Sociology is the systematic study of social life and behavior, especially in relation to social systems and institutions. While sociology focuses primarily on the patterns regularities in social life, it also examines unusual behavior.
Contemporary emphases in applied sociology and gerontology have expanded career opportunities at the bachelor's-degree level that can lead to employment in government, private industry, community organizations, businesses and commerce, social services, education, urban planning, health, and criminal justice. A major in sociology can also lead to a professional study in law and religion. Sociologists with advanced degrees are primarily employed in teaching and research at the university level.
Gerontology is the inter-disciplinary study of aging and is a rapidly growing field. There are now over 30 million individuals who are over the age of 65 and make up about 13 percent of the American population. This growing population translates into the need for more professionals trained in the field of gerontology. Virtually every professional will be in contact with a maturing population. According to Jan Shirreffs, who is the director of Gerontology at Arizona State University, specialties in gerontology coupled with undergraduate or graduate majors will give students an edge in a very competitive job market.
Specific careers supported with a sociology background might include health agencies, environmental advocacy groups, regional or national government, correctional institutions, companies compiling market research data, foundations, hospitals, education systems, the media, child care agencies, etc. Salaries likely would start at around $25,000-$30,000 per year depending on qualifications and job.
Obtaining a Gerontology Certificate does not guarantee a job opportunity in the aging field. However, you will have the foundation for one of the fastest growing fields and much needed expertise as society follows the trend of its dramatically aging numbers. The aging field is very diverse with multidisciplinary opportunities such as health professional, educator, researcher and service provider. Settings include community, human service and institutions, government agencies, retirement communities, academic and research settings, business, industry, and professional organizations. (Please refer to www.aghe.org orCareers in Aging: Consider the Possibilities published by the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education for more information.)
The Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Youngstown State University offers a Bachelor of Arts in both anthropology and sociology and a certificate in applied gerontology. Students can also minor in these areas. Students who plan to teach sociology in the secondary schools work toward the Bacehlor of the Arts degree with a major in sociology and a minor in education.
Outside the Classroom
Sociology students learn while observing at nursing homes, mental health centers, homes for the aged, political offices, and other agencies. Their research projects are often coordinated with these agencies. The department is justifiably proud of its fine internship program which allows students to earn credit while working in the community.
For information on course requirements, minors, description of courses in sociology please click on the appropriate links below.