Top Sociology Graduate Schools

Review some of the key characteristics of graduate schools with strong programs in sociology. Read about three schools with nationally ranked sociology graduate programs, find out what areas of specialization are offered in each degree level and explore a list of other nationally ranked schools. Schools offering Sociology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Should I Look for in a Top Sociology Graduate School?

If you haven't chosen a specialty, you'll probably benefit from an environment where you can explore your options with distinguished faculty having diverse interests. If you have chosen a specialty - which may include culture, social inequality or historical sociology - make sure your program of interest is strong in that area.

Most top sociology programs encourage completion of the Ph.D., focusing on preparing students for research or academic careers. Since you're preparing for a research-based career, you should look for centers or facilities that provide extensive research support. Strong faculty connections to the field are also be helpful.

What Are Three Top Sociology Graduate Schools?

Northwestern University in Chicago, IL

Northwestern University was ranked 14th for social sciences, based on the Academic Ranking of World Universities in 2015 ( Its sociology department is tenth-ranked, according to U.S. News & World Report's 2013 analysis ( Faculty and student awards include appointments to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Guggenheim fellowship and National Science Foundation dissertation improvement grants.

The 25 Ph.D. students admitted annually earn a master's degree en route to the Ph.D. You'll be trained in comparative historical analysis, field and quantitative methodologies, cultural analysis and ethnography. Quantitative research is supported by the Institute for Policy Research and its Center for Improving Methods for Quantitative Policy Research. You'll choose from among concentrations in law, economy and organizations, culture, social inequality and comparative-historical sociology.

Participation in interdisciplinary clusters, such as comparative and historical social science, is encouraged. Joint degrees and certificate programs are also available. Graduate degrees include:

  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)/Master of Arts (M.A.) in Sociology
  • Ph.D. in Management and Organizations and Sociology
  • Juris Doctor (J.D.)/Ph.D. in Sociology

University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, NC

University of North Carolina's sociology department tied with Harvard and the University of Chicago for sixth place in U.S. News & World Report rankings of 2013. Sociology faculty and graduates include seven past presidents of the American Sociological Association. The school's international research journal Social Forces has been published since the 1930s.

All students complete core courses in social theory and research techniques. Your research will be assisted by the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences and its Louis Harris Data Archive as well as the interdisciplinary Carolina Population Center. You can participate in working groups on qualitative research, applied statistics, social theory and cross-cultural studies. Students interested in the business world will benefit from business research opportunities through the Kenan Institute for the Study of Private Enterprise. Graduate degrees include:

  • Ph.D. in Sociology

University of Wisconsin in Madison, WI

The University of Wisconsin (UW) was ranked 33rd for social science in the Academic Ranking of World Universities for 2015 ( Its graduate sociology program was tied for first place with Princeton and University of California (Berkeley) according to U.S. News & World Report in 2013.

The Departments of Sociology and Community and Environmental Sociology work together to train graduate students. Some centers facilitating research include those for demography and ecology, the demography of healthy aging, politics, culture and society, and an institute for poverty research.

With over 70 full-time sociology faculty and nearly 20 community and environmental sociology faculty members, you'll have broad options for specialization. Since 1993, faculty and students have published over 30 books. UW-Madison sociology dissertations have been published by academic presses like Cambridge, Cornell and the University of Chicago. Graduate degrees include:

  • Master of Science (M.S.) in Sociology
  • Ph.D. in Sociology

Top Graduate Schools For Sociology Majors

College/University Institution TypeLocation
Princeton University 4-year, Private Princeton, NJ
University of Michigan--Ann Arbor 4-year, Public Ann Arbor, MI
University of California--Berkeley 4-year, Public Berkeley, CA
Harvard University4-year, Private Cambridge, MA
Stanford University 4-year, Private Stanford, CA
University of Pennsylvania 4-year, Private Philadelphia, PA
University of Chicago 4-year, Private Chicago, IL
Indiana University--Bloomington4-year, Public Bloomington, IN
University of California--Los Angeles 4-year, Public Los Angeles, CA
Columbia University 4-year, Private New York, NY

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:

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