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Sociology Graduate Programs in California

Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degree programs in sociology in the state of California are usually research-based and range in graduation requirements. Learn about these requirements and admission standards for several programs.

Sociology is a broad field and master's and doctoral programs in sociology in California allow students to focus their studies in a variety of areas. These programs offer unique hands-on learning experiences through research, teaching and more. Get details for the sociology graduate programs from a handful of California institutions.

Schools in California with Graduate Programs in Sociology

California State University-Northridge

California State University-Northridge offers a Master of Arts (MA) in Sociology that can be completed in 2 years. Students in the program can specialize in a range of areas, including social movements, immigration, culture, gender, sexuality, globalization and criminology. Students must complete a thesis project and may have the opportunity to publish a research paper and/or present at professional conferences. The program also offers students the opportunity to work as Instructional Student Assistants and gain teaching experience.

University of California-Davis

The University of California-Davis has a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Sociology degree program that allows students to earn an MA along the way. Students in the doctoral program must first complete 44 units of coursework for the MA, followed by additional seminars and courses for the doctoral program. Students are required to undergo a portfolio review after the end of their first year and must complete a research paper that is article length. The program offers diverse specializations, such as family and kinship, social psychology, demography and ecology, political sociology and social stratification, as well as designated emphasis areas, like African American and African Studies or critical theory.

University of Southern California

The University of Southern California in Los Angeles provides a PhD in Sociology that requires at least 60 units. The program also requires an empirical paper and dissertation and allows students to earn their MA after completing qualifying exams. Students can choose from a wide range of specializations, like health and medicine, race and ethnicity, urban sociology, social theory and science and technology. Some of the core courses for the program include a teaching practicum, a writing course and research methods courses.

San Diego State University

San Diego State University in San Diego has a 2-year MA in Sociology program. Students in the program can choose from a thesis option or final comprehensive exam option. Students also participate in a community-based research practicum for real, hands-on experience, as well as various research and/or teaching opportunities. The program includes courses in methods and theories and provides seminars in various focus areas, such as education, race, media and culture, demography and sexualities and gender.

Stanford University

Stanford University in Stanford offers a PhD in Sociology, joint Juris Doctor (JD)/PhD program and a terminal MA in Sociology for students currently enrolled in the university (no external applicants). For example, current Stanford PhD, law or medical students may pursue the 45-unit MA program that does not require a thesis. The traditional PhD program requires qualifying exams, a 3rd year paper and a dissertation, as well as teaching and research responsibilities. The JD/PhD program requires at least 183 quarter units, students must complete requirements for both degrees and typically students start their 1st year in one program and their 2nd year in the other program.

Common Entrance Requirements

Students applying to graduate programs in sociology in the state of California need to have a bachelor's degree and current GRE scores. A few programs may also require that applicants have a minimum GPA, usually around a 3.0. Applicants will need to submit the appropriate application(s) along with their transcripts, letters of recommendation, statement of purpose and a writing sample. Some programs may ask for additional information, such as a personal history statement, and/or require students to fill out additional applications for funding, like a fellowship application.

California students can typically find MA and PhD in Sociology programs that provide an array of specialization areas. These programs typically include research and/or teaching opportunities, and may culminate in some kind of final paper or exam.


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