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  • Sociology
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    Battelle Tompkins, Room T-21

    Linden, Sandra L
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Graduate Certificate in Public Sociology

The graduate certificate program in public sociology trains students to use theories and methods of sociology in a wide range of work settings, including policy and social activism and advocacy. The public sociology graduate certificate is ideal for students who want to enhance their marketable skills and pursue a social justice agenda while learning from sociologists who work in government, community-based non-profits, research, or commercial/consulting organizations.

Studying public sociology leads to career paths ranging from grassroots organizing and work in community-based non-profit agencies and non-governmental organizations to employment in government agencies, legislative offices, "think tanks," advocacy organizations, or private consulting.

The Department of Sociology seeks to support internships or practicums that involve teamwork, engage decision-makers and community groups, and develop a range of capabilities that can include: needs assessment and strategic planning, managing data collection using a range of methods of observation, interpretation of findings informed by social theory, evaluation of social programs and policies, and grant writing.

The 12 credit-hours of required coursework includes:

  • SOCY 684 - Seminar in Public Sociology
  • SOCY 525 - Social Advocacy and Social Change or SOCY 580 - Social Policy Analysis
  • 6 credit hours of graduate-level coursework relevant to public sociology selected in consultation with the graduate advisor. Courses outside the Sociology Department may be submitted with approval of the graduate director.

Any student with a bachelor's degree can apply for and enroll in this certificate; current MA students are eligible to enroll as well. The Graduate Certificate in Public Sociology will appear on a student's transcript, along with any terminal degree.


Admission to the Program 

Open to students with a bachelor’s degree or equivalent from an accredited institution. The College of Arts and Sciences uses a rolling admission process and applications are accepted at all times for the certificate. Apply online or visit the Graduate Admissions website for additional information.


Certificate Requirements 

  • 12 credit hours of approved coursework with at least 6 credit hours at the 600-level or above, with grades of C or better Grades of C- or D in certificate program courses are not accepted toward the fulfillment of certificate requirements, although these grades will be included in the calculation of the GPA. Students must have at least a 3.0 GPA in certificate courses in order to be awarded a certificate.
  • Students in certificate programs must take a minimum of 6 credit hours during each 12-month period and complete the certificate in four years.
  • International students must enroll in 9 credit hours each semester (except for summer).
  • A maximum of 3 credit hours earned at an accredited college or university may be applied toward the certificate as transfer credit.


For questions about the certificate, contact Salvador Vidal-Ortiz at vidalort@american.edu or 202-885-2443.