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What are the Different Sociology PhD Programs?

G. Wiesen
G. Wiesen

In general, earning a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in sociology could focus on one of a number of different specializations or specific fields of study. It would be quite difficult to list all the different sociology PhD programs, since each school can often have different programs with names chosen by the school. However, there are some major areas that different schools may offer with individual names that generally correlate to each category. These include social demography, health and aging, social justice, and social psychology. While schools may offer sociology PhD programs with names different than these, they are likely to be fairly similar.

Sociology is the study of society, sometimes referred to as social science, through the analysis of empirical data and clinical research and studies on individuals. One of the most common sociology PhD programs is one that focuses on social demography, or the distribution of societies and people throughout the world. This type of program tends to study where people are born, move to, and die. It is typically recommended for someone who is curious about information like census data and how that can be used to better understand how people actually live their lives.

Some sociology PhD programs focus on social justice.
Some sociology PhD programs focus on social justice.

Common sociology PhD programs can also include those with a focus on health and aging. These can be somewhat interdisciplinary programs that include some medical research as well, and typically involve understanding how health and society are interrelated. This type of study will often appeal to someone interested in issues like health care and how these problems and topics affect society. Sociology PhD programs in aging are often tied to those focused on health, but tend to look at how a society views the aging process and treats population segments of different age ranges.

Many sociology graduate schools offer sociology PhD programs in social justice or stratification as well. While many areas of sociology often include an examination of power structures in a society, social justice typically focuses more strongly on that issue. Stratification is the study of those different layers of power in a society, and tends to consider who has power in a society and how that power is taken or maintained. Gender issues and financial concepts may also come into play in these sociology PhD programs and interdisciplinary work in those fields may be required.

Social psychology PhD programs are usually more closely focused on the individual in a society, and how he or she relates to the social world around him or her. These programs often include more clinical work with individual people through research and case studies. This information can then be extrapolated to relate to larger population segments and better understand how individuals make up a society.

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    • Some sociology PhD programs focus on social justice.
      By: Volodymyr Khodaryev
      Some sociology PhD programs focus on social justice.