Public Sociology, M.A.

Turn your Values into Action with a Master's Degree in Public Sociology

Whether you are a recent graduate or a working professional, our Master's Degree in Public Sociology can take you, and your career to the next level. Working professionals can get their degree part time, or full time, taking evening classes. Students from 17 Western States pay in-state tuition - learn more here.

Our Masters program is unique, with an explicit focus on Public Sociology. Public Sociology takes sociological knowledge and skills beyond the confines of the academy into the communities where these resources are much needed. In other words, we teach students to translate their work for the non-academic world and impact communities.

Our students focus on both Teaching and Practicing Sociology, while developing capacities to build socially just communities inside and outside the classroom. Our program is a good fit for students who would like to build a career without needing a PhD (e.g. leading a non-profit, managing a government agency, or teach at a Community College). Our program also provides great preparation for students who plan to pursue a doctorate: many of our alumni have earned PhDs and work at colleges and universities across the country.

In the Teaching Sociology emphasis, students learn cutting-edge pedagogical practices, and receive both hands-on experience and close mentorship. This is great preparation for teaching at a community college, facilitating and leading groups, designing educational materials, or securing a teaching assistantship in a PhD program.
In the Practicing Sociology emphasis, students develop into well-trained and valuable applied sociologists. They build their skills through classes, a 240-hour placement with a community partner, paid research opportunities, and their thesis/capstone work. The emphasis in Practicing Sociology prepares students for professional positions in research, business, government, non-profits organizations and activist organizations.

All our students develop advanced skills in qualitative and quantitative research, frameworks (theory) needed for complex analytical thinking and problem solving, advanced professional communication skills including writing, speaking, and presentations, and equity minded orientations to create a just and inclusive communities and workplaces. Either emphasis is appropriate for students who wish to continue their graduate study in a Ph.D. program. See the Public Sociology Planning Guide for details.

How can I prepare for an M.A. in Public Sociology?

Students accepted into the Public Sociology Master's Program generally have a strong foundation in sociological/social theory, research methods, and statistics (SPSS preferred, but not required). If you have not taken those courses, there is a chance you could be conditionally admitted, but you would be required to take one or more courses before you could enroll in graduate courses to ensure you are adequately prepared to succeed in the program.

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

The Master’s Degree in Public Sociology from Cal Poly Humboldt opens up a diverse and powerful array of resources to you to cater your experience to your interests and goals. In the Public Sociology program, you become part of a network of activists and scholars that are passionate about helping you turn your sociological imagination into social action. The Department, and the University can support your goals if you want to learn more about community organizing, performing evaluative research, grant writing, social movements, teaching at the college level, environmental stewardship, academic research, criminology and much, much more. Please look at the list of current Masters students, Graduate Alumni and Completed Graduate Projects to see what current and former students are, and have been, doing. Additionally, 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.: Graduates with an M.A. in Public Sociology from Cal Poly Humboldt have a 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 workforce: Graduates with an M.A. in Public Sociology from Cal Poly Humboldt 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/community presentations, and reading and writing at a high level. You will be well prepared to enter the non-profit, public or private workforce with the ability to think critically about social forces, and how to solve social problems through research and/or action.

Former Humboldt Public Sociology Graduates have gone on to work in the non-profit sector, to work for Humboldt, to further study at PhD programs, and much more!

Former Humboldt Public Sociology Students completing PROJECTS have:
Former Humboldt Public Sociology Students completing THESES have:

Completing Your MA

Cal Poly Humboldt - Office of Graduate Studies

Many of your questions about Humboldt policies can be answered by the Graduate Studies Handbook. You can also use the site to access forms you will need throughout your graduate career. 

Plan Your Coursework

Picking Courses: When you enter the program you will be advised by the Graduate Coordinator who will help you develop a plan of the courses you will take during your time in the program. We provide close assistance to our students so that students can move through the program as efficiently and successfully as possible. During your first year your Thesis/Project committee will be formed and you will begin to work closely with them, as well as the Graduate Coordinator, to help you develop your focus and begin to plan your internship or thesis. The Coursework 2 year plan gives you an opportunity to see what you might expect from a course (though courses do, of course, change and vary by instructor). The Humboldt Class Schedule is published during the tenth week of the semester and shows which, and at what time, courses are offered the following term.

Advance to Candidacy and Graduation

At the end of your first year, or in the beginning of the semester before you plan to graduate, you will need to submit an Application for Advancement to Candidacy and Graduation to Academic Programs, Siemens Hall 217. You will also pay the graduation fee. Once the application is received, you will receive a Degree Check to determine if you will meet all of the requirements on time. This form, which the Graduate Coordinator will help you fill out, will serve as your application for advancement, and for graduation

Professional Development

Whether you plan to go to a Ph.D. program, or to a career, there is much you can do during your time in Humboldt Sociology to plan for your future. You can join professional associations, and attend conferences and/or make a poster or paper presentation at one. You can also start working with the Career Center early in your time at Humboldt to make sure you can hit the ground running after graduation.