Deciding upon a college major can be one of the most important life decisions an individual can make. Among the most diverse and engaging majors in Bay Area colleges and universities is sociology. Linda McAllister, Ph.D. is department chair of Bay Area Social Sciences at Berkeley City College.

(Photo Courtesy of Linda McAllister, Ph.D.)

(Photo Courtesy of Linda McAllister, Ph.D.)

What is your title and your educational background?

“In addition to my position as Department Chair, I’m co-director of the Program for Adult College Education (PACE). PACE is an evening and weekend learning community for working adults looking to complete an Associate of Arts degree and transfer to a four-year college or university. I also teach sociology classes at BCC.”

“I completed my B.A. in Sociology at the State University of New York (SUNY) Stony Brook and my M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor.”

What educational requirements are necessary to enter a career in sociology?

“To work as a university researcher or university professor, a Ph.D. is generally required. A Master’s degree in Sociology is needed to teach sociology at a community college. Undergraduate students of sociology need not go on to advanced graduate studies and work at a university as a researcher or professor. Sociology as a course of study is an excellent pathway to a range of careers. Given the focus of sociology – the scientific study of human society, particularly behavior in groups and social institutions – sociology lends itself readily to careers in public policy, public health, social work, social services, social welfare, consulting, urban planning, demography, marketing and human resources.”

What career advice can you offer to college graduates entering the workforce?

“Sociology majors should apply broadly. If you do not find your “dream job” right after graduation, look for jobs that provide opportunities to build experience related to your interests. Always do your best work no matter how long you envision yourself in any position and take advantage of opportunities to build networks and develop new skills. Build a portfolio that documents these new skills for future job opportunities.”

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on


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