Applied and Public Sociology

Our M.A. program is aimed at providing you with professional skills valued in public and private sectors, especially if you are interested in criminal justice, health and gerontology and community and social justice fields.

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 to connect sociological knowledge with concrete social/economic outcomes for community stakeholders. You’ll learn to engage community stakeholders—including neighborhood groups and grassroots organizations, public organizations and private businesses—with the aim of stimulating informed public dialogue.

You’ll also employ social science theory and methodology to address public issues in the community, finding ways to expand your scope of orientation by translating theory and research into practical applications and policies accessible to the general public.

Research & the Community 

At the heart of the program is research that extends into the community. As such, you’ll 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.

To prepare for a career in the field, you’ll master job-related and community-impact skills in such areas as qualitative and quantitative research, problem solving, community engagement, social policies and trends and oral and written communication skills aimed at disseminating knowledge for academic and public audiences.

You’ll also engage in practical field experiences for reflexive outcomes in the private/public sectors. These field experiences will include internships, off-campus practicums working with a practitioner research with faculty, and service to the community through individual or class projects.


Program Information

This program blends social science theory and methodology to tackle public issues, driving positive change in criminal justice, social justice, and community health domains. Be an agent of transformation.



Academic Department



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
  • The Social Landscape: Place, Space and Society
  • Population
  • Theory and Practice of Conflict Resolution
  • Program Planning and Evaluation
  • Proposal and Grant Writing
  • Applied Community Practicum
  • Teaching Sociology Practicum
Students have the option to complete 3 credits in a concentration within the program (all students must have a concentration). Concentration offerings include:
  • Community and Social Justice
  • Health and Gerontology
  • Criminal Justice and Society

A concentration requires completion of an approved elective course in that concentration area, as well as completion of a thesis or practicum project in that concentration area.
Students can choose any two advanced elective courses that are approved by the Graduate Director. Students declaring a concentration must complete 3 credits in an elective course approved for that concentration area.
Students can choose one of two capstone tracks: thesis or community research practicum.
  • Proposal Development - This option provides mentored proposal preparation for the Thesis or Community Research Clinical Practicum under the guidance of the Thesis or Practicum Director.
  • 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 that assists the community organization in meeting public needs.

Applied & Public Sociology Areas of Concentration

Our program emphasizes comprehensive methodological training:
  • Community and social justice
  • Health and gerontology
  • Criminal justice and society

Through much of this professional orientation in sociology, you’ll focus on working with community-based organizations and public agencies aimed at social improvements in areas such as health, poverty and community empowerment.

Graduate Certificate in Applied & Public Sociology

The applied & public sociology certificate program is 15 credits and can be completed in one year. This is a great option if you wish to enhance your knowledge of sociological theory and practices but would rather commit to a shorter program.

  • Seminar in Applied & Public Sociology (3 credits)
  • Required Methods (6 credits)
  • Elective Methods (3 credits)
  • Capstone (3 credits)

As a student in the certificate track, you will take one of the following two capstone/practicum courses: Applied Community Practicum or Community Research Clinical Practicum.

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