Applied Sociology, MA

Our applied Master of Arts (MA) Program in Applied Sociology is designed to help our students understand the social forces that shape their world with practical training in research methods, statistics, and evaluation research. The program's applied focus integrates research approaches and course work that emphasizes faculty core strengths in medical sociology, criminal justice, and immigration research.

Our graduates are researchers, managers, instructors, policy analysts, and service providers in health care, social service and criminal justice agencies, and in corporate departments throughout the area. Many have continued their advanced studies in PhD programs.

Learn more by downloading our Fact Sheet.


As the only public university in Boston, the cost of graduate study is substantially less than that of applied programs offered by neighboring private institutions. The MA program offers a limited number of assistantships. Most graduate assistants work 4.5 or 9 hours per week during the semester(s) they are supported, although occasionally a student may receive a 13.5- or 18-hour assistantship. Assistants receive a stipend in addition to tuition remission and partial fee payment including health insurance. Teaching assistants are expected to complete the program's seminar on teaching.

Applied Courses

Several core courses provide a foundation in the theories and methods used by applied sociologists: foundations of applied sociology; applied sociological theory; social policy analysis; social problems; complex organizations; and research methods. Specialty courses and concentrations develop substantive expertise in areas such as criminology/corrections, the sociology of law, medical sociology, psychiatric epidemiology, and alcohol, drugs and crime. Special concentrations, offered in collaboration with other programs, include forensic services, gerontology, dispute resolution, and counseling. Staff at the Center for Survey Research offer a survey research practicum.

Internship or Capstone Experience

Many students complete an internship that reflects their academic and professional interests. Internships may be service or research oriented. In either case, they enhance one’s understanding of the relationship between theory, research, policy, and practice. The internship can be waived for those with comparable experience and for those who complete the program’s course on teaching. All students must complete a capstone requirement to demonstrate their mastery of the knowledge and skills required by applied sociologists. This requirement can be satisfied by a thesis, a research paper, or a comprehensive exam.

Completion Requirements

Graduate seminars are scheduled in the late afternoon and evening (2.5 hours, once per week). Full-time students can complete requirements for the MA in two years. All matriculated students, whether full- or part-time, must complete the degree requirements within five years. A special combined BA/MA program for UMass Boston undergraduates enables students to begin graduate coursework in their senior year and complete the MA requirements in the subsequent year.

Transferring Courses into the Applied Sociology Program

Before enrollment in the program, students should consult with the graduate program director regarding transfer credits or UMass Boston undergraduate credits if these are intended to satisfy degree requirements. Note: only two graduate courses can be transferred into the program.

Students may obtain and satisfy degree credits by concentrating in coursework in selected other graduate programs. In particular, full-time students in the MA Program in Applied Sociology may pursue a course of study leading to a certificate in gerontology or dispute resolution. Please note: enrollment in these areas is contingent on approval of the respective program directors.

How to Apply

Applications and general graduate admission information are available in the Graduate Studies Bulletin as well as the Graduate Admissions website. A required fee of $60 for domestic applicants, or $100 for international applicants, must accompany the application. All applications must be sent to the Office of Graduate Admissions. When all materials have been submitted to and received by the Office of Graduate Admissions, they are then sent to the director of MA Program in Applied Sociology for review.

Admission Requirements

  1. A strong undergraduate record in sociology and related subjects, with at least a 3.0 grade point average (GPA) in sociology and related course work. Applicants with an overall GPA of at least 3.0 will receive preference, while those below 2.7 will not be considered. Applicants who do not hold a BA in sociology should have at least 18 semester credits or the equivalent in undergraduate sociology or another social science field related to program objectives.
  2. Successful completion of undergraduate courses in sociological theory, research methodology, and statistics. Candidates admitted to the program who are deficient in any of these areas may be required to complete these undergraduate courses not later than the end of the second semester of residence in the program. In some cases, a course with a strong theoretical component can be accepted as satisfying the theory prerequisite.
  3. A statement of approximately 1,200 words on academic and career interests in applied sociology, including the applicant’s desired area of specialization in the program.
  4. A written sample from coursework in sociology or a related discipline.
  5. Results of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
  6. Three letters of recommendation from individuals acquainted with the applicant's interests who are qualified to evaluate his or her potential for sustained graduate study in applied sociology. At least one of the letters must be from a faculty member with whom the applicant is studying or has studied.

International Students: Applicants from countries where English is not the primary language are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). A Declaration and Certification of Finances form must also be completed. International students should see the Graduate Admissions web site for additional instructions. Also, the UMass Boston Office of Global Programs hosts a student orientation and a mandatory workshop on immigration regulations each term.