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Online Classes

Your Sociology Degree: 6 Options for Online Engagement

The South Dakota State University (SDSU) Department of Sociology and Rural Studies offers five pathways through which students can earn their first degree, specialize toward a specific career goal or enhance a current program with a minor or certificate.

Sociology programs offer flexible, affordable courses with intimate class sizes and high student satisfaction.

A.S. Sociology

This versatile associate’s degree provides a foundation of general education courses, along with sociology electives. Students develop an understanding of current social problems related to poverty, inequality, gender, diversity, race, culture, socialization and globalization, as well as demonstrate skills in communication, knowledge in evidence-based practice, research design and data collection.

This online program prepares graduates to work in entry-level positions in human services, human resources, office and management assistance, criminal justice or law enforcement. Students may also take the next step to a Bachelor’s degree in sociology to further expand their knowledge and opportunities. 

B.S. Sociology

In the Bachelor's of Sociology program, students choose courses that focus on data analytics, human and social services, marketing and sales, management or public-sector and nonprofit work. Students who minor in criminal justice are well prepared for careers in this field. Courses will equip you to collect and analyze data, adapt to changing situations and give presentations that non-sociologists can understand, leaving you well prepared to enter the workforce upon graduation. Career options include human services, criminal justice, human resources and many other service professions. 

Sociology Minors

Students whose career goals involve extensive contact with the public—including majors in business, communications, engineering, human development and family studies, nursing and psychology benefit from an undergraduate minor in sociology. It is a means toward greater understanding of the complex social and cultural world that shapes their future clients’ and customers’ life experiences, needs and concerns. 

The Department of Sociology and Rural Studies also instructs the criminal justice minor, designed for students seeking careers in probation, parole, court services, pre-law, private security or general law enforcement.

“The criminal justice minor is a good fit with a number of other majors, including fisheries and wildlife, biology, chemistry and nursing. This allows students to pursue their interest in the criminal justice realm as forensic scientists, laboratory analysts, forensic nurses, sexual assault nurse examiners and conservation officers.”

- J. Yingling, Ph.D., Dept. of Sociology and Rural Studies

This dynamic minor is available to students majoring in any field at SDSU and includes forward-looking instruction in data analytics and demographics. The goals of this program are to provide qualified personnel for all segments of the criminal justice system and to help improve the competence and professional status of existing criminal justice personnel.

Master’s in Sociology – Community Development

Partnered with Great Plains IDEA, the Master’s in Community Development opens up the opportunity to study with leading educators and researchers representing diverse fields, including community and regional planning, architecture, banking, sociology, Native American studies, economics and natural resources. See the whole picture, and sharpen your ability to make democratic and socially conscious decisions.

“I really like the flexibility of online learning. It’s great to be able to have a job and still work on getting a Master’s degree… this is a nice balance of both.”

- Rochelle R., M.S. Sociology – Community Development Student

Students have the opportunity to select a specialized emphasis of study in one of four areas—working with indigenous communities, building economic capacity, natural resource management or nonprofit management. Each of these study areas has three separate capstone options—a thesis, practicum or additional elective courses. Graduates aim to work with leaders to build more prosperous communities for all.

Certificate in Native Community and Economic Development

This graduate certificate is designed for professionals interested in expanding their skills and understanding of indigenous communities and economic development. Students taking these courses are often employed or seeking employment in Native-serving organizations and agencies who have extended their programming to Native-majority neighborhoods. Programs in extension, education and social service agencies have recognized the distinctive challenges and developed specific approaches for programs to be successful in Indian Country, creating a growing need for a workforce cognizant of these unique challenges.

Credit for Prior Learning

The Department of Sociology and Rural Studies recognizes that not all learning occurs on campus and supports out-of-class, service and applied learning opportunities and internships. Experiential learning proficiencies based on education opportunities taken advantage of in workplaces, communities and civic engagements enhance the virtual classroom. Credit for Prior Learning is available to help transfer some of these real-world experiences into college credit.

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Download the Online Undergraduate Degree Guide