Master’s Program

Sociology Department Master’s Program in Applied Sociology

The Mission of the Applied Program in Sociology is to prepare graduates for leadership positions in a variety of public and private community organizations that require evidence-based decision-making and policy advocacy skills. Our program is based on the premise that research best serves the community when it is grounded in sociological insight, linked to community organizations, and guided by a commitment to social justice. A significant aspect of the Program is the emphasis on the application of theory and community-based research to the practice of building healthy communities. The problem-based and multidisciplinary approach recognizes the complexity of working in and with communities and organizations and prepares students for work in resources scarce settings often divided along racial, ethnic, class, gender, and ideological lines. Students will be trained for doctoral study or for professional careers as social justice policy advocates working with community organizations to improve the quality of life in their communities.


Application information will be restored once recruitment for future cohorts resume.

Program Description

The primary aim of the Applied Sociology MA program is to prepare graduates for positions in a variety of community organizations that require research-based decision-making. Our program will stress the development of social research skills, including quantitative and qualitative data gathering, analysis, and presentation. The applied research emphasis will be embedded within the program’s curriculum. For example, the core course on theory will explore the way key sociological theories can be applied to contemporary social problems. Elective courses and the required internship will build on this interplay between theory and applied research.

The M.A. will combine core courses in methods, theory, and sociological practice with training in two thematic concentrations:

(1) Sociology of Medicine and Health.

(2) Community Development and Social Change.

Prerequisites/Application Requirements

  • A Bachelor’s degree with a major in Sociology or a related subject, and a minimum GPA of 3.0.
  • Completion of a minimum of one statistics course (in any subject area), one upper division research methods course (equivalent to SOC 355) and one upper-division sociological theory course (equivalent to SOC 356 and/or SOC 357). Students whose undergraduate work is deficient in sociology will be required to complete appropriate prerequisite courses. Course deficiencies will be determined by the Department’s Graduate Committee after taking into account each student’s background and goals. Prerequisite courses will not count toward credit in the M.A.
  • Official scores from the Graduate Record Examination.
  • Official transcripts.
  • Three letters of recommendation, including at least two from individuals well acquainted with the applicant’s academic ability.
  • A 3-4 page (typed, double-spaced) personal statement describing the student’s qualifications and reasons for wanting to pursue an Applied Sociology M.A. at CSULB.
  • Writing Sample.
  • Experience in community organizations is helpful, but not required.

Program Requirements

Completion of the MA degree requires a minimum of 30 units of approved upper division and graduate courses. All students are required to take SOC 696: Research Methods, SOC 656: Sociological Theory, and SOC 670: Sociological Practice, and complete 9 units in one of the two concentrations: Sociology of Health and Medicine, or Community Development and Social Change. In addition, students must complete the 3 unit SOC 695 internship, 6 units in an applied skills cluster, and a 3 unit capstone course.

Advancement to Candidacy

In order to be eligible to complete the capstone requirement and advance to candidacy for the MA degree, students must

  1. Satisfy the general University requirements for Advancement to Candidacy;
  2. Obtain the written approval of their master’s course work by their committee chair and the graduate advisor;
  3. Receive a “B” or better in the three Core courses SOC 696, SOC 656, and SOC 670;
  4. Complete 24 units of course work, including a minimum of 21 units in sociology, and 18 units in 500 or 600-level courses;
  5. File a written statement, approved by the faculty adviser, indicating how the student plans to complete all remaining requirements for the degree. This statement will include the members of the thesis committee and the date for completing the thesis, or the date the student will take the comprehensive examination.

Capstone Experience

All graduate students must complete one of the following requirements:

  1. A comprehensive examination in the areas of theory, applied research methods, and substantive issues in their concentration;
  2. A thesis.

Students choosing the comprehensive examination option will enroll in SOC 697 and earn three units of credit, while those writing a thesis will be granted three units of credit for SOC 698.


A. First 12-15 units

Core Courses (9 units): Students will be expected to complete the three core classes by the end of their first year. Students will be required to complete SOC 696 and SOC 656 prior to taking courses in their concentration.

• Research Methods: Sociology 696 (fall)

• Sociological Theory: Sociology 656 (fall)

• Sociological Practice: Sociology 670 (spring)

Electives in Applied Skills Clusters (6 units): The Graduate Program Director will maintain a list of courses offered outside the department that meet the requirements of particular clusters. Students will be encouraged to take these courses before and during their field placements. The applied skills clusters include:

• Organizations and Management (including courses offered in Public Policy and Administration, Health Care Administration, and Human Resources and Management).

• Finance and Fundraising (including courses offered in Public Policy and Administration, and Health Care Administration).

• Research Methods and Data Analysis (including courses offered in Public Policy and

Administration, Health Sciences, Health Care Administration, Educational Psychology, and Anthropology).

• Media and Communications (including courses offered in Journalism and Communications Studies).

B. 16-30 Units

Courses in Concentration (9 units): Students can begin taking courses in their concentration (either Sociology of Health and Medicine, or Community Development and Social Change) during their second semester in the program.

• Upper-Division Undergraduate Courses in Sociology (0-6 units): These courses will be double-numbered to be accepted as graduate courses. Students taking these courses will complete extra work to receive graduate credit per established university guidelines.

• Graduate Courses in Other Departments (0-6 units): Courses must be approved by the Graduate Program Director and be directly relevant to the concentration.

• Department Graduate Seminars (0-9 units): These include Sociology of Race, Racism, and Racial Relations (Soc 536); Urban Sociology (Soc 540), Global Health (Soc 562). At least 6 units must be in the student’s area of concentration.

Internship: Sociology 695 (3 units): Field placements will normally begin the fall semester of the second year. During the semester before the internships students will work with the graduate internship coordinator, to arrange for an internship at one of the community-based organizations and agencies with which the Applied Sociology MA program has developed working relationships.

Capstone Experience: Sociology 697 or 698 (3 units): Students are expected to finish their thesis or take their comprehensive exam during the spring semester of their second year (typically after a minimum of 24 units).

Comprehensive Exam Option: Directed Research, Sociology 697, 3 units: Students choosing the comprehensive exam will be tested in three areas: theory, applied research methods, and substantive issues in their concentration.

Thesis Option: Project Seminar, Sociology 698: Students electing the thesis option will take this seminar in the semester they begin planning their thesis (typically the Fall semester of their second year). The thesis seminar will be open only to students who have completed a minimum of 12 units. Students are expected to take the course concurrently with their field placement.

The thesis will require students to demonstrate their ability to apply sociological skills and knowledge to the practical world. The type of theses will be worked out with the student’s thesis committee.

Examples may include:

  • an evaluation of a program within, or for, an agency.
  • a needs assessment for an agency.
  • a program development project.
  • a grant proposal.
  • a small scale research project on some topic relevant to an agency.