Applied Sociology PhD Programs

Applied sociology utilizes scientific research theories and methods to promote community-based results at the research, academic, and non-profit levels. This article reviews common admission and coursework requirements.

Admissions Overview for a PhD in Applied Sociology Programs

  • Degree Requirement: There are two main pathways to earning a PhD in applied sociology. Some programs allow students to enter the program with a bachelor's degree and earn a master's within the first 2-3 years of their progress toward a PhD, while other programs require students to have already earned a master's from an accredited college or university.
  • GPA Requirement: Students entering PhD programs are generally required to meet the college or university's admission requirements along with any additional program specific requirements; a minimum GPA of 3.0 is a typical standard.
  • GRE Requirement: Competitive Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores are a common requirement for PhD program admission.
  • Additional Admission Requirements: Students applying for PhD programs should be prepared to provide writing samples, a curriculum vitae (CV), 2-3 letters of recommendation, statements of purpose, and TOEFL scores if their first language is not English.

Doctorate Level Coursework in Applied Sociology

Blending the science of research theory and methodology with real-life application in addressing and challenging the norms of society is the nature of curricula in the field of applied sociology. With between 34-72 credit hours required for PhD studies in this program, students will find a breadth of core and elective coursework to choose from.

Proseminar in Sociology

While students entering a program at the graduate level in sociology are likely already familiar with sociological studies, proseminars in sociology are a type of introduction into the professional field and scholastic coursework of sociology. Along with the philosophical history of sociology, the theoretical and methodological principles of sociology are presented anew. Setting the foundation for advanced studies in the analytical/research aspects of sociology, and the civil liberties/humanitarian aspects, are some general objectives of this seminar course.

Research and Analysis

Studying people is a part of sociology, and there are theories and methods involved in this process. Quasi-experimental and experimental design models may be utilized in research and data analysis coursework along with multivariant modeling in these classes. Methods of research design, the systems of program delivery, and their sociological impact are topics explored and analyzed.

Social Inequality/Social Stratification

Sociological research and theories on social inequalities are critically assessed within the framework of social stratification coursework. The concepts and realities of social inequality are explored. Students may also be tasked to consider and explore social inequalities and how they relate to and impact various institutions.

Sociological Theory

Sociological theory courses explore major works, their authors, and their influence on sociology. By looking back at past works, students also develop more of an understanding of period specific social issues and the context in which classical works were written. By examining these works, students are better able to recognize the influence of past research on current theory, as well as the implications of the methodologies and interpretations of research.

Survey Research

In this class the designs and theories of research are covered. The method of survey research design, and the analysis of the results are also introduced. Students may use sampling theory and applications, measurements, and data reduction strategies to explore surveys and possibly complete their own survey project.


While designed to help, social policy has consequences that may or may not be expected. Studies in social policy examine these consequences as well as how policies are created and enacted. Also, within the examination of social policy is a study on the research and analysis that lead to the implementation of social policies and how specific programs and communities are targeted.

Sociological Studies in Criminology

Criminal behavior has severe social implications and consequences. Since sociology focuses on the exploration and analysis of group behavior and the repercussions of that behavior within groups, organizations, and societies course offerings along the doctorate track may offer classes studying criminology and the sociological determinants of such behavior. These classes are designed to advance the student's understanding of the theories and analysis of criminal behavior and how these theories are applied. The study of juvenile delinquency and the sociology of adolescent behavior is one such subject that may be offered.

Studying applied sociology unites scientific inquiry and understanding with public and applied sociology to confront current issues in society within the realms of research, education, and policy. Doctoral degree programs in applied sociology have rigorous curricula focused on the methodologies of research design and analysis of data with the added intent of applying those scientific and humanities skills in community-based settings.