Career Pathways

A graduate degree in Sociology provides extensive skills and knowledge valuable for a number of rewarding careers. Individuals with advanced degrees in sociology stand out from other job candidates for their high-level skills in data analysis and their knowledge of social patterns. For some, careers might draw directly on the topics that they study in courses and pursue in thesis work. For all, graduate work develops advanced skills in analytical and critical thinking, problem solving, data analysis, written and oral communication, and teamwork.

Resources for Career Planning as a Sociology Graduate Student

Some people start a graduate program knowing the career that they hope to attain after graduation. Many others commit to a career path while they are in graduate school or even after they graduate. Advanced studies in sociology can prepare students for a variety of meaningful and rewarding careers including work in academic, government, business and nonprofit sectors. Check our PhD alumni page to see the range of careers that our PhD graduates have pursued.

The university has career counsellors and programs to help graduate students explore their options. While the School of Graduate Studies offers programs useful for all graduate students, the Faculty of Arts and Science’ Milestones and Pathways program focusing specifically on helping doctoral candidates in the social sciences, sciences and humanities explore career options through a series of professional development workshops and alumni networking events.

Students can also find useful advice in The Chronicle of Higher Education and University Affairs, both of which have careers advice columns. These programs and resources not only provide an overview of the types of careers that graduates can pursue, they also help students with developing the skills to prepare themselves for the job market.

Students interested in non-academic work can draw on the expertise offered through the University of Toronto Career Centre and from networks among our alumni. The Career Centre offers online “job shadowing” opportunities (posted 3 times a year) that can be useful for exploring options. The university also has a “Ten Thousand Coffees” network where students can connect with alumni in various fields and arrange informational interviews.

Students should also explore the opportunities available through MITACS. MITACS funds internships for graduate students (partially funded by the business or not-for-profit hiring organization) and postdoctoral opportunities.

The following discusses a few of the more common career paths.

Universities and Colleges

Teaching and Research Positions

About 76%* of our PhD graduates find careers conducting research and teaching in universities or colleges. Some graduates find tenure-stream positions immediately upon graduation. Others find a postdoctoral fellowship and spend a few years focused on research, or start with positions teaching in short-term contracts.The department trains students for academic careers through a variety of mechanisms aimed at promoting scholarly publications and the development of teaching skills. The School of Graduate Studies offers resources and events to help students prepare for the academic job market. Faculty supervisors and the Graduate Chair are also available to provide mentoring for this career path.

Research and Academic Administration

In addition to faculty positions, universities also hire MA and PhD graduates into research and academic administration careers. Such positions include jobs supporting grant writing, research ethics, data analysis and positions related to academic governance and services. Professionals at the University of Toronto are often happy to provide informational interviews to help guide graduate students who are considering career paths in university or college administration.

The Public Sector

Federal, Provincial and Municipal governments are all employers who frequently hire people with advanced degrees in sociology. One avenue of entry to a civil service career is through the MITACS Canadian Science Policy Fellowship.  Graduating students can apply through MITACS and be matched with a federal or provincial government agency for a 12-month placement.

The federal civil service targets advanced degree holders for its Recruitment of Policy Leaders program and divisions within the government, such as Statistics Canada, also have targeted recruitment programs seeking employees with data analysis skills. Although provincial and municipal governments do not have recruitment programs that specifically target people with advanced degrees, they also often have positions that draw on data analysis and other skills attained in graduate school. Opportunities are often posted on government-hosted web boards and professionals in the jobs of interest are also often happy to provide informational interviews.

Private Consulting, Research and Survey Firms

Many employers in the private sector value people with advanced degrees in Sociology. Market research firms, like Synqrinus, are eager to recruit sociology graduates who understand research methodologies. Consulting firms also often the insights that advanced degree holders bring to their companies. While Bain Consulting has an internship program designed particularly for candidates with advanced degrees, many others have opportunities that are more sporadic. Here, too, an informational interview with an alumnus currently working for a consulting firm could be helpful for understanding the field.

Finally, some of our PhD graduates find meaningful employment conducting freelance research and consulting on topics related to their expertise. This career path requires an entrepreneurial spirit and a commitment to developing the networks needed to build a client base.

Think Tanks and Research Institutes

Think tanks and non-academic research institutes are attractive career options for sociologists with advanced degrees because they offer an opportunity to conduct research and have an impact on public policy. There are almost 100 think tanks operating in Canada. There are many more located outside of Canada. As some institutes are focused on niche issues and some are heavily partisan, it is worthwhile to research the specific think tank before querying about opportunities. Faculty members who conduct policy-relevant research often have contacts in Canadian and international think tanks and can provide advice for students pursuing careers in this area. Many think tanks and research institutes offer paid internships that can be help launch a career. The following is a list of currently active Think Tanks in Canada.

OrganizationLocationResearch and Policy FocusWebsite
Academic Club for Peace & Conflict StudiesOttawa, ONPeace, human rights, security in the academic spherehttps://academicpeace.ca/
Arctic Institute of North AmericaCalgary, ABEnvironment, Natural resources, Energyhttps://arctic.ucalgary.ca/
ArcticNetQuebec, QCClimate change in the coastal Canadian Arctic; environment, natural resources, energyhttp://www.arcticnet.ulaval.ca/
Asia Pacific FoundationVancouver, BC / Toronto, ONCanada-Asia relationshttps://www.asiapacific.ca/
Atlantic Institute for Market StudiesHalifax, NSEconomic and public policy in Atlantic Canadahttps://www.aims.ca/
Atlantic Provinces Economic CouncilHalifax, NSAtlantic Canadian economyhttps://www.apec-econ.ca/
Broadbent InstituteOttawa, ONIncome inequality, green economy, democratic renewal, social democracyhttps://www.broadbentinstitute.ca/
Brookfield InstituteToronto, ONInnovation policyhttps://brookfieldinstitute.ca/
Business Council of AlbertaCalgary, ABAlberta's policy environment, government investments and institutions; skills, training & education; role of business in society; diversity, inclusion & access to opportunity; prosperity amplifiers; healthhttps://www.businesscouncilab.com/
Business Council of CanadaOttawa, ONEconomic and social policyhttps://thebusinesscouncil.ca/
C.D. Howe InstituteToronto, ONPublic economic policy; education; environment, natural resources, energy; gender; governance, transparency; health; private sector development; social policy; technology, innovation; trade, economics, financehttps://www.cdhowe.org/
Canada 2020Ottawa, ONCanadian governmenthttps://canada2020.ca/
Canada West FoundationCalgary, AB Public policy in Western Canada; environment, natural resources, energy; governance, transparency; law, justice, human rights; social policy; technology, innovation; trade, economics, financehttps://cwf.ca/
Canada’s Ecofiscal CommissionMontreal, QCEconomic and environmental policyhttps://ecofiscal.ca/
Canada’s Public Policy ForumOttawa, ONGovernance and public policyhttps://ppforum.ca/
Canadian Agri-Food Policy InstituteOttawa, ONAgri-food public policy; Environment, Natural resources, Energy; Food, agriculturehttps://capi-icpa.ca/
Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration StudiesToronto, ONCanadian refugee and forced migration; law, justice, human rights; social policyhttp://carfms.org/
Canadian Centre for Economic AnalysisToronto, ONprivate sector development, social policy, trade, economics, finance, transport, infrastructure, urbanhttps://www.cancea.ca/
Canadian Centre for Policy AlternativesOttawa, ON / Offices across CanadaSocial, economic, environmental policy; education; environment, natural resources, energy; gender; law, justice, human rights; social policy; technology, innovation; trade, economics, financehttps://www.policyalternatives.ca/
Canadian Constitution FoundationCalgary, ABDefending constitutional rights and freedoms; governance, transparency; health; law, justice, human rightshttps://theccf.ca/
Canadian Council on Social DevelopmentKanata, ONSocial development; governance, transparency, social policyhttp://www.ccsd.ca/
Canadian Economics AssociationOttawa, ON / Vancouver, BCAcademic economicshttps://www.economics.ca/cpages/home
Canadian Energy Research InstituteCalgary, AB / Ottawa, ONEconomic and environmental policy (Energy production, transportation, consumption sectors)https://ceri.ca/
Canadian FoundationOttawa, ONCanadian Relations with Latin America and the Caribbean; Education; Gender; International affairs, development; law, justice, human rights; private sector development; social policyhttps://www.focal.ca/
Canadian Global Affairs InstituteCalgary, AB / Ottawa, ONGlobal affairs (defence, diplomacy, trade, resources, development)https://www.cgai.ca/
Canadian Institute for Climate ChoicesOttawa, ONenvironment, Natural resources, Energyhttps://climatechoices.ca/
Canadian Institute for Identities and MigrationMontreal, QCDefense, Peace, Security ; Health; International affairs, development; Law, justice, human rights; Social policyhttps://www.ciim.ca/en/
Canadian Institute of Advanced ResearchToronto, ONLife & Health; Earth & Space; Individuals & Society; Information & Matterhttps://cifar.ca/
Canadian International CouncilToronto, ONInternational affairs; defense, peace, security; governance, transparency; international affairs, development; social policyhttps://thecic.org/homepage/
Canadian Research Data Centre NetworkHamilton, ONSocial, economic, and health confidential microdatahttps://crdcn.org/
Canadian Tax FoundationToronto, ON / Montreal, QCTaxation, public finance, fiscal policyhttps://www.ctf.ca/ctfweb/en
Cardus (formerly: Work Research Foundation)Hamilton, ON / Offices across CanadaEducation, Family, Health, Religious Freedom, Social Cities, Work & Economics, Spirited Citizenshiphttps://www.cardus.ca/
Centre d’Étude et de Cooperation
International
Montreal, QCEconomic development, gender equality, food security, human safety and emergency responsehttps://www.ceci.ca/fr
Centre d'études et de recherches internationalesMontreal, QCInternational affairshttps://cerium.umontreal.ca/accueil/
Centre de Recherche en économie de
l'Environnement, de l'Agroalimentaire,
des Transports et de l'Énergie
Quebec, QCEnergy and environment, food, transport, economic developmenthttp://www.create.ulaval.ca/
Centre for International and Defence
Policy
Kingston, ONinternational security and defence policyhttps://www.queensu.ca/cidp/
Centre for International Governance
Innovation
Waterloo, ONTechnology and international governance; defence, peace, security; international affairs, development; law, justice, human rights; trade, economics, financehttps://www.cigionline.org/
Centre for International Sustainable Development LawMontreal, QCInternational sustainable development law; environment, natural resource, energy; governance, transparency; health; law, justice, human rights; trade, economics, financehttp://cisdl.org/
Centre for Security GovernanceKitchener, ONSecurity sector reform; global security and governance challengeshttp://www.secgovcentre.org/
Centre for the Study of Living StandardsOttawa, ONProductivity, living standards, economic well-being; international affairs, development; social policy; trade, economics, financehttp://www.csls.ca/
Centre for Trade Policy and LawOttawa, ONGovernance; international trade; trade policy; trade negotiationshttps://carleton.ca/ctpl/
Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en analyse des organisationsMontreal, QCMultidisciplinary; social and economic policyhttps://www.cirano.qc.ca/
Chaire Raoul-Dandurand en études stratégiques diplomatiquesMontreal, QCInternational relations; political sciencehttps://dandurand.uqam.ca/
Chantier de l'économie socialeMontreal, QCSocial economy of Quebechttps://chantier.qc.ca/
Community Research ConnectionsVictoria, BCcivic literacy, sustainable community development; environment, natural resources, energy; food, agriculture; gender; international affairs, development; social policyhttps://www.crcresearch.org/
Conference Board of CanadaOttawa, ON / Montreal, QC / Calgary, ABCanadian economics, education & skills, sustainability, human resources, immigration, inclusion, indigenous & northern communities, innovation & technology, healthhttps://www.conferenceboard.ca/
Conflict Research CentreOttawa, ONpeace and social justice; defense, peace, security; law, justice, human rightshttps://ustpaul.ca/en/conflict-research-centre-home_628_525.htm
Council of Canadian AcademiesOttawa, ONScientific topics of public interest; Defense, peace, security; education; environment, natural resources, energy; food, agriculture; gender; governance, transparency; health; international affairs, development; law, justice, human rights; media, culture, sport; private sector development; social policy; techology, innovation; trade, economics, finance; transport, infrastructure, urbanhttps://cca-reports.ca/
Council of CanadiansOttawa, ON / Offices across Canadasocial, economic and environmental justice; clean water, fair trade, green energy, public health care, democracyhttps://canadians.org/
David Suzuki FoundationVancouver, BCScience-based education; environment, natural resources, energy; law, justice, human rightshttps://davidsuzuki.org/
Donald J. Savoie InstituteMoncton, NBregional development of l'Acadie, New Brunswick and Atlantic Canada; trade, economics, financehttp://idjs.ca/
Environmental DefenceToronto, ONEnvironmental action, natural resources, energyhttp://environmentaldefence.ca/
Forum des Politique PubliqueOttawa, ONPublic-private dialogue; public sector management; collaborative policy making; environment, natural resources, energy; governance, transparency; law, justice, human rightshttps://ppforum.ca/
Fraser InstituteVancouver, BC / Offices across CanadaGovernment policy, entrepreneurship, well-being; policy formation in welfare reform, privatization, taxation, free trade, government debt, education, poverty, deregulation, healthcare, labour markets, economic restructuring, role of governmenthttps://www.fraserinstitute.org/
Frontier Centre for Public PolicyWinnipeg, MBaboriginal futures; core public sector reform; Crown corporation valuations; cutlure wars; education; healthcare; housing affordability; immigration & workplace; municipalities & cities; policy blueprints; public finance & fiscal federalism; smart green; transportationhttps://fcpp.org/
GPI AtlanticGlen Haven, NSGenuine Progress Index (GPI) - measure of sustainability, wellbeing, and quality of lifehttp://www.gpiatlantic.org/
Groupe de réflection et d’action pour une Haïti nouvelleMontreal, QCReconstruction of Haiti; educationhttp://www.grahn-monde.org/
Human Rights Research and Education CentreOttawa, ONDefense, Peace, Security; Gender; International Affairs, Development; Law, Justice, Human Rights; Social Policy; Governance, Transparencyhttps://cdp-hrc.uottawa.ca/
Institut de politiques alternatives de MontréalMontréal, QCUrban development and democracy in Montrealhttp://ipamontreal.org/?lang=en
Institut du nouveau mondeMontreal, QCDemocracy; citizen participationhttps://inm.qc.ca/
Institut national de la recherche scientifiqueQuébec, QCHealth Biotechnology, Environment, Urbanizationhttps://inrs.ca/
Institute for 21st Century QuestionsToronto, ONGeopolitical, political, social issues; countries that were part of the former Soviet Union; security environment in the Middle East and Asia; international criminal justice; the future of the Arctic; the future of Quebec in Canadahttps://www.i21cq.com/
Institute for Citizen-Centred ServiceToronto, ONGovernment and public sector service delivery; governance, transparency; law, justice, human rightshttps://citizenfirst.ca/
Institute for Liberal StudiesOttawa, ONClassicla liberal ideas; democracy, rule of law, economic and personal freedoms; economics and government, philosophy and society, environmental policy and social policyhttps://www.liberalstudies.ca/
Institute for Research on Public PolicyMontréal, QCEconomic and social policy; global trade and productionhttps://irpp.org/
Institute of Health EconomicsEdmonton, ABHealth policyhttps://www.ihe.ca/
Institute of Intergovernmental RelationsKingston, ONFederalism and intergovernmental relations; national unity, Canada-quebec relations; fiscal federalism; constitutional reform; social unionhttps://www.queensu.ca/iigr/
Institute of Public Administration of CanadaToronto, ONPublic service and administration; international affairs, developmenthttps://www.ipac.ca/
Institute on GovernanceOttawa, ON / Toronto, ONGovernance, transparency; technology, innovationhttps://iog.ca/
Intact Centre on Climate AdaptationWaterloo, ONEnvironment, Natural resources, Energyhttps://www.intactcentreclimateadaptation.ca/
International Centre for the Prevention of CrimeMontreal, QCCrime prevention; securityhttps://cipc-icpc.org/
International Development Research CentreOttawa, ON / Offices across CanadaForeign affairs and development; food, agriculture; technology, innovation; trade, economics, financehttps://www.idrc.ca/
International Institute for Sustainable DevelopmentWinnipeg, MB / Offices across regionsClimate, resources, economies, acting on sustainability, engaging people in sustainable developmenthttps://www.iisd.org/
International Migration Research CentreWaterloo, ONDefense, Peace, Security; International affairs, development; Law, justice, human rightshttp://imrc.ca/
Justice Centre for Constitutional FreedomsCalgary, ABGovernment enforcement of freedom of conscience and religion, freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression (including Freedom of the Press), freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of association, the right to life, liberty and security of the person, equality before the lawhttps://www.jccf.ca/
Liu Centre for the Study of Global IssuesVancouver, BCsustainability, security and social justice, particularly in lower income communitieshttps://www.grad.ubc.ca/unit/liu-institute-global-issues
Macdonald-Laurier InstituteOttawa, ONeconomic and public policy (defence and security, foreign policy, immigration, economic and fiscal policy, Canada-US relations, regulatory, regional development, social policy, aboriginal affairs)https://www.macdonaldlaurier.ca/
Mackenzie InstituteToronto, ONGeopolitical security issues, issues impacting political and social stability (terrorism, organized violence, security)https://mackenzieinstitute.com/
MaytreeToronto, ONSystemic solutions to poverty and strengthening civic communities (poverty and human rights, housing, income security, human rights cities, right to education)https://maytree.com/
Montreal Economic InstituteMontréal, QCEconomics and entrepreneurship, Agriculture, Austrian Economics, Education, Energy Policies, Environment, Health Care, Housing, Labour, Liberalization of Markets, Public Sector Reform, Regulations, Social Services, Taxation, Theory, History and Thinkershttps://www.iedm.org/
Mosaic InstituteToronto, ONDefense, Peace, Security; Gender; International Affairs, Development; Law, Justice, Human Rights; Social Policyhttps://mosaicinstitute.ca/
Northern Policy InstituteThunder Bay, ON / Sudbury, ONSustainable Northern Ontario communities; Indigenous peoples, communities, demographics, economy, environment, infrastructurehttps://www.northernpolicy.ca/
Parkland InstituteEdmonton, ABPolitical economy; economic, social, cultural and political issues facing Albertans and Canadians; democracy and the role of government; just and sustainable economy; quality of lifehttps://www.parklandinstitute.ca/
Parliamentary CentreOttawa, ONParliamentary democracy; defense, peace, security; environment, natural resources, energy; governance, transparency; health; law, justice, human rights; social policyhttps://parlcent.org/
Pearson Centre for Progressive PolicyOttawa, ONProgressive, centrist, and moderate public policy; Indigenous, International, Values, Justice, Democracy, Economy, Energy & Environment, Immigration, Innovation, Health & Socialhttp://www.thepearsoncentre.ca/
Pembina InstituteCalgary, AB / Offices across CanadaClean energy; environment, natural resources, energyhttps://www.pembina.org/
Polaris InstituteOttawa, ONEducation; Environment, Natural resources, Energyhttps://www.polarisinstitute.org/
Pollution ProbeToronto, ONEnvironment, Natural resources, Energy; Social policy; Trade, economics, finance; Transport, infrastructure, urbanhttps://www.pollutionprobe.org/
Second StreetRegina, SKGovernment policieshttps://www.secondstreet.org/
Smart Prosperity InstituteOttawa, ON Green economy; environment, natural resources, energy; food, agriculture; law, justice, human rightshttps://institute.smartprosperity.ca/
Social Research and Demonstration CorporationOttawa, ON / Offices across CanadaPost-secondary education; Adult learning; P-12 education; Employment; Income security; Community capacity; Health; Youth development and inclusion; career development and LMI; Social Finance; Housing policy and homelessnesshttps://www.srdc.org/
Unisféra International CentreMontreal, QC / Offices across CanadaClimate change, sustainable development, corporate responsibility, international developmenthttps://unisfera.org/
Vanier Institute of the FamilyOttawa, ONFamilies and Family Life in Canadahttps://vanierinstitute.ca/
Wellesley InstituteToronto, ONUrban health in the GTA; Housing, Building Healthy Communities; Economic Inequality; Health Equityhttps://www.wellesleyinstitute.com/
Yellowhead InstituteToronto, ONLand and governance policy using First Nation philosophy and community networks; Environment, Natural resources, Energy, Governance, Transparency, Law, Justice, Human rightshttps://yellowheadinstitute.org/
York Consortium on International and Security StudiesToronto, ONInternational and security studies; defense, peace, securityhttps://yciss.news.yorku.ca/

* Data are of 2000-2015 graduates of last known position as of October 2020. 66 graduates are in tenure track faculty positions; 10 are in other teaching or research positions in universities; 7 are working in universities in administrative roles; 2 are working in nonprofits; 3 are in the private sector; 5 are working in the public sector; and 7 are unknown.