Psychology vs. Sociology: What's the difference?

I was a Junior in high school and I had no idea of what I wanted to major in college. I liked a lot of topics- music, theater, and athletics just to name a few. Then after some research, I discovered the topic of psychology. Psychology definitely interested me and I was strongly considering studying this topic in college. But then I saw other majors very similar to psychology- there was sociology, psychiatry, and social work just to name a few. These majors were all so similar- what's the difference between them?!

I will be writing a series of blog posts to help clarify the differences between psychology and other areas of studies. This will help you decide which major to study when you go to college. Understanding the differences will also help you decide your future career. 

Below is a comparison between psychology and sociology:


Psychology is the study of the human mind and its functions, especially regarding behaviors.* Psychology focuses more on the individual, rather than a group or culture of people. When culture and groups are studied, it is in the framework of individual behaviors. 

Sociology is the study of the development, structure, and functioning of human society.* Therefore, sociology looks more at studying specific types of people, rather than one specific person. 

What they research

Psychologists will research individuals to learn more about human thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and functioning. When groups of people are researched, psychologists are analyzing the behaviors in regards to a mental disorder or mental functioning. 

Sociologists research groups of people with the lens of group behavior. The look at different cultures, organizations and social institutions. The are looking more at group trends and statistics. 

Undergraduate College Courses

A psychology major will have classes such as statistics, abnormal psychology, human growth and development, child development, and multicultural psychology. 

Sociology will take classes such as statistics, sociological theory, human diversity, sociology of gender, sociology of religion, child welfare, and family violence. 

Graduate Majors

Some psychology majors you can study in graduate school include: 

  • Child Life, M.S.
  • Clinical Psychology (Psy.D)
  • Clinical Psychology: Marriage and Family Therapy
  • College Counseling
  • Counseling Psychology 
  • School Counseling 

Some sociology majors you can study in graduate school include:

  • Sociology, M.A.
  • Master of Social Work


Careers in psychology:

  • Mental Health Therapist
  • College Professor
  • Researcher
  • Sports Psychologist
  • Organizational Psychologists
  • School counselor
  • School psychologists
  • Career Counselor
  • and many more!

Careers in sociology

  • Case Manager
  • College instructor 
  • Drug and alcohol counselor
  • Sociological research
  • Social worker
  • Guidance counselor
  • Human resources representative
  • Housing coordinator
  • and many more!

I hope that you find this information helpful! What area of study should I compare next? 

I know that you are going to do great things!

* Oxford dictionary

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