Academic Year 2023 – 2024

General Information

Wallace Hall

Program Offerings:

  • Ph.D.

Affiliated departments:

Director of Graduate Studies:

Graduate Program Administrator:


Graduate studies in the Department of Sociology focus on guiding students who have excelled as consumers of knowledge through the transition to becoming producers of scholarship. Students are encouraged to initiate independent research projects early on and to work closely with a range of faculty—through coursework, independent study, informal mentoring, and an apprenticeship program that provides first and second year students with early exposure to research practices. Undergraduate concentration in sociology is not a prerequisite for admission. The program is primarily designed for students interested in pursuing academic careers, but it is also oriented toward students with skills and applications that are relevant for employment in government and the private sector.

The course of study is oriented toward two goals. The first is competence in the foundations of sociological analysis, including sociological theory, research methods, and social statistics. The second is demonstrated potential for making significant contributions to the sociological literature, as evidenced by the satisfactory completion of a major research paper, mastery of knowledge in specialized fields, and, finally, the dissertation.

The foundations of sociological analysis include: (1) a knowledge of general sociological theory, including its basic concepts, their historical antecedents, and the logic of inquiry; and (2) competence in research methods, including statistical applications and qualitative methods.

Students may also obtain a joint degree in sociology and social policy via a collaborative training program through the School of Public and International Affairs.  Students interested in the joint degree have the option of applying to it at the time of their initial application to the Graduate School or transferring into the program after their first or second year of graduate study with the permission of the relevant directors of graduate study.


Application deadline
December 15, 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (This deadline is for applications for enrollment beginning in fall 2024)
Program length
5 years
General Test - optional/not required

Additional departmental requirements

Sample of written work, 25 page maximum.

Program Offerings

Program Offering: Ph.D.


Students’ programs of study are established in consultation with their academic advisers and with the director of graduate studies and vary according to individual interests, capabilities, and prior training.  The program does not accept transfer credits for previous graduate work at other institutions.

The first two years of doctoral study are primarily centered around coursework and individual research apprenticeships with faculty. Students in the first and second years must take at least 12 courses total over the two years. The department offers a mix of full semester courses and half semester courses known as “mini seminars.” Full semester courses count for a full unit and mini seminars count for half a unit. Students are required to enroll in at least one mini seminar during each semester of the first two years. While this is a minimum requirement, the department recommends that students take 3-4 minis in the first year to receive a broad introduction to sociology and to prepare for the qualifying exam in the beginning of the second year.

Students are also required to take the following within our department: two semesters of statistics, Sociological Theory & History of the Discipline, Techniques and Methods of Social Science, four semesters of a research apprenticeship, and the two-semester 2nd year Empirical Seminar. Completing these courses by the end of the second year will result in satisfying the minimum requirement of 12 units. First year students are also expected to attend departmental colloquia and participate in the department’s Proseminar for first-year students.

A note on the research apprenticeship: The research apprenticeship is a full semester course. It is meant to provide an institutional framework to facilitate student-faculty pedagogical relationships, seed potential collaborative research relationships with faculty members, and teach students the art and science of doing sociological research through a hands-on approach. Students will be required to take this course four times: during the first and second semesters of their first year, and for the entire second year (in conjunction with the Empirical Seminar).

In addition to required courses, students are encouraged to consider additional mini-seminars and methodological courses during their second and third years (in statistics, as well as such methods as ethnography, historical methods, network analysis, computational modeling, or machine learning) offered in the Department of Sociology and throughout the University. 



The department does not have a formal language requirement. Students are expected to master any language skills necessary for satisfactory dissertation research.

Additional pre-generals requirements

Writing Requirement
Each student is expected to write an empirical paper during the second year. This is written in conjunction with the Empirical Seminar (SOC 505 Research Seminar in Empirical Investigation). The paper is advised by the empirical seminar instructor in conjunction with the 2nd year Apprenticeship mentor. 

General exam

The first portion of the general examination is normally taken at the beginning of the second year.  Students will be required to complete a take-home exam in five days (120 hours).  The exam will consist of four parts.  One part is based on the content presented in Theory and History of the Discipline course taken during the first year.  Students individually select three additional substantive fields of sociology in which to be examined.  Reading lists of the relevant literature for each sub-field exam will be made available via Sharepoint.  The second, oral, component of the general examination normally takes place during the exam period of the Spring semester of the second year.  This oral exam involves the presentation of the year-long research project conducted during the second year under the auspices of the Empirical Seminar.  The presentation of the research and response to questions about the research is conducted in a public event to which all faculty are expected to attend.

Qualifying for the M.A.

The Master of Arts (M.A.) degree is normally an incidental degree on the way to full Ph.D. candidacy and is earned after a student successfully completes all coursework and pre-generals requirements. It may also be awarded to students who, for various reasons, leave the Ph.D. program, provided that they have successfully completed at least 10 graduate courses (or 20 mini units).


All students are required to serve as “preceptors” (assistants in instruction) in courses taught by department faculty on several occasions, ordinarily during their second and third years of study.

Post-Generals requirements

Students must choose a dissertation committee and submit a draft dissertation prospectus no later than March 15 of the third year of enrollment.  They must submit a revised and final dissertation prospectus to their committee members and successfully complete a prospectus meeting with their committee no later than May 15 of the third year. The prospectus contains a statement of the problem to be studied, an explanation of its theoretical relevance to sociology, a survey of pertinent literature, and a statement about the sources of data and methodological procedures to be employed. Dissertation plans must be approved by the student's committee before the student is permitted to re-enroll for the fourth year of study.

Dissertation and FPO

In their dissertation, students are expected to demonstrate command of a major theoretical issue in sociology and control of the empirical and theoretical literature relevant to their research topic. They must show high-level competence in research procedures, including design, analysis, and evaluation.  A three-paper option is possible with the agreement of the dissertation committee.

The Ph.D. is awarded only after the candidate’s doctoral dissertation has been accepted and the final public oral examination sustained.


  • Chair

    • Mitchell Duneier
  • Director of Graduate Studies

    • Adam M. Goldstein
  • Director of Undergraduate Studies

    • Timothy J. Nelson
  • Professor

    • Miguel A. Centeno
    • Dalton Conley
    • Matthew Desmond
    • Mitchell Duneier
    • Kathryn J. Edin
    • Patricia Fernández-Kelly
    • Filiz Garip
    • Tod G. Hamilton
    • Jennifer L. Jennings
    • Shamus R. Khan
    • Sara McLanahan
    • Sanyu A. Mojola
    • James M. Raymo
    • Matthew J. Salganik
    • Kim Lane Scheppele
    • Patrick T. Sharkey
    • Paul E. Starr
    • Zeynep Tufekci
    • Frederick F Wherry
    • Yu Xie
    • Viviana A. Zelizer
  • Associate Professor

    • Elizabeth M. Armstrong
    • Adam M. Goldstein
    • Brandon M. Stewart
    • Janet A. Vertesi
  • Assistant Professor

    • Benjamin H. Bradlow
    • Arun Hendi
    • John N. Robinson
    • Sam Trejo
    • Kristopher Velasco
  • Associated Faculty

    • Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi, Near Eastern Studies
  • Lecturer

    • Kyle Chan
    • Tessa J. Desmond
    • Helen Gu
  • Visiting Professor

    • Craig Calhoun
    • Lynn Chancer
  • Visiting Lecturer with Rank of Professor

    • Alondra Nelson

For a full list of faculty members and fellows please visit the department or program website.

Permanent Courses

Courses listed below are graduate-level courses that have been approved by the program’s faculty as well as the Curriculum Subcommittee of the Faculty Committee on the Graduate School as permanent course offerings. Permanent courses may be offered by the department or program on an ongoing basis, depending on curricular needs, scheduling requirements, and student interest. Not listed below are undergraduate courses and one-time-only graduate courses, which may be found for a specific term through the Registrar’s website. Also not listed are graduate-level independent reading and research courses, which may be approved by the Graduate School for individual students.

POL 573 - Quantitative Analysis II (also SOC 595)

The course builds on the material covered in POL571 and 572 and introduces a variety of statistical techniques including Bayesian methods and causal inference. The goal is to show how to apply these methods to data analysis in political science research. The course is particularly useful, but not exclusively, for students planning to take the Quantitative part of the General Exam in Formal and Quantitative Analysis at Level III. Prerequisite: POL572 or equivalent.

POP 501 - Survey of Population Problems (also SOC 531)

Survey of past and current trends in the growth of the population of the world and of selected regions. Analysis of the components of growth and their determinants. The social and economic consequences of population change.

POP 502 - Research Methods in Demography (also SOC 532)

Source materials used in the study of population; standard procedures for the measurement of fertility, mortality, natural increase, migration, and nuptiality; and uses of model life tables and stable population analysis and other techniques of estimation when faced with inaccurate or incomplete data are studied. Prerequisite: 571 or instructor's permission.

SML 515 - Topics in Statistics and Machine Learning (also SOC 516)

The course provides an introduction to modern data analysis and data science. It addresses the central question, "what should I do if these are my data and this is what I want to know"? The course covers basic and advanced statistical descriptions of data. It also introduces the computational means and software packages to explore data and infer underlying structural parameters from them. The topics are exemplified by real-world applications. Prerequisites are linear algebra, multi-variate analysis, and a familiarity with basic statistics and programming (ideally in python).

SOC 500 - Applied Social Statistics

Rigorous introduction to inferential statistics focusing on probability theory as a means to understand the Central Limit Theorem. Course goes on to cover Stata and such topics as descriptive statistics and visualization of data, classical statistical inference, basic non-parametric tests, analysis of variance, correlation, and the basics of multiple regressions. First in a two-course sequence for Sociology graduate students.

SOC 501 - Classical Sociological Theory

The origins of sociology, with a particular emphasis on the major works of the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries.

SOC 502 - Contemporary Sociological Theory

Systematic treatment of the main concepts of sociology and the major tendencies of contemporary sociological theory.

SOC 503 - Techniques and Methods of Social Science

Systematic study of research methods in social science, with emphasis on empirical procedures.

SOC 504 - Advanced Social Statistics

In-depth coverage of the multiple regression models, including the theory underlying it, methods and software used to estimate it, methods to diagnose and correct problems, and methods to extend it. Topics include: maximum likelihood estimation, bootstrapping and robust estimation, diagnosing and correcting for multi-collinearity, non-normal, heteroscedastic, and auto-correlated errors, and handling non-continuous outcomes and hierarchical data. The second in a two-course sequence.

SOC 505 - Research Seminar in Empirical Investigation

Preparation of research papers based on field observation, laboratory experiments, survey procedures, and secondary analysis of existing data banks.

SOC 508 - Proseminar (Half-Term)

This course introduces sociology graduate students to the discipline of sociology and to departmental faculty. Each week members of the faculty lecture about their subfield of sociology; students are provided with required readings in advance of each meeting. Student work is evaluated by class participation and attendance.

SOC 512 - Seminar in Sociogenomics and Biodemography

The focus of the course is recent developments in statistical methods used in human quantitative genetics. We begin with traditional kinship-based approaches and move to molecular genetics approaches. Topics include gene discovery, calculation of heritability of traits using genetic markers, genetic correlation of traits, population stratification, prediction, ancestry, family-based models. Additional, optional modules that we may cover include: methods to detect selection, genes and social networks, the promise and pitfalls of Mendelian randomization, models to detect variance-regulating loci, and gene-by-environment interactions.

SOC 520 - Topics in Sociology of Culture (Half-Term)

Topics in the sociology of culture, which deals with analysis of meaning, communications, symbol systems, the arts, media, science, religion, language, and related topics.

SOC 521 - Sociology of Culture (Half-Term)

This mini-seminar surveys the field, exposing you to major research traditions, themes, and specific areas of study. The course evolves around several debates in the sociological study of culture: relative autonomy vs. dependence, structure vs. agency, instrumentalism vs. expressionism, part vs.whole, synchronic vs. diachronic analysis. These debates are explored against the theoretical and methodological developments of the field.

SOC 522 - Family Sociology: Family Change, Gender, Work and Inequality (Half-Term)

This course introduces central topics, questions, and methods in contemporary family sociology (family demography). We focus on growing family complexity, the mechanisms underlying this trend, and implications for inequality within and across generations. Readings and discussion emphasize relationships between work and family and the changing nature of employment as well as changing attitudes and behavior related to the gender division of labor within families. The six-week session concludes with a session on family behavior and family relationships across the life course and within the context of population aging.

SOC 523 - Seminar in Sociogenomics (Half-Term)

The cost of genotyping is dropping faster than Moore's law is bringing down the price of computing power. As a result, genetic data is pouring into social scientific studies, raising old debates about genes and IQ, racial differences, criminal justice, political polarization and privacy. The goal of this course is to provide foundational knowledge of social genetics research, provide a survey of the core concepts within the subfield, and give students the basic tools they need to pursue research in this line of inquiry.

SOC 524 - Criminology (Half-Term)

This six week course approaches the problems of crime and violence from the perspective of social scientists. Students learn about the central concepts, findings, debates and questions in the study of crime, violence, and punishment over time, moving from explanations that focus on the individual criminal toward explanations that focus on contexts and situations that make violence more likely. The course ends by studying active policy debates in the United States. Throughout, the class spends a substantial amount of time thinking about how to understand crime and violence through the collection and analysis of data.

SOC 525 - Sociology of Gender (Half-Term) (also GSS 526)

This course offers an introduction to theory, perspectives, and empirical research in the Sociology of Gender. The course covers a combination of canonical and contemporary work, consider traditional and current debates, and will include local and global material. This is a reading and writing intensive class.

SOC 529 - Gender and Sexuality (also GSS 529)

This course offers an introduction to theory, perspectives, and empirical research in the Sociology of Gender and Sexuality. The course covers a combination of canonical and contemporary work, consider traditional and current debates, as well as cover US and cross-cultural material. This is a reading and writing intensive class.

SOC 530 - Sociology of Education (Half Term)

Poor students lag academically behind their more advantaged peers, and explanations for this achievement gap are hotly debated. While some have pointed to the quality of education offered in public schools as the primary culprit, others have drawn attention to the role of out-of-school factors in creating and exacerbating these gaps. In this course, which is a graduate-level introduction to the sociology of education, we make sense of competing explanations of pre-K-12 educational performance through a sociological lens, and evaluate the possibilities for and barriers to closing achievement gaps.

SOC 534 - Ethnography for Sociologists II (Half-Term)

Individual sessions focus on such topics as the connections between ethnography and theory (extended case method and grounded theory as two prominent examples), questions of scientific inference in qualitative research, feminist methodologies, researching race and racism, ethnographic authority, exploitation, and the crisis of representation in social science. It is not necessary to have taken the first half to enroll in the second.

SOC 540 - Topics in Economic and Organizational Sociology (Half-Term)

Covers econiomic and organizational sociology, which deals with research on formal organizations, economic institutions, social networks and related topics.

SOC 541 - Economic Sociology (Half-Term): Social Ties, Culture, and Economic Processes

An introduction to economic sociology seen not as a subordination of sociology to economics but as the sociological explanation of economic phenomena. It focuses on alternative accounts of phenomena that most specialists have explained using economic concepts and theory. In particular, it seeks sociological explanations of production, consumption, and distribution, and transfer of assets. After a general orientation to economic sociology as a whole, the course explores economic activities in an unconventionally wide range of settings including households, informal sectors, gift economies, and consumption.

SOC 545 - Advanced Sociological Fieldwork I (Half-Term)

Research practicum in which students write field notes on their experiences in and observations of intensive field placement. Discussions focus on fieldwork roles and relations, observing and describing, writing field notes, field interviewing, ethical issues, and data analysis. Fieldwork and extensive field notes required. Readings focus on reaching hard to reach populations, ethical dilemmas, ongoing relations with IRB, interviewing and journal publishing.

SOC 549 - Workshop on Social Organization

A year-long seminar in three foundational topics in modern economics and organizational sociology: bureaucracies, markets, and informal networks. Specific topics will vary from year to year. Pre-generals students will take the course for credit; advanced students in the economic and organizational sociology cluster will use the workshop as a forum to present their work for criticism and critique the work of others. Students receive one term¿s worth of credit for attending for the whole year.

SOC 550 - Topics in Ethnography (Half-Term)

Covers ethnography and microsociology

SOC 555 - Limits to Prediction (also COS 598J)

Is everything predictable given enough data and powerful algorithms? This seminar explores that question through social science and computer science research in many domains including life trajectories of individuals, geopolitical events, weather, disease outbreaks, social media and, somewhat speculatively, artificial general intelligence. We aim to identify fundamental limits, learn about common pitfalls, and explore policy implications. Coursework is a mix of reading and empirical work tailored to students' backgrounds. The course is designed to facilitate publishable student research in both social science and computer science.

SOC 557 - Technology Studies (Half-Term)

This half-semester graduate course introduces you to basic concepts, theoretical frameworks, and empirical studies in the sociology of technology. The course draws largely on science and technology studies, a hybrid field with tools optimized for the study of science and technology in social context; it also draws related materials from recent literature in the sociology of work, technology and organizations, media studies, anthropology, and communication.

SOC 560 - Topics in Social Stratification (Half-Term) (also AAS 561)

Covers social stratification and social inequality, including courses on race and gender

SOC 575 - Topics in Migration and Development (Half-Term)

Covers migration and development, including internal migration, transnational migration, research related to immigration policy, and the study of national and societal development.

SOC 581 - Urban Sociology (Half-Term)

For the first time in history, more than half of the world's population lives in cities. By 2030 that figure may rise to 60 percent. Such telluric transformations are taking place amidst (1) global economic integration; (2) rapid climatic and environmental change; and (3) rising levels of migration both internal and across international borders. The course provides a sketch of urban evolution prior to the onset of modernity. It then examine urbanization in the United States and selected locations in Latin America, Europe, and Asia with special attention to spatial reconfigurations, population shifts, and challenges faced by urban dwellers.

SOC 591 - Seminar in Teaching

Instruction in teaching sociology at the graduate and undergraduate level.

SOC 592 - Text as Data: Statistical Text Analysis for the Social Sciences (Half-Term)

A survey of approaches to computer-assisted text analysis with a focus on applications in the social sciences. The course takes a task-based approach, learning techniques for representation, discovery, measurement, prediction and causal inference. Familiarity with linear regression at the level of SOC 500 is required. Code demonstrations use the R programming language

SOC 594 - Extramural Summer Research Project

Summer research project designed in conjunction with a faculty adviser and an industrial, NGO, or governmental sponsor that provides relevant research experience. A final paper is required.

SOC 596 - Computational Social Science (Half-Term)

Half-semester seminar on introduction into web-based social research. Topics include experiments, click-stream data, and crowdsourcing. Techniques and approaches will be illustrated with examples from the literature. No previous knowledge of computer programming is required, and graduate students from other disciplines are welcome.

SOC 599A - Research Apprenticeship

The Research Apprenticeship involves faculty assignment to students that lead to the acquisition of new research skills by the student and/or may lead to a joint research project during that semester or in the future. This may include quantitative or qualitative research methods and/or a substantive area of research (i.e. a survey of a literature). It is required during each semester of the first two years of graduate study (A,B,C,D). SOC 599A and 599C are offered in the fall and SOC 599B and 599D are offered in the spring.

SOC 599B - Research Apprenticeship

The Research Apprenticeship involves faculty assignment to students that lead to the acquisition of new research skills by the student and/or may lead to a joint research project during that semester or in the future. This may include quantitative or qualitative research methods and/or a substantive area of research (i.e. a survey of a literature). It is required during each semester of the first two years of graduate study (A,B,C,D). SOC 599A and 599C are offered in the fall and SOC 599B and 599D are offered in the spring.

SPI 537 - Urban Inequality and Social Policy (also SOC 537)

A review of the historical emergence and social evolution of cities and urban life. Course presents current theories regarding the ecological and social structure of urban areas, and how urban social organization affects the behavior and well-being of human beings who live and work in cities.

SPI 565 - Social Determinants of Health (also POP 565/SOC 565)

Course examines how and why society can make us sick or healthy and how gender, race/ethnicity, wealth, education, occupation and other social statuses shape health outcomes. It looks at the role of social institutions, and environment-society interactions in shaping health outcomes and examines how these factors underlie some of the major causes of illness and death around the world including infant mortality, infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, and chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. The course draws on historical and cross-cultural material from the U.S. as well as global examples from different countries around the world.

SPI 590C - Sociological Studies of Inequality (Half-Term) (also SOC 571)

Sociologists often see social inequality as produced by one of three types of social processes: market exchanges, the non-market organization of social groups, and political institutions. Intellectual objectives of this unit are to (1) develop an understanding of the main features of a sociological analysis of inequality, and (2) introduce students to key empirical research agendas in the field of stratification and inequality.

SPI 593E - Topics in Policy Analysis (Half-Term) (also SOC 585)

These courses focus on the analysis of a variety of policy issues. Students can "mix and match" half term courses, either within or across semesters, choosing a combination of two that best suits their interests. Two half-term courses would be the equivalent of one full term course. Fall term courses are numbered 593; spring term courses are numbered 594. Courses with alternating letters beginning with "a" will be offered in the first half of the term, courses with alternating letters beginning with "b" will be offered in the second half of the term.