Medical Sociology Graduate Programs

Apr 18, 2019

Those who wish to study medical sociology can consider a Master of Arts in Sociology, a Master of Arts in Applied Sociology, or a Ph.D. in the field. In pursuing these degrees, they will take core sociological courses and electives focused on medical or health sociology.

Medical sociologists study the interrelationships between society and health care, illness, and medicine. For those who wish to pursue this career path, earning a graduate degree in sociology or applied sociology are options that can promote their knowledge and career options.

Degree Options

Master of Arts in Applied Sociology

One choice for those interested in earning a graduate degree in applied sociology is to earn a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Applied Sociology, focused upon medical sociology. Applied sociology programs may focus upon the practical application of sociological principles. Program requirements typically involve coursework and a capstone project, thesis, or exam. Applicants may be required to provide transcripts, writing sample, resume, statement of purpose, and recommendations.

Master of Arts in Sociology

Earning the MA in Sociology could be considered by those who wish to enter the field of medical sociology. The degree is usually focused on theory and research skills. Students may also have the opportunity to engage in a practicum or other extensive research project. Frequent application requirements include transcripts, recommendations, a statement of purpose, and a resume. Those who earn this degree frequently move into Ph.D. programs, though some do enter the workforce.

Doctor of Philosophy

Earning a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in medical sociology or with a concentration in health sociology are other options that may be particularly useful for those who wish to pursue careers in academia or research. Programs can often be completed in five years of full-time study. Those enrolled typically take core courses in sociological principles and then focus on medical sociology or health. In addition, students typically must complete comprehensive examinations and a dissertation. The development of teaching skills may also be a component of a Ph.D. program. Applicants should hold a bachelor's or master's degree and may be required to provide transcripts, GRE scores, a statement of career goals, letters of recommendation, and evidence of scholarship.

Medical Sociology Courses

Students pursuing a graduate degree in sociology will be required to take core courses in sociology, including courses in research methods and classical and contemporary sociology. Those who are interested particularly in medical sociology will then choose electives to hone their knowledge around these issues. Here, you can learn more about some medical sociology courses that graduate students might encounter.

Health Disparities

A major concern in medical sociology is the vastly different levels of health care that are provided between social groups. Students in this course may be introduced to socioeconomic and racial inequalities in health care as well as differences in health care in rural and urban areas. Federal and state policies designed to address such disparities could be presented.

Sociology of Dying

The experience of dying differs for those in a range of demographic groups. This course could provide students with a background in the cultural perspectives on dying. Various funeral experiences as well as social expectations for survivors might also be studied.


Sociologists must be familiar with population trends, including age and ethnicity. This course may introduce students to the theory and methods of modeling population trends. Medical sociology students could focus demographic study on clinical and epidemiological demographics.

Sociology of Mental Health

In addition to physical health, mental health concerns require sociological analysis. This course may introduce students to the demographic mental health concerns of a range of subpopulations, such as children and women. In addition, issues around the stigma surrounding mental health treatment and mental health policy could be considered.

Health and Social Policies

A course in policy may provide sociologists with the frameworks that are used to analyze a range of social policies. Specific topics may include access to health care, financing, and professional staffing concerns. Case studies may provide students with real-world examples of the effects of such policies.

Graduate students who are interested in medical sociology can consider earning a degree at the master's or doctoral level. A range of core and elective classes could help to build their knowledge of the discipline.

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