American Sociological Association

Bachelor's and Beyond 2012

Sociology Majors, Before and After Graduation
Social Capital, Organizational Capital, and the Job Market for New Sociology Graduates

About the Survey

ASA’s prior National Science Foundation-funded longitudinal study of the class of 2005 senior sociology majors—What Can I Do with A Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology?—found that students are excited by the sociological concepts that they learn in their courses. Nonetheless, many sociology departments are concerned about losing the competition for undergraduate majors given a job market with the highest unemployment in a generation, and students saddled with increasing debt.

How Departments Will Benefit from the Study
Given that about 60 percent of majors enter the job market upon graduation, departments need more information about how sociology majors search for and secure jobs, and the kinds of social connections that help them in this process. This information can help departments guide students so that they can use the skills and concepts that excited them in the first place. Without such knowledge, departments risk losing potential majors to more vocationally-oriented programs.

Information Participating Departments Will Receive
According to the literature in the field, over half of job seekers find their positions through personal ties and social connections (social capital). This longitudinal survey focused on job search strategies, including connections and contacts, used by the class of 2012, among other topics. During their senior year, we measured the skills and concepts that students learned as sociology majors and their satisfaction with them. We measured the types of network ties including family, school, and other ties by diverse groups of students in their search for and attainment of jobs. We will investigate the organizational context in which school ties are developed and how sociology departments provide resources to help students gain ties. Once they have graduated, we will examine the kinds of jobs students find and whether or not majors perceive that the jobs they obtain are closely related to sociology.

The ultimate beneficiaries of this longitudinal study will be the approximately 17,000 sociology majors that graduate each year and go directly into the labor market and society, which might benefit from their sociological knowledge.

Participating departments have received aggregated results from the survey that can be compared to national results for the purposes of assessment and self-study.

Visit the What Can I Do With a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology? web page to learn more information and to view findings from the 2005 survey of sociology baccalaureates.


Departmental Resources

Frequently Asked Questions about this study

View a list of departments participating in the 2012 Survey

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval
ASA's research department has obtained the necessary IRB approval to conduct this new longitudinal study, however some institutions might also require additional IRB approval in order for your department to participate. The documents below can be used to submit an application to your local IRB, if necessary.

Key Findings 

Research Briefs and Presentations from this Study: Wave I

Recruiting Sociology Majors: What Are the Effects of the Great Recession?: Concepts, Change, and Careers

What Leads to Student Satisfaction with Sociology Programs?

Sociology Majors: Before Graduation in 2012

Research Briefs and Presentations from this Study: Wave II

Using the Bachelor’s and Beyond Project to Help Launch Students in Careers

Social Capital for Sociology Majors: Applied Activities and Peer Networks

Strong Ties, Weak Ties, or No Ties: What Helped Sociology Majors Find Career-Level Jobs?

Sociology, Criminology Concentrations, and Criminal Justice: Differences in Reasons for Majoring, Skills, Activities, and Early Outcomes?

Research Briefs and Presentations from this Study: Wave III

Individual Salary is Not Enough: Measuring the Well-Being of Recent College Graduates in Sociology

Recent Sociology Alumni: Would They Major Again?

Jobs, Careers & Sociological Skills: The Early Employment Experiences of 2012 Sociology Majors

First Generation Sociology Majors Overcome Deficits

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