Specializing in diversity and equality or in applied and clinical sociology enables students to direct their skills toward marketable career paths.

Starting this fall, students enrolled in Saint Leo University's online sociology degree program may choose from one of two areas of specialization: diversity and inequality or applied and clinical sociology.

Choosing a specialization in a diverse field such as sociology enables students to tailor their elective course selection to study a topic in more depth. The specialization is included on a student's official college transcript.

"Some potential employers may not be familiar with sociology, and they may not understand the skill sets sociology graduates have earned with their degree that are directly applicable to the work place," says Dr. Eileen O'Brien, associate professor of sociology and assistant chair of Saint Leo's Department of Social Sciences.

"These two new specializations will enable students to connect those dots in a way that they can articulate to employers."

The specializations in diversity and inequality and in applied and clinical sociology – and the well-established general sociology track – also are available to students studying on ground at Saint Leo education centers or University Campus.

Diversity and inequality

Relevant coursework
In addition to the sociology core curriculum, students take four diversity and inequality specialization courses that will help them understand the causes and consequences of social inequality both domestically and globally. These courses are:

  • Global Social Change & Development

  • Sex & Gender

  • The Social Ladder: Diversity and Inequality in America

  • Race & Ethnic Relations

"Too often people may be in jobs that, for example, serve poor communities, but they have a weak or inaccurate understanding of why people are poor that may erroneously emphasize individual-level explanations," says Dr. O'Brien.

"Our students will be able to understand the social policy-level influences on why people are poor, or why gender inequality exists that do not over-rely on biological or medical explanations. This will enable them to better serve the persons they work with. They will have a greater understanding of their predicaments and their strengths, without falling back on stereotypical or simplistic analysis."

Career preparation
According to Dr. O'Brien, students who have a heightened understanding of the causes and consequences of social inequalities are better equipped for today's rapidly diversifying workforce.

"Students who are educated enough not to gloss over differences as if they are simply colors of the rainbow, but rather understand intricately the real-life consequences that people in society experience for being different, are going to be better public servants, better marketers, better managers, better consultants, and so forth."

The ability to work with diverse populations is a much sought-after skill that can prepare graduates to assume a variety of positions such as:

  • Public relations specialist

  • Human resources manager

  • Case manager

  • Program analyst

  • Marketing/big data analyst

  • School counselor

  • Military support specialist

  • Diversity trainer

  • Human rights organizer/analyst

Applied and clinical

Relevant coursework
In addition to the sociology core curriculum, students take four applied and clinical specialization courses that will help prepare them to serve clients and shape policy in meaningful and effective ways. Students choose from:

  • Practicing Sociology

  • Families in Cross-Cultural Perspective

  • Medical Sociology

  • Sociology of Aging

  • Internship

Dr. O'Brien says that by studying family, medical and aging sociology students will gain a clearer understanding of human life viewed through sociological lens. They will learn how to do data-driven critical thinking about the populations they will serve and the problems they will encounter and how social policy and social reorganization can help solve health issues.

A new course that Dr. O'Brien says she is excited about is Practicing Sociology, and it will be required for all applied and clinical specialization students. In this hands-on course, students work in groups to tackle case studies of real-world social problems and also interview people who are working in sociology-related fields about their jobs.

Career preparation
Many students are under the misconception that they need a graduate degree before they can actually do anything with sociology, says Dr. O'Brien, but there are actually many occupations where sociology graduates can serve communities and clients that do not require licensure.

The specialization in applied and clinical sociology highlights the ways that bachelor's-level educated sociologists can immediately be effective in the community in a variety of client-based positions, including:

  • Counselor/support group facilitator, e.g., addiction

  • Teacher/trainer, e.g., grief support

  • Mitigation expert/mediator e.g., death penalty support of families; divorce court

  • Organizational consultant, e.g., support in downsizing and rebuilding of trust

  • Program evaluator, e.g., turnaround specialist for businesses/agencies in crisis

  • Community consultant helping groups, such as victims of elder abuse and ethnic/refugee communities and advocating for on matters of public policy

  • Mediator, e.g., conflict resolution in businesses

  • Advocate/consultant, e.g., labor union

General sociology degree

Selecting a specialization is not required. Students in the online sociology degree program (and on-ground programs) may still obtain a general sociology degree.

"Sociology is a broad flexible major that will help you develop skills to bring to a vast number of positions," says Dr. O'Brien.

"It's definitely a flexible major for a flexible work life."

If you're interested in Saint Leo's online sociology degree program, or in pursuing a sociology degree at one of Saint Leo's education centers, please call 888.875.8265 to speak to an enrollment counselor.

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