Applied Sociology, Master of Arts

Department of Sociology

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Our program prepares you for professional practice in human service agencies and applied research settings as well as for further academic study in sociology and related fields. Engaged faculty work with graduate students in a highly collaborative academic atmosphere. Funding opportunities include graduate assistantships, competitive stipends, and tuition waivers.

  • To receive a master’s degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses from one or more subject areas, consisting of at least 30 units of graduate-level courses. (Many master’s degree programs require more than 30 units.)

    You must additionally complete:

    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s). This may include a thesis.
    • All graduate work with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0.
    • All work toward the master’s degree must be completed within six consecutive years. The six years begins with the semester and year of admission to the program.

    Read the full policy here.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

Minimum Units for Completion 35
Fieldwork Experience/Internship Optional
Thesis Thesis may be required by chosen emphasis or offered as an option.
Oral Defense Oral Defense may be required by chosen emphasis or offered as an option.
Research Individualized research may be required by chosen emphasis or offered as an option.
Progression Plan Link View Program of Study

Purpose Statement

The Master of Arts in Applied Sociology prepares students for applying sociological theories, methods and skills in researching and analyzing social lives, behaviors and aggregations, for instance, groups, societies, organizations and institutions, for the purpose of understanding social structures, power, and transformations, and building strategies to solve social problems. The Program expands its scope to both the national and global levels, and puts emphasis on NAU three themes of global learning: diversity, environmental sustainability, and global engagement.

The Program includes two optional concentration areas. The Culture, Community, & Health Concentration trains students to understand how norms, practices, and values shape larger social forces and play key roles in community wellness. The Environment, Sustainability and Globalization concentration area keeps pace with the shifting boundaries of sociology to study the interdependencies of the social, economic and ecological dimensions of life, the emergence, structures and dynamics of the global society, and the massive social consequences that result from environmental changes.

Through these concentration areas, students study a variety of social issues, such as, health inequality, sexuality, racial and ethnic conflicts, environmental justice, global social movements, sustainable communities, etc.

In addition to these two concentration areas, the Department will work with individual students to identify and develop their own concentration area. 

The Program will enable students, not only to recall and comprehend a number of theories and methods, but also to select among a variety of classic and contemporary social theories, and a variety of qualitative or quantitative methods the ones that properly fit a certain social phenomenon or problem, be it local or global. Students will be able to apply these theories and methods to analyze, interpret or evaluate specific local or global social phenomena or structures, and sociologically describe them, design sociological solutions to their identified and analyzed problems, and clearly present their findings to either an academic community or the public in general.

Aware of a number of local and global social issues and problems, and armed with the knowledge of sociological theories and methods, and the skills of analyzing data, evaluating programs and designing social policies and solutions, the graduates of this Program can join doctorate programs in sociology or related fields, teach sociology, or work in local or global, research centers, governmental or non governmental organizations, industry, business, marketing departments, etc.

The Master of Arts in Sociology is designed for students, who are interested in building a career in social research, working in human services agencies, teaching sociology in community colleges, engaging in grassroots activism and social change, or pursuing a doctorate degree in sociology.

 Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this program, graduates will be able to:

  • Explain key social concepts relating to the groups, cultures, organizations, social institutions, and processes that societies develop.
  • Design research projects that test theories about social issues.
  • Collect data through surveys, observations, interviews, and other sources.
  • Locate published research and data on various social topics such as social inequality, education, population demographics and crime.
  • Perform and interpret complex quantitative and qualitative analysis that uses social data.
  • Prepare reports, articles, or presentations detailing their research findings in clear and articulate ways.
  • Consult with and advise clients, policymakers, or other groups on research findings and sociological issues.

Additional Admission Requirements
  • Admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.
    • NAU graduate online application is required for all programs. Details on admission requirements are included in the online application.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution.
    • Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A"), or the equivalent.
    • Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.
    • Transcripts.
    • For details on graduate admission policies, please visit the Graduate Admissions Policy.
    • International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy.

    Individual program admission requirements include:

    • 3 letters of recommendation
    • Personal statement or essay
Master's Requirements
  • Take the following 35 units:

    This Master’s degree requires 35 units distributed as follows:

    • Common Course Requirements: 11 units
    • Electives: 18 units
    • Internship or Thesis: 6 units

    Applied Sociology Courses (11 units)

  • Electives (18 units):
    Select in consultation with your committee.

    Select an Internship or Thesis in consultation with your committee(6 units):

    • Internship: SOC 696. Complete an internship, which requires your committee's approval, provides you with hands-on experience to help bridge the gap between theory and practice. See the internship coordinator for information about our network of field-placement opportunities with agencies, organizations, and companies throughout Arizona. An internship manuscript is required. Contact the department for further information.
    • Thesis: SOC 699. Prepare a thesis, which involves an independent research project in either applied or basic sociological inquiry, followed by the writing and oral defense of an approved thesis. (Please note that you may end up taking more than the 6 units you can count toward your degree because you must register for it each semester while you are working on your thesis.)

    Additional requirements:
    • Select your committee by the time you've completed 18 units of coursework
    • Prepare a formal manuscript for your internship or thesis, which your committee must approve
    • Make an oral presentation to your committee, which they must approve
Additional Information
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.