Mar 25, 2019  
2016-2018 Catalog 
2016-2018 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Sociological Practice, M.A.

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Program of Study

The mission of the Master of Arts in Sociological Practice at California State University San Marcos is to provide a superior academic and professionally useful graduate education for students interested in working in human services and criminal justice agencies, those who plan for teaching careers at the community college level, and those who plan to pursue a Ph.D. degree.

The focus of the program is on sociological practice — applying sociology to current social problems confronting the community with developing sensitivity to multicultural, gender, sexual identity, and age differences.

The M.A. in Sociological Practice includes theory and methods, field experience in human service and criminal justice environments, and applied research. Solidly grounded in social scientific theory and methods, the program prepares students for a range of careers in which professionals are required to provide needed services to clients and to administer and evaluate programs in human services and criminal justice agencies. Applied work is sufficiently central to the discipline of sociology that we also accept students with intentions to continue on to a Ph.D. program in sociology.

The faculty represent the major sectors of human services – aging and gerontology, the sociology of health and mental health, criminology and juvenile delinquency, social welfare, and family and community studies. They are engaged in and committed to teaching and research in these fields and to students gaining field experience in them. In addition, the program is uniquely prepared to offer courses in the study of differences in ethnicity, race, gender, age, and sexuality, and how these qualities may affect values and practices in the human services and criminal justice sectors.

Student Learning Outcomes

The Master of Arts degree in Sociological Practice has been designed primarily as a terminal degree for students seeking careers in community college teaching, the human services or criminal justice sectors, or as preparation for advanced graduate study.

Students who graduate with a Master of Arts in Sociological Practice degree will be able to:

  1. Locate, analyze, assess and skillfully articulate a range of sociological scholarship and discourse;
  2. Critically apply a range of social theories to the development and assessment of social policies and programs in diverse contexts;
  3. Deploy advanced quantitative and qualitative research skills to research and theorize critical social problems;
  4. Demonstrate awareness of multiple standpoints, their social foundations in constructions of difference, inequality, privilege and oppression (e.g., gender, race/ethnicity, social class, sexuality, age, abilities, region, nationality), and their implications for social theory and social justice;
  5. Demonstrate ability to advocate for sociologically informed decision-making.

Core Coursework

All students in the Master of Arts in Sociological Practice Program complete a series of required preparatory and core courses that build proficiency in each of the learning objectives listed above.The required courses include:

  • A basic introduction to sociological practice (SOC 501 ; Addressing learning objectives 4 and 5);
  • A foundation in research processes and methodological approaches employed in sociological practice (SOC 515 , SOC 575 , and SOC 620 ; Addressing learning objectives 1 and 3);
  • Practical application of social theory to critically analyze social problems and societal programmatic and policy responses to them (SOC 610  and SOC 630 ; Addressing learning objectives 1, 2, 4, and 5);
  • Communicate sociologically informed theory and research to a broad range of scholarly and non-sociological audiences (SOC 640 , SOC 690 , and SOC 695 ; Addressing learning objectives 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5);

Admission and Application Requirements

Successful applicants to the MASP should have an undergraduate major in sociology, or at least four upper-division courses in sociology including courses in both sociological theory and research methods and at least one undergraduate course in statistics, or an extremely strong academic record in a field that is closely related to sociology. Applicants should have computing skills sufficient to complete graduate work in sociology. Admission decisions will be affected by the appropriateness of the undergraduate training to the dimensions of the program as well as by the educational and career intentions of the applicants. Applicants must have an undergraduate academic record with a grade point average of at least 3.0 in the last 60 units of undergraduate study. In addition, an average of 3.0 is expected in upper-division sociology (or related major) courses.

A complete application consists of:

University application materials sent directly to the Admission Office of Cal State San Marcos consisting of:

  • completed application form for admission to Cal State San Marcos;
  • application fee; and
  • one set of official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, with indication of graduation.

Department application materials sent directly to the Sociology Department (see address below) consisting of:

  • completed application form;
  • one set of official transcripts of the undergraduate record from all institutions which the candidate attended, with indication of an undergraduate degree;
  • statement describing the applicant’s (1) educational, research, and work experiences relevant to this program, and (2) educational and career aspirations and goals;
  • one formal writing sample that met an academic requirement;
  • GRE test scores (optional); and
  • three letters of evaluation sent with letter of evaluation waiver form.

Department application materials should be sent directly to the Sociology Department Administrative Coordinator at: California State University San Marcos, 333 S. Twin Oaks Valley Rd., San Marcos, CA 92096-0001.

Application Deadlines:

  • February 15th for admission in the Fall Semester (no spring admission).

Degree Requirements

The program is based on 38 semester units (12 courses) of study, of which at least 34 units are at the graduate level (500-600). Students will complete an eight-unit (2-course) thesis sequence. The thesis will be supervised by a committee and defended at a final oral examination.

A full-time student taking three courses in each semester would be able to complete the degree in two years. Part-time students can select two courses per semester to complete the program in three years.

The GPA in the graduate program must be at least 3.0 to graduate. Units earned not in residence at Cal State San Marcos may not exceed six and must be approved by the student’s advisor and the graduate program coordinator.

Seminar courses include graduate Sociology courses described as seminars. Three units at the 400-level may be substituted for a seminar with approval by the graduate program committee. An independent study (600-level) course may also substitute for a seminar with approval by the graduate program committee.


Students must maintain a 3.0 GPA and a grade of at least C in all classes; if the cumulative GPA falls below 3.0 for two consecutive semesters, the student will be dropped from the program. Students must be continuously enrolled unless they apply for a leave of absence. Students who are not continuously enrolled, or who have a leave of absence of longer than two semesters, must petition the program for continuation. All requirements for the degree must be finished within five years after the beginning of any coursework in the graduate program.

Students will have the graduate coordinator as their graduate program advisor until they form their thesis committee. Their thesis committee will be comprised of three tenure-track Sociology faculty. If students so desire, they may add a fourth member from the wider University or general community. Students will work closely with their advisors in the selection of courses and research topics.

Master’s Student Graduate Writing Assessment Requirement

Students need to fulfill the Master’s Student Graduate Writing Assessment Requirement before advancing to candidacy. Please refer to Graduate Writing Assessment Requirement  for more information regarding this requirement.

Advancement to Candidacy

A thesis proposal is required to complete SOC 690 , and completion of SOC 690  is required for advancement to candidacy. The thesis is required to complete SOC 695 . The proposal and thesis must be approved by the thesis committee. SOC 695  is typically completed at the end of the second year for full-time students and must be completed by the end of the fifth year. Students who have completed all coursework, but who have not completed their thesis, will enroll in SOC 699  to maintain continuous enrollment.

Students will be advanced to candidacy once they have successfully passed an oral defense of their research proposal. The thesis committee will assist the student in the development of the thesis proposal and research for the thesis and will serve as the committee for the oral examination once the thesis is completed.

Course of Study

Students in full-time attendance will proceed with the graduate coursework in the following manner:

Second Year, Second Semester

Students in Part-Time Attendance Will Proceed with the Graduate Coursework in the Following Manner:

Option 1

First Year, Second Semester

Second Year, Second Semester

Third Year, First Semester

Third Year, Second Semester


Option 2

Second Year, First Semester

Second Year, Second Semester

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