Sociology Guide to Graduate School – Academic or Professional

Interested in Graduate School?

There are many things to think about – this guide will help you with some of that.  Sociology advising recommends that you talk with us, your TA’s and Professors, and make use of the on campus resources that can help you decide on programs and when to apply.


Some things to think about:

You can divide graduate school as a whole into two camps – academic and professional.  They are similar in that they are both comprised of advanced course work beyond your undergraduate education that give you additional skills and knowledge.  However the similarities end there.

Academic graduate school programs are the ones you are probably most familiar with already – that is what your TA’s are doing and that’s what your professors did (e.g. Ph.D in Sociology).  Many of our graduate students will say that the main difference from undergrad, along with the increased reading and writing load, is that you need to go beyond just showing you understand other people’s ideas and create your own via research and working closely with your faculty advisers.

Professional programs are ones that you are probably not as familiar with but comprise the majority of graduate programs in existence.  These would be programs that prepare you for employment in a specific sector (e.g. a Masters in Social Work or a Masters in Business Administration).  People typically enter a professional graduate program with a purposeful career direction in mind.


Next Steps:

Come talk to us!  Drop-in hours or make an appointment and we can help you explore this much more in depth.

Go talk to your TA’s!  Ask them why they decided to go to graduate school and what helped them make decisions about where to apply to and where to go.

Come to UMSA events!  We put on Graduate School events every year!

Go talk to your Professors!  You’ll need their letters of recommendation and this is a great conversation starter.

The College of Education and Human Development has assembled a really good graduate school starter site – you’ll want to explore this site first.  http://academics.cehd.umn.edu/graduate/

Online Resources:

Graduate Programs here at the U of M Twin Cities:
http://www.catalogs.umn.edu/grad/index.html
Be sure to look at the Minnesota Advantage Program (MAP)
http://www.law.umn.edu/prospective/map.html

Testing help (GRE, LSAT, MCAT, etc):

http://www.clacareer.umn.edu/gradschool/links.html

Other Thoughts:

Your Sociology major equips you with the quantitative and qualitative analytical skills that virtually all graduate programs are looking for.  We have alumni with MBA’s and we have alumni with PhD’s in Sociology.  You are by no means limited to only doing a graduate program in the Social Sciences (that said, if you wanted to do a graduate program in Analytical Chemistry you should probably consider adding a Chem major).

Graduate programs will look for program fit – so be sure to have a well crafted personal statement and be familiar with the program you’re applying to.  For example, many Sociology graduate programs will focus on L.C.D., but if you are not interested in the L.C.D. side of Sociology then you would presumably not apply to that program.  You will want to view perspective graduate school programs directly, so make use of their websites.

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