20 Best Ph.D.’s in Sociology

Sociology is a multifaceted, ever-changing, and ever-relevant discipline. While undergraduate programs provide students with a brief understanding of many subfields within sociology, those who are dedicated to thoroughly understanding certain areas of the discourse usually pursue their Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology.

Often, graduate programs not only allow but actively encourage students to take on ambitious and independent forms of research and personalized programs of study. Faculty members in Sociology departments not only have extensive academic training in sociology but often have their own areas of expertise stemming from years of professional work in the field. Students who pursue their Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology are guaranteed to benefit from and be constantly stimulated by the works of those in their cohort.

Many, if not all, doctoral programs in Sociology award students their master's degree after two-to-three years in the program. Often, students continue from their master's into the Doctor of Philosophy level of the program, which takes another couple of years.

It's important to recognize that many graduate programs will not admit students for terminal master's degrees, and therefore prospective students for Sociology graduate programs should be dedicated, driven, and ready for rigorous work, but work that will pay off. Earning a Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology ensures that one will have many exciting opportunities for innovation, research, and success post-graduation, whether it be returning to work in academia or going onto study as fellows in national and international organizations.

Selection Criteria

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Here are the 20 Best PhD's in Sociology!

20. Vanderbilt University – Nashville, TN

Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology

Website

Vanderbilt's Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology is designed to fulfill the pursuits of various interests in the field, offering students a flexible curriculum and close engagement with their cohort of only 30 peers and 21 faculty members. Research amongst those in the program, both students and faculty, include topics like deviant behavior, gender and sexuality, health and the life course, social movements, and more. Students are taught extensively in sociological theory, research methods, and other substantive areas. They'll learn how to work with theoretically-informed and empirically-grounded research so to have a foundation to begin their required research projects and articles.

Net Price: $23,295
Score: 82.36

19. Columbia University – New York City, NY

Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology

Website

The Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology program from Columbia University prepares students for careers as academic sociologists. Graduates are fully prepared to apply for grants, publish articles or books, and present their material in professional settings. The curriculum is focused on the importance of combining a holistic understanding of the discipline with its research methods and critical debates. The program is divided into three stages: after the second year, students are awarded an MA, after the third an M.Phil. degree, and then once completing the fourth year, students earn their Ph.D. The Doctor of Philosophy differs from the M.Phil. in that, it requires the completion of a dissertation.

Net Price: $22,824
Score: 83.17

18. Michigan State University – East Lansing, MI

Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology

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Michigan State University designed their program to prepare students for careers in academic and in the public and private sectors. While faculty in the department provides a diverse range of research and training, there are three strong, signature areas: Environment, Health and Medicine, and Migration. The curriculum trains students in theoretical, applied, and policy-relevant research, and offers certificates in many related fields such as Animal Studies or Women's Studies. The program proudly incorporates interdisciplinary courses to make sure all student interests are sufficiently represented in the curriculum. Students may apply from a variety of academic backgrounds, but of course, a prior education in Sociology is preferred.

Net Price: $16,684
Score: 84.34

17. The Ohio State University – Columbus, OH

Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology

Website

Ohio State University's Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology is divided into two parts: the MA level and then subsequent Ph.D. level. Students who are admitted without a prior graduate degree in Sociology will begin at the MA level, while students entering the program with their masters complete will begin at the Doctor of Philosophy level. The curriculum equips students with foundational knowledge, in theory, quantitative and qualitative methods of the field, and research design. Once these courses are complete students complete a Master's thesis and examination before progressing into the Ph.D. level. Ph.D. candidates will then complete six additional courses and a dissertation.

Net Price: $18,042
Score: 84.85

16. Northwestern University – Evanston, IL

Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology

Website

The Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology from Northwestern University allows students to create an individualized program of study and research. The first year is dedicated to theory and methods; the second to seminars, workshops, and independent research; the third is dedicated to a special field paper. Beyond the third year, students are working towards their dissertation through further research seminars and workshops. The program takes pride in encouraging the study of all aspects of the field: all areas of sociological inquiry can be pursued, thanks to the flexible curriculum. Almost all graduates from the program move into academic or research positions, including tenure-track assistant professorship.

Net Price: $26,099
Score: 85.17

15. Iowa State University – Iowa City, IA

Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology

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Iowa State University's Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology is dedicated to equipping students with the capacity for original and creative research, teaching them the skills necessary to enter the field with intellectual independence. There are three emphasis areas available, such as Agriculture & Development; Criminology & Criminal Justice; and Social & Economic Disparities. On average, the Ph.D. takes about five years to complete. One-hundred percent of graduates have entered the professional workforce, taking on positions in research, academic, and government and non-government organizations. Teaching and research assistantships are available to provide both financial aid experience teaching. Applicants must submit a GRE score, but not a GMAT. If they have not completed an MA prior to application, they will apply to the MA program.

Net Price: $13,949
Score: 86.77

14. The University of Arizona – Tucson, AZ

Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology

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The University of Arizona designed their Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology to prepare students for careers in research and teaching. While the curriculum is set up so that students earn both an MA and Ph.D., only students that are dedicated to earning the Doctor of Philosophy are typically admitted. The curriculum builds off of theories and methods of sociological inquiry to prepare students for their dissertation and research. Focus areas are also combined with these foundational courses to ensure that students can study their particular area of interest. These concentrations include culture, economic sociology, health and medicine, and political sociology.

Net Price: $15,758
Score: 86.97

13. Duke University – Durham, NC

Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology

Website

Duke University's Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology is a highly competitive and intensive program. Students benefit from a supportive research environment led by a diverse group of faculty. Recent graduates have recently gone into competitive and excellent jobs in academia, but the program's encompassing sociology curriculum prepares students for careers in other fields as well. While students earn a Master's degree en route to the Doctor of Philosophy, applicants are typically only admitted if they are dedicated to the Ph.D. The curriculum is made up of six core courses, two electives in methods, and seven electives. All students complete a preliminary exam, a first-year essay exam, and a dissertation.

Net Price: $22,011
Score: 88.51

12. Stony Brook University – Stony Brook, NY

Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology

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Stony Brook University's Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology proudly focuses on global sociological phenomena and their relation to national issues, leading the discipline to a way of thought that is more globally relevant. The curriculum prepares students with knowledge of inequalities, racism, gender studies, international development, and more. Faculty members are trained in a diverse number of subfields and are familiar with both quantitative and qualitative methods. Graduates from the program have gone onto competitive careers in elite universities. Because Stony Brook is in proximity to NYC, students may opt to take courses at NYU, CUNY, or Columbia. Many certificate options are available.

Net Price: $14,330
Score: 88.93

11. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – Champaign, IL

Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology

Website

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign designed their Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology program to prepare students for a variety of careers, including research in universities and research in public policy, government, and private industries. Faculty members have a variety of specializations, but the department is notably strong in the area of Inequalities and Global/Transnational Sociology. Most students admitted to the Ph.D. program receive full-tuition and stipend funding for at least five years, in the form of teaching or research assistantships and fellowships. Students take courses in methods, theory, and focus areas of their choice to fulfill electives. They then complete a dissertation and have the option of a teaching practicum.

Net Price: $16,638
Score: 89.34

10. Texas A&M University – College Station, TX

Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology

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The Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology from Texas A&M University prepares students with comprehensive knowledge in all aspects of the field, and extensive training in methods of research. Upon graduation, students are able to prove their capacity for independent inquiry and presentation through the dissertation. Students will also complete a final examination. Candidates may apply to enter at either the MA level or Ph.D. level if having earned their master's degree elsewhere. The curriculum is designed to take only five years of full-time study, encouraging students to work at a dedicated and rapid pace.

Net Price: $19,554
Score: 89.34

9. University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI

Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology

Website

University of Michigan's Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology is proudly housed within their consistently top-ranked Department of Sociology. The program is known for its innovative research and training in survey research and quantitative methods, but a diverse range of faculty also offers rigorous training in qualitative methods as well. Students may select a concentration area from seven options, including Culture and Knowledge; Power, History, and Social Change; and Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration. There are also many resources available to students who are interested in designing their own interdisciplinary program of study. Before achieving candidacy and beginning the dissertation, students take an examination and submit a publishable paper.

Net Price: $16,408
Score: 90.71

8. Rutgers University – New Brunswick, NJ

Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology

Website

Rutgers University designed their Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology to prepare students for higher education teaching, advanced research, or other applied careers. The program offers students to complete either an MA or MS degree en route to the Doctor of Philosophy and can be a terminal degree after the master's portion is completed, if needed. While the master's program does not require any original research, the Ph.D. portion of the graduate studies requires students to complete a significant research study to fulfill their dissertation requirement. The curriculum focuses on the basic theory of the field and its issues, research methods, and statistics.

Net Price: $16,016
Score: 91.01

7. University of Minnesota – Minneapolis, MN

Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology

Website

The Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology from the University of Minnesota does not allow students to earn a terminal master's degree, and will only admit students dedicated to the full doctorate program. The average cohort size each year is only ten students, all of whom are typically guaranteed funding for five years. The curriculum is made up of core courses in research methods, theory, and courses from an outside department that is relevant to the student's particular interests in the field. All students will complete preliminary and oral exams before submitting a final dissertation and dissertation defense. Readied research specialties are available, including Inequalities & Culture and Law, Crime, Punishment, & Human Rights.

Net Price: $16,808
Score: 91.38

6. University of Illinois at Chicago – Chicago, IL

Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology

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The Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology from the University of Illinois at Chicago has a curriculum divided into two parts: the MA level, whose courses makeup 37 credits, and then the Ph.D. level, which requires at least 60 more credits made up of coursework and a research-based dissertation. Coursework the first few years trains students in research methods and both contemporary and classical sociology theory. Once completing the MA courses, students completed a thesis or project that is presented prior to beginning the Doctor of Philosophy Courses at the Ph.D. level offer more specialized areas to prepare students for their dissertation and postgraduate ambitions, including Sociology of Childhood and Youth; Global and Transnational Sociology; and Political Sociology.

Net Price: $11,884
Score: 92.49

5. The University of Texas at Austin – Austin, TX

Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology

Website

The University of Texas at Austin's Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology program requires 42 credits in statistics and methods, theory, and a variety of electives. Students have the option of completing a Demography Specialization, which would use the 12 credits previously dedicated to electives to fulfill Demography Core and Electives. All students, both Demography Specialization and non-Demography Specialization, complete a dissertation. Those who are awarded teaching assistantships will also receive credit for teaching sociology courses. During each year in the program, students are expected to submit an article to a journal and present at professional meetings.

Net Price: $14,356
Score: 92.69

4. University of California – Berkeley – Berkeley, CA

Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology

Website

The Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology offered by the University of California – Berkeley prepares students for success post-graduation, whether it be funding for research, fellowships at national foundations, and competitive careers in teaching. Graduates have gone on to publish widely and promote growth and influence in the field. There are many opportunities for funding at UC Berkeley, including research jobs, fellowships, teaching assistantships, and more. All students complete a master's empirical research paper prior to beginning the Doctor of Philosophy level works of the program. Coursework at the masters and Ph.D. level cover methods, theory, and writing and professional development courses.

Net Price: $18,178
Score: 93.43

3. University of California-Los Angeles – Los Angeles, CA

Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology

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UCLA admits students to both an MA in Sociology and a Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology; the master's degree may be terminal if the student wishes. If not, after completion of MA-level courses in theory and research, students submit a master's paper and then move onto the doctoral studies. Major fields or subdiscipline focuses are available in Computational Sociology, Conversation Analysis, Economic Sociology, and more. All students complete a dissertation focusing on their original, independent research, as well as a final oral examination. The degree usually takes 18 quarters worth of study. Graduates have gone on to work as professors, as researchers or fellows in both private and public sectors, and more.

Net Price: $14,760
Score: 95.05

2. Harvard University – Cambridge, MA

Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology

Website

Harvard University's Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology trains students with a solid foundation in the fundamentals of sociology, preparing them to teach the discourse through both qualitative and quantitative research and methods. It is dedicated to the preparation for careers specifically in scholarly settings and applied research and teaching. The curriculum trains students in many subfields of sociology, as the faculty of the department have many concentrations of expertise. This may include urban sociology, criminology, comparative/historical sociology, and others. It is not often that the department awards terminal master's degrees to those en route to the Ph.D., but it is an option.

Net Price: $17,030
Score: 98.92

1. Stanford University – Stanford, CA

Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology

Website

Stanford University's Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology is a rigorous program dedicated to preparing students for successful professional careers in research, teaching, and more. The curriculum is dedicated to the highly analytical aspects of sociology, using quantitative and qualitative methods, survey, administrative, experimental, and other ways to encourage research in all subfields of the discipline. Students conduct ambitious and independent research projects before graduation, as well as examinations, courses in theory and methodology, and colloquium seminars. Teaching assistantships and research assistantships are available to provide funding.

Net Price: $16,562
Score: 100