Applied and Public Sociology

Utilize social science theory and methodology to address public issues in the community. Expand your scope of orientation by translating theory and research into practical applications and policies accessible to the general public. Take the knowledge learned and experience gained through our Applied and Public Sociology program to reimagine our world.

About Applied and Public Sociology

Our program emphasizes comprehensive methodological training with three distinct content areas of concentration:

  • Community and Social Justice
  • Health and Gerontology
  • Criminal Justice and Society

Much of this professional orientation in sociology is focused on working with community-based organizations and public agencies aimed at social improvements in areas such as health, poverty, and community empowerment. As a student earning an M.A. in Applied and Public Sociology, you will:

  • Use the concepts and theories of sociology, appropriate methodology, and a sensitivity to the policy process in order to connect sociological knowledge with concrete social/economic outcomes for community stakeholders.
  • Learn to engage community stakeholders, including neighborhood groups and grassroots organizations, public organizations, and private businesses, with the aim of stimulating informed public dialogue.
  • Apply empirical methods, collect and analyze information, and interpret sociological literature to help shape research goals and policy decisions in the public and private sector.
  • Master job-related and community impact skills.
  • Engage in practical field experiences for reflexive outcomes in the private/public sectors.

Our program focuses on teaching and understanding real-world problems. This professional wing of academic sociology regularly places its graduates into a variety of positions at community based organizations and public agencies. This includes fields outside of academics, with the largest sectors in Private Not-for-Profit, Government, and Health.





1-2 year

Required Credit Hours


Program Requirements

All students in the program are required to take a Seminar in Applied and Public Sociology course.
Students are required to take six credits in "methods". These courses are:
  • Research Methods in Sociology
  • Quantitative Analysis
All students must take three credits of applied social theory. These course offerings include:
  • Multiculturalism
  • Theories of Conflict
  • Organizational Theory
Students must take six elective methods credits. These course offerings include:
  • Qualitative Methods
  • GIS
  • Demographic Techniques
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Program Planning & Evaluation
You can also choose to take 1-2 credit grant-writing courses that provide short introductions to advanced methods used by professional sociologists. Topics include:
  • Community Based Research
  • Network Analysis
  • Advanced Multivariate Analysis
  • Spatial Statistics & GIS
  • Interviewing & Focus Groups
  • Field Methods
  • Survey Sampling and Questionnaire Design
  • Visual Sociological Methods
Students must complete 9 credits in a concentration within the program (all students must have a concentration).
Students can choose one of two capstone tracks: thesis or community research practicum.
  • Thesis - This option entails an individual research project involving a research design, analysis, and completion of a report or article length document.
  • Community Research Practicum - This option entails a team research project under the guidance of a faculty member and in partnership with a community organization. The research team is involved research design, analysis, and completion of a report and presentation which assists the community organization in meeting public needs.

Graduate Certificate in Applied & Public Sociology

The Applied and Public Sociology certificate program is 15-credits and be completed in one year. This is a great option for students who wish to enhance their knowledge of sociological theory and practices but would rather commit to a shorter program. 

Program Requirements:
  • Seminar in Applied & Public Sociology (3 credits)
  • Required Methods (6 credits)
  • Elective Methods (3 credits)
  • Capstone (3 credits)
    • Students will take one of the following two capstone/practicum courses: fieldwork or community research practicum.

Fieldwork will be offered each year and involve individual project onsite in with a community partner organization. Community Research Practicum will be a team project offered in conjunction with a community partner. This practicum will be offered every other year.