A sociology professor is someone who holds a doctorate in sociology. Professor or doctor may be appropriate titles if a doctorate degree has been earned. Doctor is more commonly used those who work in research areas, whereas professor is more commonly used those who teach and thus profess their knowledge to others. People with a master’s degree in sociology who teach at a junior or community college or a four-year university are sometimes referred to as professors. A sociology professor’s job description can vary depending on where he or she teaches.
A sociology professor is at least partially focused on teaching classes about his field at four-year colleges and those that offer advanced degrees. These classes could include introductory courses as well as junior/senior level coursework and graduate level work. When there is a large graduate department on campus, part of the professor’s job may be to collaborate with graduate student teachers, who may serve as section leaders for large classes or as teachers in smaller ones.
Professors of sociology may make themselves available to students pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees in sociology to advise them on courses to take and supervise senior, master’s, or doctoral theses, depending on their interests. Courses taught each term may vary, and some professors may have the freedom to design their own field courses, or they may specialize in one area of sociology and only teach classes in that field. Some sociology professors prefer to teach beginning or introductory sociology courses, while others prefer to teach much smaller graduate or upper grade seminar classes.
Many colleges place a strong emphasis on publishing, particularly in graduate and doctoral programs. Constantly presenting new material that is accepted the academic community can add to the sum of knowledge about a particular subject as well as the school’s reputation. As a result, a sociology professor working in this setting understands that part of his or her job entails contributing to the academic literature in his or her field. In sociology, this frequently entails developing research projects or traveling back in time to investigate the sociological aspects of a historical or cultural feature. When current research is involved, professors may invite students to participate as assistants in data collection or collation.
A sociology professor at a college with a strong publish/perish culture teaches fewer than five classes, and may only teach three or four. When a professor is engaged in significant research, the college may not assign classes to him or her at all, but teaching would resume once the project was completed. This is in stark contrast to a junior college sociology professor, who, if full-time, is likely to teach five classes per semester. In this environment, there is a greater emphasis on assisting students in taking general education courses rather than on publishing.
Some of the things a sociology professor might do are:
Create and teach classes, including preparing all tests and materials, as well as grading some or all of the material.
Students can be supervised counseling or advising them on subject study, serving as thesis advisers, or directly employing section teachers or research workers.
Participate in research and scholarly projects that will be published.
A sociology professor may also consult with or advise the general public or think tanks on issues in the field, collaborate with a university to develop curriculum standards for the sociology department, or serve as a department head and represent the department’s concerns to the university.