PhD in Sociology

With a Ph.D. in Sociology, you can become a professor or research sociologist and study how people and groups relate. Find out how to earn this degree and what you'll learn as a doctoral student. Schools offering Sociology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Do I Need a Master's Degree to Apply?

A Ph.D. in Sociology program builds on the coursework for a master's degree; however, some sociology graduate programs combine the master's degree and Ph.D. As an aspiring doctoral student, you have more programs open to you with a master's degree, but you can apply to some programs with only a bachelor's degree.

Prerequisites Master's degree is typically required, but some programs may accept a bachelor's degree
Common Courses Statistics, rules and ethics, sociology theory, interview techniques, demographic analysis
Program Duration Program takes anywhere from 4-8 years
Financial Aid Teaching assistantships can provide a stipend and cover tuition costs
Online Availability Fully online programs are not typically available
Average Salary (2014) $78,810*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Classes Do I Take for a Ph.D. in Sociology?

A sociology Ph.D. begins with a proseminar class to introduce new doctoral students to department faculty and academic sociology as a profession. In the first two years, you take theory courses and research classes in techniques like surveys, interviews, observation and demographic analysis. Statistics classes cover handling and crunching all that research data. You will probably also take a course from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) on rules and ethics for research with human subjects. Elective seminars focus your classroom learning on a subfield of sociology.

How Long does a Ph.D. in Sociology Take?

In total, expect to take 4-8 years to earn a Ph.D. in Sociology. After 2-3 years of classroom study, you spend about a year preparing a qualifying paper and taking exams to advance to doctoral candidacy. As a doctoral candidate, you research and write your dissertation for 1-2 years before defending it to a faculty panel in a public forum.

How Do I Pay for a Ph.D. in Sociology?

Many programs have teaching assistantships that pay tuition and provide a stipend for living expenses while you earn your doctorate. The department may arrange or facilitate funding. In fact, some sociology programs only accept Ph.D. students whose funding is already in order through the university or other grants.

Can I Earn a Ph.D. in Sociology Online?

Since sociology doctorates involve human research and are built around a lot of interaction with professors and academic colleagues, very few if any programs are available online. Directed readings may fulfill some elective requirements without regular campus attendance. While researching and writing your dissertation, you may not need to visit campus very often except to meet with your advisor or advisory committee.

What Can I Do with a Ph.D. in Sociology?

Graduates with a sociology doctorate usually either teach at a university or research social issues for government agencies or private organizations. Sociologists made an average of about $78,810 in 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Yale University

    Campus Locations:

    • Connecticut: New Haven
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    Campus Locations:

    • North Carolina: Chapel Hill
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    Campus Locations:

    • Illinois: Champaign
  • University of Illinois at Chicago

    Campus Locations:

    • Illinois: Chicago
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa

    Campus Locations:

    • Hawaii: Honolulu
  • University of Colorado Boulder

    Campus Locations:

    • Colorado: Boulder
  • University of Chicago

    Campus Locations:

    • Illinois: Chicago
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham

    Campus Locations:

    • Alabama: Birmingham
  • University of Akron Main Campus

    Campus Locations:

    • Ohio: Akron
  • University at Buffalo

    Campus Locations:

    • New York: Buffalo