MA in Sociology

Employers need doers—graduates who can apply their learning as they connect theory and practice with a sense of purpose and place. 

The Department of Sociology will customize your education with high-impact experiential learning and extracurricular activities to develop the skills that employers demand. We will introduce you to new professional networks in the industries and organizations that interest you the most.

Infographic that says 10 Skills Employers Want: 1. Teamwork 2. Data Collection and Analysis 3. Diversity Appreciation 4. Leadership 5. Research 6. Professional Conduct 7. Oral Communication 8. Written Communication 9. Global Perspective 10. Critical Thinking .

Be Career Ready

Employers often cite the skills profile of applicants as the most important factor in their recruitment and job offer decisions. 

Here is how we help develop 10 critical skills:

1. Teamwork

Collaborate with classmates on applied group projects, research papers, academic competitions, in student organizations and volunteer opportunities in the community. Examples include:

2. Data Collection and Analytics

Apply concepts to complex real-world problems and projects in courses such as:

  • Quantitative Research Design 
  • Multiple Linear Regression 
  • Qualitative Research Methods 
  • Advanced Statistical Techniques 

Design and conduct original research and present at regional and national conferences, such as this recent presentation:

  • Matthew McLeskey presented “Law and Social Change: A Case Study of Lead Poisoning Policy Reform” at the annual meeting of the Society for Study of Social Problems"

3. Diversity Appreciation

Gain an in-depth understanding of the issues surrounding diversity, a hallmark of the UB Sociology program. Apply that knowledge to original research projects leading to presentations and publication, and to volunteer and internship opportunities throughout the local community.

Recent student examples include:

  • Aysegul Balta Ozgen and Watoii Rabii presented “Immigration, Race, and Neighborhood Change on Buffalo’s West Side” with Robert Adelman at the 2017 annual meeting of the American Sociological Association.
  • Paul Durlak published “Disability at Work: Understanding the Impact of the ADA on the Workplace” in Sociology Compass. He also published a teaching and learning guide to accompany the article.

4. Leadership

Rise to the challenge by gaining experience and leadership skills in some of the hundreds of University at Buffalo extracurricular and governance organizations, civic groups and volunteer activities.

Prove your abilities and make powerful industry connections through leadership positions in regional and national professional organizations. For example:

  • Kiera Dickworth served as elected graduate student representative for the American Sociological Association's Sex and Gender Section Council

UB Sociology graduate students are active in the following professional organizations:

Participate in UB's REALM Program (Real Experience and Leadership Mentoring), a full-day career shadowing experience for students who are interested in learning about leadership in the context of a professional setting. Students shadow a professional in their chosen field for a day and learn what skills have made them successful, followed by a networking reception.

5. Research

Work independently or with faculty members on major research projects, helping them identify issues and produce groundbreaking and publication worthy scholarly and applied research. A recent example:

  • Joanne Tompkins’ chapter coauthored with Debi Street, “Is 70 the New 60? Extending American Women’s and Men’s Working Lives,” was published in the book, Gender and Extended Working Lives: Cross National Perspectives

6. Professional Conduct

Gain insight into the demands and expectations of employers including the ability to be dependable, punctual, dressing properly, being polite and displaying self confidence. Improve your skills through Master's projects and volunteer opportunities that involve working with professionals from community organizations and industry. 

Interact with peers, researchers and industry experts at a myriad of professional and social events designed to strengthen your communication skills and expand your network. For example, recent speakers at the Department of Sociology's Colloquium Series include:

  • Dr. Steve Boutcher, Law & Society Association, “Financing Legal Education through Student Loans: Results from a Quasi-Experiment in Tuition Reduction" 
  • Marcia Carlson, University of Wisconsin
  • Sarah Hayford, The Ohio State University
  • Yu Xie, Princton University
  • Jennifer Montez, Syracuse University
  • Kait Boyle, Virginia Tech University
  • Alford A. Young, Jr., University of Michigan
  • Tey Meadow, Harvard University
  • Lynette Chua, National University of Singapore
  • Mariana Craciun, Northwestern University

7. Oral Communication

Practice professional presentation skills in seminar classes before you take the stage at regional and national conferences. Recent examples of UB students' presentations:

American Sociological Association

  • Greg Hall and Rob Kappel presented “Gender, Alcohol, and the Media: The Portrayal of Ideal Men and Women in Alcohol Commercials”
  • Sarah Glann presented “Teaching Environmental Literacy in the Digital Age” 
  • Vinay Kumar also presented “The Role of Morality in Contemporary Urban Development” with Chris Mele
  • Aysegul Balta Ozgen presented “Impact of Immigration Policies on Syrian Refugees’ Integration in Canada, Germany, Turkey, and the United States”

Eastern Sociological Society

  • Jessica Coley presented “When the Neighbors Change: The Emergence of Gentrification in the City of Good Neighbors”
  • Vinay Kumar presented “The Concept of Play in Pragmatism”
  • Seon Yup Lee presented “Conscription and Militarized Masculinity in South Korea”
  • Laura Obernesser presented “The Caring Mother: Parenting Identity Talk among the Rural Poor of Central New York”

Society for Study of Social Problems

  • Kiera Duckworth presented “Gender Goals and Failures: Masculine Identities and Narratives in the Transition to Adulthood”
  • Matthew McLeskey presented “Law and Social Change: A Case Study of Lead Poisoning Policy Reform” 

8. Written Communication

Enhance your ability to author effective critical communication pieces through required class projects, research papers, poster presentations and articles submitted for review and publication by professional organizations.

Sociology graduate students are invited to submit manuscripts for the annual Nathalie Devine Howe Award which includes a monetary grant toward travel expenses to attend a professional meeting. Recent award recipients include:

  • 2018: Paul Durlak, “Constructing Fairness and the Meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act”
  • 2017: Jessica Hoffman, “‘Everybody Feels the Need to Offer You Advice When You’re Pregnant’: Evaluating the Character and Extent of Trust in Pregnancy Advice Among First-Time Moms”
  • 2016: Aysegul Balta Ozgen, “Organizational Mediation of Immigrant Integration:  Transnational Entrepreneurship and Integration with Difference”
  • 2015: Ashley Kranjac, “The Moderating Effect of Self-Efficacy on Normal-Weight, Overweight, and Obese Children’s Math Achievement: A Longitudinal Analysis”

9. Global Perspective

Expand your world view by taking advantage of our annual study abroad program in London, England during Winter recess. Gain an understanding of how societies and culture shape our approach to issues.

Conduct original research with global implications. Examples include:

  • Aysegul Balta Ozgen was awarded a $2,500 grant from the Mark Diamond Research Fund for her dissertation titled “Impact of Immigration Policies on Syrian Refugees’ Integration in Canada, Germany, Turkey, and the U.S.”
  • Yulin Yang presented “Changing Perceptions of Intergenerational Responsibility for Later Life Support in Singapore” with Debi Street at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association

10. Critical Thinking

Address a problem, policy issue or an organizational process incorporating sociological theory, methods and coursework for your Master’s Portfolio.

Showcase your ability to design, manage, operate and report on topics typically required for professional employment, highlighting your competence across several areas within Sociology. The original materials in the portfolio are created, assembled and presented in a professional manner. The Master’s Portfolio includes:

  • A 2-page statement of academic experiences and professional goals;
  • A résumé that clearly highlights the skills and strengths the student has gained through the MA program;
  • At least two course papers, one of which executes or proposes an original research project;
  • A 10-12 page research paper or proposal based on informational interviews with 2-3 people working in an industry or field of interest to the student. The paper or proposal should address a problem, policy issue, or an organizational process that incorporates sociological theory, methods, and substantive coursework.

With quantitative and qualitative data analysis and data visualization skills, I’m able to construct narratives for pragmatic decisions that drive favorable business outcomes.

Aaron Elliott, MA ’16
Insights and Segmentation Manager, Elsevier

How much can you earn?

Bar graph with three vertical bars: $42k, $80k, $147k.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for sociologists was $79,750 in May 2016. The highest 10% earned more than $146,860.

What career is in your future?


* Data Analyst
* Demographer
* Survey Researcher
* Statistician
* Policy Analyst
* Criminologist
* Research Analyst
* Counselor
* Marketing Manager
* Project Manager
* Diversity Officer
* Educator

Infographic that says 70 people committed to your success; 17 Faculty members, 50 Peer graduate learners; 3 Professional staff .