M.S. & Certificate in
Rural Sociology

Building stronger communities

The Master of Science in rural sociology is offered through the Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Sociology. Courses are taught by faculty from the Department of Agricultural Economics & Rural Sociology and Auburn’s Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work in the College of Liberal Arts. 

Research areas from our students and faculty include environmental justice, natural resource dependency, climate studies, international developments, governance and legal studies of agrifood systems, local food studies and much more. 

Our graduates have gone on to Ph.D. programs in sociology or related fields such as environmental studies and social forestry, or to professional programs in law and medicine. Others have chosen careers in state and local government, as well as positions in associated agencies and non-governmental organizations. We also have graduates who pursued work in the private sector including corporate and consulting positions, as well as entrepreneurship. 

Master’s & certificate PROGRAMs

The information below is a brief description of master‘s programs in rural sociology offered by our departments. 

Master of Science (M.S.)

The rural sociology master’s (M.S.) degree focuses on equipping students with the scientific and technical skills necessary to assess and to evaluate both the challenges and the opportunities found within and among rural communities. 

Learning Outcomes

Graduates with an M.S. in rural sociology from Auburn University will be able to: 

  • Understand demographic, cultural and spatial definitions of rurality. 
  • Apprehend agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining and other forms of resource extraction as material bases for the rural economy.   
  • Articulate framing and discourse processes in relation to food, agriculture and natural resource issues.  
  • Identify structures of injustice and inequality associated with rurality in the U.S. and the world. 
  • Understand rural community adaptation and resilience. 
  • Collect, analyze and interpret scientific data from human subjects.  
  • Effectively synthesize and communicate social science. 

curriculum & requirements

We offer both a thesis and non-thesis M.S. in rural sociology. Both degree options share a common core of three courses at the graduate level: social theory, research methods, and statistics 

The thesis option requires a minimum of 24 hours of graduate-level coursework and six hours of graduate credit for the thesis (see Completed Theses in Rural Sociology here). The non-thesis option requires a total of 36 hours of graduate coursework and a capstone paper. Additional information can be found in the program handbook (see Guide to Graduate Study here). 



AERS Graduate Handbook (PDF)

graduate certificate in rural studies

From the executive director of the Jane Goodall Institute in Uganda, to a territory manager for John Deere, a research project coordinator for Northwestern University, and a cultural resource specialist for the Alabama Bicentennial Commission, students with an AU graduate certificate in the rural studies program have gone on to impressive careers in diverse settings.

curriculum & requirements

The graduate certificate in rural studies extends students’ skills and competencies to better understand rural people and rural places. This program can benefit those who hope to work in small communities or who seek a position in an organization that works to make a difference in the quality of rural lives.

This certificate can augment a student’s current program of study, provide an opportunity to explore a new area, or allow the student to refocus his or her career by specializing in a substantive area of rural studies such as community, environment or food.

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313 Comer Hall

Auburn Univ, AL 36849
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