Sociology departments have not always been good at promoting their field as a tenable option for an undergraduate major. However, with a focus on the scientific and critical analysis of the structure of society and its institutions, it is a field with a wide scope of applicability. Those graduating with an undergraduate degree in sociology are pursuing careers in fields as diverse as the social services, counseling, administration, management, and marketing. While pursuing very different vocational paths, what sociology undergraduates have in common is very high rates of reported job satisfaction. Moreover, those aspiring to research careers in the social sciences will find an undergraduate sociology degree a valuable foundation for further graduate work in sociology and related disciplines. If affordability is one of your primary concerns in choosing a degree program then an online degree, and these programs in particular, are going to be compelling options.
St. Leo University
Location: St. Leo, FL
Though it has the highest out-of-pocket tuition expenses on this list, St. Leo’s online is still very affordable and excels at connecting its students with financial assistance in the form of grants and loans. Throughout its 125 year history St. Leo’s has stayed true to its identity as a Catholic and liberal arts college. This is reflected in its sociology curriculum, which builds from a foundational core of sociological theory, data analysis, and quantitative methodologies while also requiring supplemental coursework in topics as diverse as art, history, religion, and philosophy. This liberal arts approach encourages the ability to think broadly and creatively rather than being confined within a narrow specialization. Its Catholic identity is reflected in courses focused on analyzing social trends in religion, applying ethical concepts in sociological research, and advocating for greater social justice. St. Leo’s has been accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Location: San Diego, CA
Ashford University is a WASC accredited online only university based in San Diego, California. Putting a high premium on accessibility and convenience, Ashford utilizes the Quality Matters course review process and has had more courses certified by Quality Matters than any other university in the country. This ensures that Ashford’s online courses are designed according to recognized best practices and with a positive student experience as their highest aim. For students interested in government and public policy, Ashford’s online BA in sociology offers a specialization in Political Science and Government. This specialization uses the concepts and analytical tools of sociology to explore the inner workings of local, state, and federal government. Online students hoping to connect and network with other sociology majors will enjoy Ashford’s online sociology club.
University of Nebraska, Omaha
Location: Omaha, NE
University of Nebraska at Omaha’s online degrees are unique in the extent of their integration with the UNO campus. Both on campus and online students draw from the same culturally diverse and expert faculty. Another sign of this integration is that an undergraduate degree from UNO is always the same, regardless of whether it was attained online or on-campus. A benefit of obtaining an online degree in sociology from a leading research university like UNO is that its excellent library services and academic advisors will be unmatched by what might be offered at online-only or smaller liberal arts colleges. UNO’s sociology department offers further specializations in medical sociology, sociology of families, sociology of the body, and sociology of sexualities. UNO is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
New England College
Location: Henniker, NH
Tucked amid the mountains of rural New Hampshire, New England College has been providing a liberal arts education to students since 1946. However, if snowy winters and small town life are not for you, the college now offers degrees completely online that are accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. NEC has partnered with University Alliance, which works with colleges such as Villanova and Notre Dame, to provide students with a high quality online experience. The online degree replicates the small and intimate nature of the NEC campus with small class sizes and multiple ways to interact with instructors and other students. Another attraction NEC online is that they offer seven week courses seven times throughout the year. This, in addition to their four credit offerings, gives NEC online students the ability to finish their sociology degree at a faster pace than they could with other online programs.
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Like UNO mentioned earlier, the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, carries with it the benefits of a large state university system with a focus on research, so online students have access to research tools unavailable to students at smaller colleges. Also like UNO, the faculty for online education is identical to the on-campus faculty, though UWM also makes a point to provide their instructors with additional curriculum and teaching training so that they can best adapt their course material to an online teaching format. Moreover, educators at UWM have developed their own online instructional approach called U-Pace, which allows students to work at their own pace within the confines of a semester system while identifying when students are struggling and providing critical interventions during times of trouble. Research has shown that U-Pace produces better learning outcomes, particularly for disadvantaged students. Finally, UWM boasts an excellent sociology faculty that has contributed to research in areas such as globalization, urban sociology, gender, aging, inequality, and criminology. UWM is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Southern New Hampshire University
Location: Hooksett, NH
Southern New Hampshire University has, over the past decade, quickly become the largest provider of online degrees in New England, winning it recognition from publications like Fast Company. Unlike other schools who are quickly expanding into the realm of online education, SNHU is a not-for-profit enterprise with a strong emphasis on delivering high quality education rather than simply maximizing profits. One thing that makes their BA in sociology unique is its incorporation of required field experience, ensuring that students will learn to apply what they have learned online in a real-world environment. Their degree program, accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, also focuses on the analysis of social inequality and requires a capstone project that asks students to use their knowledge to address issues of social injustice. Their degree also offers a specialization in community health, a valuable asset in a health care marketplace that is transitioning quickly from a focus on acute care to one of community health.
Oregon State University
Location: Corvallis, OR
Because of high scores in student satisfaction, instructor responsiveness, and faculty qualifications, US News and World Report has named Oregon State University as one of the top 10 providers of online bachelor’s degrees in the country. Like UWM and UNO, mentioned earlier in this list, an online student at OSU has access to the top notch academic resources associated with a state funded research university. Online sociology students at Oregon State have the added benefit of supplementing and specializing their sociology degree with the addition of twenty three different undergraduate minors, allowing them to adapt their degree to meet their educational and vocational needs. OSU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
CUNY School of Professional Studies
Location: New York, NY
City University of New York is New York City’s own public university system, distinct from the state university system. Its member schools are accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Since its founding in 1847 it has hosted a large number of notable academics, including such leaders in their fields as philosopher Saul Kripke and the Nobel awarding winning economist Paul Krugman. In 2006, CUNY added the School of Professional Studies to its list of member schools with the intention of having CUNY SPS meet the unique education needs of working professionals. One way it addresses these needs is through its online BA in sociology, which in addition to educating students in the methods and concepts of sociology, applies those methods especially to the study of our rapidly changing labor market and the world of professional work. CUNY SPS shares with OSU the distinction of being named one of the top online bachelor degree providers for 2016 by US News and World Report. It earned this distinction especially on account of the exceptional financial and vocational support it offers to its online students.
American Public University
Location: Charles Town, WV
The American Public University is a for profit, online-only university system that was founded in 1991 with the express purpose of meeting the educational needs of military personnel. While they have retained their focus on catering to the needs of service members, they also appeal to students hoping to enter other forms of public service, such as work within the different branches of US government. In addition to its low tuition costs, APU offers other financial incentives such as grants covering the costs of reading materials, which can save thousands of dollars in expenses in the course of completing an undergraduate degree. APU’s sociology curriculum is periodically reviewed by experts in various industries to ensure that the teaching remains maximally relevant to the needs of the marketplace- with special attention to fields such as politics, civil service, healthcare, family support services, and law. APU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Fort Hays State University
Location: Hays, KS
Coming in as the most affordable option on the list, Fort Hays State also boasts an online sociology faculty with an impressive amount of training and credentials. Fort Hays’ online program assigns each student an academic advisor who will assist them in building a study program tailored to their interests and career aspirations. Aiding in their ability to craft programs to meet each individual’s unique educational needs, Fort Hays offers seven certificate programs, including specializations in non-profit work, grant writing, globalization, medicine, and more. In addition to these certificate programs, Fort Hays’ program will appeal to students with an interest in helping people struggling with addiction through their addiction counseling track option. Fort Hays is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.