Graduate Program in Sociology

Graduate Program in Sociology

The Berkeley Sociology Graduate Program is the heart of our collective enterprise. Berkeley welcomes a wide diversity of students with far-ranging research interests and equips them with the sociological training, resources, and supportive community necessary to succeed in academia and beyond. Students who come here find a graduate program that has been carefully designed to offer them a rich and complete sociological education, while simultaneously allowing space and incentives to explore and develop their original ideas. 

Factors distinguishing our graduate program from others nationwide include: 1) our rigorous training in general social theory, 2) our emphasis on public sociology and social justice, and 3) our embeddedness in a vibrant interdisciplinary community. Our emphasis on social theory is demonstrated by our required graduate theory sequence, elective theory courses, qualifying examination in theory, and teaching opportunities within Berkeley’s undergraduate theory sequence. As a department, we also maintain an abiding focus on public sociology and offer a number of fellowships, grants, and awards for students pursuing research that advances social justice. Finally, beyond the department, many students and faculty engage with university-wide institutes and clusters including the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, the Institute of Governmental Studies, the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, the Latin America research cluster, and many others.

Students admitted to Berkeley sociology receive a competitive funding package which includes six years of full support (including tuition and a living stipend) through a combination of fellowships and teaching, with many opportunities to secure funding past year six. Additionally, students are mentored in the skills needed to secure nationally competitive fellowships. In the past dozen years, Berkeley graduate students were awarded nearly one-quarter of the National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowships in Sociology (53 of 226), almost double that of any other program. In addition, our students support their research with fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the Fulbright Graduate Student Program, and more.  They also receive funding for their dissertation research from the National Science Foundation, the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, the Charlotte Newcombe Foundation, the American-Scandinavian Foundation, the German Marshall Fund, and the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.


Graduate Students


Berkeley graduate students receive mentorship to publish widely and influence the field. In the 24 years that the American Sociological Association has awarded an annual prize for the best dissertation in sociology, Berkeley graduate students have won a quarter of the time (6), far more than any other department. The “News” section of this site details some recent graduate student publications. Following completion of their Ph.D.s, Berkeley graduate students frequently end up publishing their dissertations as books. For example, the students who finished from 2000 through 2007 currently have 34 books published or in press.

Training in our department has prepared many of our graduates to obtain research and teaching positions in research-oriented universities; recent graduates currently hold faculty positions at Harvard, Michigan, Stanford, Chicago, Northwestern, UCLA, Columbia, Cornell, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCSF, UCSC, Syracuse, USC, Arizona, Washington, Illinois Urbana-Champaign, MIT, Georgetown, Boston U, SUNY Albany, UMass Amherst, William and Mary, Tufts and Oregon. Other students have taken jobs at more teaching-oriented schools, such as the Cal State campuses, Oberlin, Wellesley, Barnard, Boston College, Wesleyan and Sarah Lawrence.  Outside the US, students have taken jobs at McGill (Montreal), University College (Dublin), Universidad Carlos III (Madrid) and Tsinghua (Beijing).  A smaller but significant number have pursued careers in research institutes, business, government, and nonprofits.