If you’re deciding between pursuing a degree in psychology or sociology, the first step is knowing the difference between the two fields.
Are you fascinated by the human mind? Do you wonder why some people will wait in line for hours – even days – to get the latest smart phone?
Or, are you more concerned about the way smart phones have changed the family dynamic?
If you’re getting ready to pursue an online degree program and are wondering whether a degree in psychology or sociology is right for you, it’s important to understand the differences between the two.
Psychologists and sociologists both study people, but while psychologists delve into the mind of an individual or small group to understand human behavior and social and emotional reactions, sociologists look beyond individuals to examine society through specific associations – such as the family, race or religion – to understand current issues.
What you might study
As an online psychology student, you’ll study human development, moods, relationships and mental illness. Your coursework will likely include physiological psychology, interviewing and counseling, individual differences and social processes, and the psychology of learning.
Your psychology degree could lead to a career in human services. You could be a vocational career counselor, victim’s advocate, human factors specialist or a health educator. Or, you could become a mental health counselor or school psychologist.
If you pursue an online sociology degree, you’ll study groups and societies and the behaviors and interactions between people. Your coursework might include classes on race and ethnicity, medical institutions, globalization, and social problems.
As a sociology graduate, you will have a flexible degree that could lead to a career as a policy analyst or a social services consultant. You might work in the criminal justice field or public health. Or, you might pursue advanced studies and become a researcher or university professor.
Whichever field you choose, you can expect to take courses in statistics, research methods and behavioral analysis.
While there are distinct differences between psychology and sociology, there are striking similarities as well. Both fields are focused on discovering the underlying influences on human behavior, and both are concerned with improving people’s lives and bettering society.
And while both professions go about their business in distinctive ways, psychology and sociology majors develop a broad range of transferrable skills, such as:
- verbal and written communication skills
- interpersonal skills
- analytical skills
- qualitative and quantitative research skills
- listening and observational skills
Which is right for you?
Still not sure? You’re not alone. Many students have a hard time choosing between the two fields. While it’s true psychology is about the individual and sociology is about society, the differences – and similarities – are noteworthy.
Psychology might be right for you if:
- You’re a great listener.
- You have knowledge and understanding of human behavior.
- You are interested in how the brain works.
- You are trustworthy.
On the other hand, sociology might be right for you if:
- You wonder how and why things are the way they are.
- You want to learn more about the human activities that take place within social structures.
- You want to develop and use instructional materials to teach others.
- You understand the implications of new information for varying populations.
A fresh look
Here’s an infographic that might help. We’ve packed lots of information in this piece that will help you compare and contrast the two fields, and help you decide which is right for you.
Which field are you considering -- psychology or sociology -- and why?
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Infographic credit: Leslie & Kearney
Image credit: Ollyy on Shutterstock.com
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