Sociology & Anthropology

Note from Dr. John F. Wozniak, Chair of the Department of Sociology and Sociology, WIU, April 17, 2015.

I would like to invite interested students to apply to become a graduate student in our M.A. in Sociology Program at Western Illinois University.

There are many opportunities to further develop your knowledge of sociology as one of our students in this program. Our faculty and I look forward to welcoming new students as well as our current students to take part in the various graduate courses we will be offering during the academic year of 2015-2016.

Our M.A. in Sociology Program has a long and rich history of successfully educating students. The program is built on a solid core of sociological theory and research methods, that prepares students to study diverse areas of the field. Graduate seminars have small class sizes and provide an ideal setting in which to develop critical thinking skills. Our students also engage in thesis research or non-thesis papers, where they receive individualized attention and learn to create sociological knowledge. Our goal is to provide every student with a quality graduate experience—one that is both challenging and supportive.

The M.A. in Sociology Program serves three main purposes. Students often enter with one goal, but come to choose another career direction. As a result, the program is flexible enough to address the different and changing needs students might have.

  • First, the program seeks to provide students with skills that can make them attractive employees for human services organizations. Internships are available for students with this career goal. 
  • Second, the program provides the knowledge and training for students who wish to pursue a career in community college teaching.
  • Third, the program provides a rigorous foundation for students who might wish to pursue further advanced study by moving on to a Ph.D. program.

We trust that our M.A. in Sociology Program offers the kind of learning experience and career preparation that you will find beneficial to your continued educational development. Again, we would be happy to communicate with you should you have any further questions.

Mission Statement - Graduate Program in Sociology

The mission of the graduate program in Sociology is to provide students with:
1) the skills that make them highly desirable employees for human services organizations
2) the knowledge, training, and pedagogical tools to pursue careers at community colleges (teaching and administration)
3) a rigorous foundation to pursue further advanced study in Ph.D. and professional programs.

To achieve these goals, the graduate program is structured to provide students with a critical foundation in social science research techniques, an in-depth understanding of sociological theories, and exposure to and familiarity with various teaching philosophies and strategies. Students also have the opportunity to gain broader substantive knowledge in areas supported by faculty research and specialization, including deviance and criminology, health and illness, organizations and institutions, social inequalities, and social psychology.

Graduate Degree in Sociology

Western Illinois University's Department of Sociology and Anthropology offers a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree in sociology. The M.A. in sociology qualifies individuals for jobs in government, human service agencies, and businesses which specifically call for a social science or behavioral science master’s degree. Community colleges employ M.A. graduates as teachers, and some universities employ them as entry level, temporary teachers. The M.A. also serves as a preliminary to further study for a Ph.D. degree in sociology.

The ongoing programs of applied and basic research, combined with a commitment to teaching excellence, provide the opportunity for sociology graduate students to work side-by-side with award winning faculty in an environment which reinforces the philosophy of “learning by doing.”

Consider these specific advantages:

  • Excellent chance for assistantship funding
  • Small classes
  • Work closely with professors
  • Teaching opportunities for advanced students
  • Thesis or nonthesis option
  • Increased job options and preparation for doctoral studies

About Our Graduates

Students with a master’s degree in sociology have an abundant choice of job possibilities. Some of our graduates teach in universities and community colleges across the country. Others hold governmental administrative positions such as those in the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. Some of our graduates work with teens and adults in group homes. Some graduates use their degrees to advance in rank and pay in jobs they held while taking classes.

By the Numbers

There are typically about 30 active graduate students in the master's program. This is a rather large graduate program; recent studies have concluded that the program ranks first in terms of size and production of graduates among the 83 "MA only" programs in the United States.

  • About 80% who enter the program will earn a master's degree within four semesters.
  • Through aggressive pursuit of additional funding from the University, our department funds 10-12 graduate assistantships each semester.
  • Nearly all our graduates find work for which their master's degree has prepared them (business, social services, courts and probation, communication, and teaching in community colleges).
  • About 20% of our graduates go on to obtain a doctorate in sociology or related disciplines.