for education across multiple settings. The emphasis in Teaching Sociology prepares students for community college and other education-related professional positions.

Regardless of their experience emphasis, our alumni graduate with a solid foundation in social theory and social research that is marked by a departmental commitment and curricular integration of public sociology, ecological justice, as well as knowledge and skills for social action. Either emphasis is appropriate for students who wish to continue their graduate study in a Ph.D. program.

Conditional Program Admission

Students who lack adequate undergraduate preparation in sociological theory and methods may receive conditional program admission.  Conditionally admitted students must complete with an “A-“ or better all or some of the following undergraduate courses:

STAT 108 Elementary Statistics (4 units)
SOC 310   Sociological Theory (4 units)
SOC 382   Intro to Social Research (4 units)

Field Site Placement Requirements

Students emphasizing Practicing Sociology are required to complete 240 hours of field placement work that may include up to 40 hours of academic administrative work such as scheduling and meeting with faculty advisors, preparing and submitting required reporting and evaluation information, and formatting final products as required by the graduate school.   Students should work closely with the Graduate Coordinator to identify a placement that will best support their interests and long-term goals, as well as provide them with experience in either program evaluation or community action.

Teaching Assistantship

Students emphasizing Teaching Sociology are required to complete a Teaching Assistantship with one of the department faculty. This will require approximately 20 hours per week, and require attending class, learning about the pedagogy of Sociology, course preparations and administrative duties related to the course, supervised by the faculty member. Students should work closely with the Graduate Coordinator to identify an assistantship that will best support their interests and long-term goals, as well as provide them with experience in teaching at the college level.

What can I do with an M.A. in Sociology?

why public sociology quote 2 HSU Public Sociology opens up a diverse and powerful array of resources to you to cater your experience to your interests and goals. In our program, you become part of a network of activists and scholars that are passionate about helping you turn your sociological imagination into social action. We can support your goals if you want to learn more about community organizing, grant writing, social movements, college teaching, environmental stewardship, academic research, criminology and much, much more.

Look through the list of faculty and staff for our department, and around the university, to see how we can support your goals.

Preparation for a Ph.D. program

Graduates with an M.A. in Public Sociology from Humboldt State University will have the solid background in sociological theory, research methods, and quantitative analysis that one needs to be successful in a Ph.D. program. You will have the opportunity to write a thesis, which should transfer to research-based Ph.D. programs.

Preparation for the work force

Graduates with an M.A. in Public Sociology from Humboldt State University have solid skills will make a resume stand out in the crowd, but also have the critical thinking skills to be successful in a wide variety of careers. By the time you complete your degree, you will have experience with designing and conducting your own research, performing high-level data analysis, making academic presentations, and reading and writing at a high level. You will be well prepared to enter the non-profit, public or private work force with the ability to think critically about social forces, and how to solve social problems through research and/or action.

Former Sociology graduates from Humboldt State University have gone on to be social workers, to work for non-profit agencies, to work in law enforcement, and to work in various academic jobs—just to name a few!

Learn more about what you can do with a Master’s degree in Sociology:

From the American Sociological Association:

Other Sociology Career Resources: