May 27, 2024  
2022-2023 Catalog 
2022-2023 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 sound academic and professionally useful graduate education for students interested in working in social services and community 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 issues confronting our communities in light of race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexualities, age, nationality, and legal status. 

The M.A. in Sociological Practice includes courses on theory and methods, critical perspectives on social service delivery, sociological advocacy, and both substantive and skill-based elective seminars. 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 social services, community agencies, and non-profits. The M.A. program also helps prepare students for entry into Ph.D. programs in Sociology and related disciplines.

Courses in the M.A. in Sociological Practice build upon faculty members’ research and community expertise in the areas of aging, education, critical race, gender, and sexualities, health and mental health, critical criminology and juvenile delinquency, immigration, militarism, social welfare, and family and community studies.

Program 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 500 ; Addressing learning objectives 4 and 5);
  • A foundation in research processes and methodological approaches employed in sociological practice (SOC 515 , SOC 560 , and SOC 611 ; 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 530  and SOC 550 ); 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 a strong academic record in a field that is closely related to 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.

A complete application consists of:

University application materials uploaded to CSU Apply 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 besides CSUSM.

In addition, the applicant is required to complete the Department application materials consisting of:

  • completed application form;
  • one set of unofficial transcripts of the undergraduate record from all institutions that the candidate attended, with indication of an undergraduate degree;
  • a statement of purpose;
  • a scholarly writing sample; and
  • the names and email addresses of three people who will submit electronic letters of recommendation on the applicant’s behalf (a minimum of two must be former college or university instructors).

Application Deadlines:

  • March 1st 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) culminating experience sequence. The culminating experience (i.e., thesis, project, or journal article manuscript) 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 California State University San Marcos may not exceed six (6) and must be approved by the student’s advisor and the graduate program coordinator.

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


Students must maintain a 3.0 GPA and a grade of at least C (2.0) 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. A maximum of two leaves of absence are permitted by the University. 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 culminating experience committee. Their committee will be comprised of three tenure-track Sociology faculty. If students so desire, they may add a fourth member from the wider University community. Students will work closely with their advisors in the selection of courses and research topics.

Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement – Graduate Level (GWARGL)

Students need to fulfill the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement – Graduate Level (GWARGL) before advancing to candidacy. Please refer to Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement – Graduate Level (GWARGL)  for more information regarding this requirement.

Advancement to Candidacy

A culminating experience proposal is required to complete SOC 690 , and completion of SOC 690  is required for advancement to candidacy. The culminating experience is the focus of SOC 695 . The culminating experience committee must approve the proposal and student thesis, article, or project. SOC 695  is typically completed at the end of the second year for full-time students and at the end of the third year for part-time students. It must be completed by the end of the fifth year. Students who have taken SOC 695  one time but have not completed their culminating project must enroll in SOC 699  to maintain continuous enrollment. SOC 699  can be taken up to three times.

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

Course of Study

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

Second Year, First Semester

Second Year, Second Semester

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

First Year, Second Semester

Second Year, Second Semester

Third Year, First Semester

Third Year, Second Semester

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