PhD in Sociology: Program Information and Requirements

In a sociology doctoral degree program, students conduct extensive research and explore advanced sociological and political science concepts. These programs prepare graduates for positions in academia.

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Essential Information

Students in a sociology doctoral program are encouraged to find a particular interest within the field and spend significant time developing professional research within this area. Specializations may include social inequality, race and gender, political systems, and ethnography or urban sociology, among others. Some traditional coursework is part of the curriculum as well, providing a framework for advanced topics within sociology. Graduates of these programs, which typically last 3-7 years, can pursue advanced research and post-secondary teaching positions.

Prerequisites for these programs usually include a master's degree; official transcripts; GRE scores; a personal statement; and previous coursework in sociology, though this may vary by program. A dissertation is usually needed for doctoral students to graduate.

Ph.D. in Sociology

Sociology Ph.D. programs focus on a doctoral dissertation, which is the culmination of original research and analysis conducted by the student. In many programs, the dissertation represents a large portion of the academic credits needed to graduate. However, traditional courses are also offered to help students understand research-based sociological models and theories. Common courses include:

  • Advanced sociological research methods
  • Ethnographic approaches to studies
  • Sociological theory of race and gender
  • Urban sociology
  • Globalization and political science

Employment Outlook and Career Information

Sociologists with a Ph.D. have the greatest advancement and career opportunities, reported the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). A Ph.D. in sociology qualifies sociologists for advanced teaching positions and research opportunities with colleges, universities, sociological organizations and federal agencies (

Opportunities for sociologists were expected to decrease by 1% from 2014-2024. The mean annual salary for sociologists was $82,100 in 2015.

Sociology Ph.D programs can range from 3-7 years, usually allowing students to specialize in certain areas of the field depending on their interests. These programs can lead to careers in both teaching and research; however, job opportunities for sociologists are expected to slightly decline through 2024.

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