Graduate Degree Program

Public Sociology, Ecological Justice and Action

The Master’s Program in Sociology fosters a network of students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members who are committed to public sociology, ecological justice and action.  Public Sociology represents work that takes sociological knowledge and skills beyond the confines of the academy into the communities where these resources are much needed.  Whether speaking to girls and boys about media, gender and violence or consulting with a non-profit on a community survey on corporatization and locally owned business, the work of our faculty and students is tightly interwoven with our local communities.

The concept of ecological justice emphasizes a holistic understanding of the relationships between people, built and “natural” systems and environments, as well as the social implications of particular structures and relationships.  Race, Class, Gender and Nation are central to analysis, as well as strategies for action.  The action component emphasized in our program is tightly linked to the idea of Public Sociology.  Yet, action represents for us a particular type of Public Sociology: We understand action as social change work that draws heavily on knowledge of social movements, community organizing and conflict resolution as particular plans are strategized, implemented and evaluated. 

MA students choose an experience emphasis in either Public Sociology or Teaching Sociology.  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.   Students emphasizing Public Sociology choose to specialize in either program evaluation or community action. Sociology faculty members, along with the Sociology Master’s 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 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 Public Sociology prepares students for professional positions in research, business, government and non-profits organizations. The emphasis in Teaching Sociology prepares students for community college and other education-related professional positions.  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)
SOC 410   Contemporary Social Theory (4 units)


Field Site Placement Requirements

Students emphasizing Public 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.