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Environmental Careers

What careers are possible in this area?
Students with a major in environmental sociology can go into many fields. Some plan to work in the government or nonprofit area on environmental policy, some want to practice environmental law, and some go into the private sector to work in green-energy companies and in the environmental management divisions of large companies. If you plan to work in the business or nonprofit sector, one option is to add the minor in Business. If you are planning on taking a few years off after college and entering the workforce directly upon graduation, you might also considering adding some technical skills such as additional courses in statistics, journalistic writing, or geographical information systems.

What is environmental sociology?

See the page Environmental Sociology at Vanderbilt for more background on the environmental sociology major.

What is special about the major in sociology?
The sociology degree has a very strong sequence of four courses on theory and research methods that are the foundation for the major. The sequence provides you with the basis for reading scientific research and also conducting research. Some of our students have gone on to jobs in think tanks and other nonprofit organizations, where these skills are very important.

A degree in sociology provides several skills that can be the basis of a successful career in many fields:

  • Sociologists are trained to weigh controversies and develop complex analyses of social and organizational problems, a skill that is important in many careers, especially those that involve leadership positions.
  • Sociologists understand how to review a social science literature on a problem, assess the direction of the literature, and provide thoughtful and well-written summaries and analyses. The capacity to digest, analyze, and synthesize a diverse set of sources is valuable in a wide range of careers.
  • Sociologists are trained to translate research into policy analysis and develop policy based on research.
  • Sociologists are trained in hypothesis generation and testing, data analysis, and both qualitative and quantitative methods.
  • Sociologists have a broad understanding of our rapidly changing world and are well-equipped to adapt to new career circumstances and to help organizations adapt to changing economic, political, and social environments.

Combining majors and minors
There are many opportunities to create a bundle of majors and minors that work for you. Some students opt to combine a major in sociology with an environmental focus and a major in earth and environmental sciences or civil and environmental engineering. You can also choose one major and one or more minors, such as the minor in sociology with an environmental focus or the minor in Environmental Science. There is also a minor in Environmental and Sustainability Studies that has a focus on humanities and social sciences courses.