Life After Graduation
Many students who study sociology and/or anthropology decide to pursue a graduate degree in one of these fields. A graduate degree can take several shapes:
Ph.D., Doctorate of Philosophy in either Sociology or Anthropology:
This degree affords you the opportunity to teach in a college or university setting as a full faculty member with tenure track potential. With a doctorate, you would also be able to work in an applied field using your research and analytical expertise.
M.S., Masters of Science in Sociology:
This degree enables you to teach in a community college setting while also providing necessary research and analytic training to pursue careers in applied settings, such as research and technology positions, government policy centers and evaluation research centers.
M.A., Masters of Arts in Sociology:
This degree is a more applied degree, and is not offered through all graduate programs. Typically a two-year program, this degree enables you to work in an applied field with a higher level of qualification for the job than some other candidates.
If graduate school is an option you are considering, you must plan ahead. Start planning for the graduate school application process no later than the end of your junior year. Here’s a checklist of things to keep in mind when considering graduate school:
- Decide on a graduate program that is consistent with your career goals. Consult with faculty members to discuss your career options and what is required to be successful in your endeavors.
- Prepare for and take the standardized tests (GRE) that your graduate programs of choice require. All graduate programs require that you take the GRE. Some require that you take the special section of the GRE for sociology, but others do not. Familiarize yourself with the requirements for the graduate programs you are interested in, and then sign up for the appropriate tests. The Career Services Center has GRE booklets and registration materials and information. They also offer practice tests for the GRE.
- Once you decide on the type of graduate degree you want to pursue, it is critical that you prioritize your values regarding the selection of the graduate school that you wish to attend. Decide what is important to you. Is choosing the university that has one of the best and most competitive programs in the nation most important to you? Is it more important that you find a university that can offer you the best financial aid package (i.e., assistantships, fellowships, grants, scholarships, etc.)? Or maybe the geographical location of the graduate school is the most important qualifier?
- Based on your priority of values, identify an initial list of prospective graduate schools (approximately 10) that offer your graduate program of interest.
- Contact each of these prospective graduate schools and request catalogs, applications, financial aid information and other literature that is relevant to your choice of graduate program.
- Review this literature and begin weeding out some schools that do not appeal to you.
- Generate a final list of universities to which you want to apply (approximately 4 – 8).
- Plan visits to as many of the schools on your final list as possible and meet with faculty and current students in the program. You should also ask Elon faculty if they are attending any professional meetings during your junior and senior years that welcome undergraduate participation. This is another good way of meeting people from graduate programs and showing them that you are eager to be involved in the professional business of being a sociologist or anthropologist.
- When asking Elon faculty for letters of recommendation, be sure to spend time talking with them about your career goals and the specifics of the graduate program(s) to which they will be sending letters. Be prepared to discuss your GPA and GRE scores. The faculty members are there to help you, but that doesn’t mean that they can get you into graduate school if you don’t have the qualifications to be accepted (i.e., a GPA of 3.0 or better). Be prepared to discuss both your strengths and weaknesses with them so that they can be of the most assistance to you.
- Complete all necessary steps in filling out each application, and submit them on time.
For more information about graduate school, please visit http://www.ncsociology.org/.