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Online Bachelor's in Sociology Degree Programs (Sociology Major)

Sociology is one of the core social sciences. It involves the scientific study of human groups, social constructs, and societal forces to better understand human behavior, and the examination of the factors that inform social identity, including religion and spirituality, work and economics, family life and recreation, and politics and criminal justice. Students who major in sociology learn to use statistical analysis and qualitative research methods to identify social patterns and explore the effects of social problems, such as poverty, substance abuse, and in-group favoritism and out-group discrimination. Scholarship in the field of sociology is foundational to the professional of social work, and it serves to deepen and expand our understanding of human psychology, human political and economic behavior, and human development over the lifespan.

What Is a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology?

A bachelor’s degree in sociology is a degree conferred by an undergraduate program that offers a designated major in sociology in addition to a broader general education curriculum. Typically, students spend four years or eight traditional semesters earning a bachelor’s degree in sociology, which includes completing introductory, intermediate, and advanced coursework in sociology as well as non-major courses in areas like writing, mathematics, physical science, and the humanities (these courses are commonly referred to as general education requirements). In order to earn a bachelor’s degree in social work, students must meet institutional academic requirements and complete required and elective courses within a school’s sociology major.

Online Bachelor’s in Sociology Programs

Online bachelor’s in sociology programs represent a more convenient and flexible alternative to traditional, campus-based bachelor’s in sociology degree programs. Students in an online program take all or most of their courses online. Lectures and other course materials in these programs are streamed via digital online instructional platforms, or learning management systems (LMSs). Through an LMS, students are able to view pre-recorded lectures and/or participate in real-time virtual class sessions. Students in an online program may interact with other students via online message boards and typically contact instructors, submit assignments, and receive feedback through the program’s LMS.

Some online bachelor’s in sociology programs require students to attend a limited number of campus visits as part of their instructional curriculum, but many are offered 100% online. In addition, some online bachelor’s in sociology programs are bachelor’s completion programs that require students to have earned a certain number of college credits prior to enrolling in the program. Students in an online bachelor’s completion program transfer into the program with those prior credits and are thus able to earn their bachelor’s degree without having to repeat courses they have already taken.

How Identifies and Classifies Online Bachelor’s in Sociology Programs researches bachelor’s in sociology programs and identifies programs that offer all or most of their courses online. Programs that require students to attend more than two campus visits per year are thus not classified as online bachelor’s in sociology programs. In addition, programs must offer a designated major in sociology that includes coursework in introductory sociology, theories of social and group interaction, and sociological research methods, as well as specialized courses in various areas of sociology and social science scholarship. Finally, in order for a program to be listed on the site, it must be offered by an accredited, non-profit college or university, and it must confer a bachelor’s degree, usually a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS), in Sociology.

What Students Learn in Online Bachelor’s in Sociology Programs

In addition to general education requirements, an undergraduate curriculum in sociology provides students with a solid grounding in the theories and methods of the discipline, typically through one or more introductory courses in the history of sociology, social science research methods, and sociological theory. Most online bachelor’s in sociology programs also require students to successfully complete a statistics or statistical analysis course as a prerequisite for intermediate and advanced sociology scholarship. A sociology major may also require students to take an introduction to psychology course and other behavioral science courses as a foundation for further studies in sociology.

Among the other types of courses that commonly comprise a bachelor’s-level sociology degree are courses that explore various facets of social and behavioral science research, such as: the socioeconomics of class, race, ethnicity and gender; criminology and the justice system; human sexuality; the family; mental illness; and health, illness, and aging. Finally, online bachelor’s in sociology programs may require students to apply what they have learned by engaging in the design and analysis of sociology research studies, and some programs give students the option of completing a self-directed sociology research project.

Online Bachelor’s in Sociology Program Courses

The table below draws on actual online bachelor’s in sociology programs in order to provide a representative overview of the types of courses that are typically part of an online program’s curriculum. It is important to note that course names, course descriptions, and specific requirements vary by program.

Course TitleCourse Description
Principles of SociologyAn introduction to sociological theories, methods of sociological research, and principles of sociological thought, with a focus on social institutions, social classes, social stratification, the impacts of urbanization, and the identification and remediation of social problems.
Development of Sociological ThoughtA comparative study of principal contributors to the field of sociology, including Émile Durkheim, Max Weber, and Karl Marx, with a critical analysis of their ideas and the relevance of those ideas to contemporary social thought.
Statistics for the Social SciencesTechniques for the statistical analysis of social data, including the use of descriptive and inferential statistical analysis, experimental design, and the application of statistical methods to the study of social issues.
Theories of Social BehaviorA survey of major sociological theories, the methodology behind those theories, and the application of those theories to analyzing social constructs and social problems.
Modern Social ProblemsAn examination of contemporary issues in sociology, such as gender, race and ethnicity, poverty, and unemployment.
Gender and SocietyAn analysis of social constructs surrounding gender and the development, nature, and consequences of sex, sexual orientation, and gender in contemporary society.
Race and EthnicityAn examination of the social problems faced by minorities in heterogeneous societies, theories of prejudice, and sociological research dealing with discrimination, desegregation, and assimilation.
Sociology of the FamilyViewing the family as a social institution through an historical and a comparative, cross-cultural lens, with a focus on the psychodynamics of marriage and family life.
Sociology of AgingExamining the social constructs surrounding aging, sociological theories of aging, and how social institutions and social policies function to support members of a society as they age.

Admissions to Online Bachelor’s in Sociology Programs

The main eligibility requirement for online bachelor’s in sociology programs is a high school diploma. In addition to high school transcripts, some programs may require applicants to submit one or more of the following: standardized college entrance exam scores (e.g., SAT results); two or three letters of recommendation; and a personal essay and/or answers to one or more essay questions. As noted earlier, there are online bachelor’s in sociology completion programs that are designed for students who have already taken college-level courses. These programs may have additional admissions requirements, such as a full year or two of college coursework, an associate degree, or prior coursework in specific areas, such as English composition, mathematics, and foreign language. Potential applicants to online bachelor’s in sociology programs should review a program’s admissions requirements carefully to ensure that they are eligible for a program prior to submitting an application.

Online Bachelor’s in Sociology Program Formats

While all online programs offer students the convenience and flexibility of taking classes online, not all programs are the same. For example, there are two modes of online course delivery: synchronous instruction, which takes place in real time; and asynchronous instruction, which does incorporate scheduled class meeting times. In addition, online programs may offer a range of enrollment options in order to accommodate full-time and/or part-time students. Finally, some online bachelor’s in sociology programs require students to attend a limited number of campus visits, which can be a valuable addition to an online program, although campus visits may represent an inconvenience for some students. Each of these factors is covered in greater depth below.

Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Instruction: Synchronous instruction provides a learning experience that is similar to attending a campus-based course. Lectures and other types of class meetings take place in real-time at regularly scheduled intervals and students are expected to be logged on to a program’s LMS in order to attend these virtual classroom sessions. In contrast, asynchronous instruction does not have scheduled class meeting times. Instead, students have the freedom to view pre-recorded lectures and complete class modules at their convenience, 24-7. For students who want a more structured learning experience, a program that utilizes synchronous instruction may be preferable. Self-motivated students who are comfortable with a less structured learning environment may prefer a program that utilizes asynchronous instruction.

Full-Time vs. Part-Time Enrollment: Traditional, campus-based bachelor’s degree programs are generally designed to be completed in four years (eight semesters) by students who are enrolled full-time, which means spending 40 or more hours per week on coursework when school is in session. Many online bachelor’s in sociology programs offer a similar enrollment option for full-time students, although some programs are specifically designed for students who are working while earning their degree and who would prefer to enroll on a part-time basis. There are also programs with flexible enrollment, which allows students to take a full-time or a part-time course load and to adjust the number of courses they take per semester as they progress through the program. The advantage of full-time enrollment is that it allows students to earn their degree in four years or less. Part-time enrollment helps to accommodate students who have significant commitments outside of school, but it can extend a student’s time to completion beyond four years.

Campus Visits: While most online bachelor’s in sociology programs are offered entirely online and do not require campus visits, some programs have a limited number of campus-based requirements. On campus sessions may be used to provide students with program orientations, seminars and workshops, labs and research opportunities, and other learning experiences. Students typically have opportunities to meet with classmates and instructors during these sessions as well, which may last for a couple of days or a week, depending on the purpose. Potential applicants to online programs should be aware that some programs require campus visits and review a program’s requirements carefully prior to submitting an application. does not list online bachelor’s in sociology programs that require more than two campus visits per year.