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Administrative Unit:Sociology
College/School: College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, College of Letters & Science
Admitting Plans:M.S., Ph.D.
Degrees Offered:M.S., Ph.D.
Minors and Certificates:Ph.D. Minor

Faculty: Professors Montgomery (Sociology chair), Kleinman (Community and Environmental Sociology chair), Bell, Borman (affiliated), Collins, DeLamater, Elder, Emirbayer, Erlanger (director, Legal Studies), Ermakoff, Ferree, Ford (affiliated), Friedland (affiliated), Fujimura, Gamoran (director, WCER), Gerber, Gilbert, Green, Halaby, Kloppenburg, Logan, Maynard, Nordheim (affiliated), Oliver, Palloni, Raymo, Rogers (director, COWS), Sandefur (dean, L&S), Schaeffer (director, UWSC), Seidman, Stoecker, Thornton (affiliated), Tigges, Wright; Associate Professors Alatout, Carlson, Freeland (director, Graduate Studies), Goldberg, Goldrick-Rab (affiliated), Herd, Loveman, Schwartz, Shoemaker (affiliated); Assistant Professors, Conti, Curtis, Elwert, Goffman, Grant, Harrison, Herd, Lim, Liu, Macdonald, Nobles, Senier


The Department of Sociology and the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology conduct a combined graduate program designed to prepare students for scholarly research, teaching, or applied work. The program leads to the master of science degree with a major in sociology or community and environmental sociology, and the doctor of philosophy with a major in Sociology. All major areas of sociological inquiry are represented in the curriculum. The program consistently ranks at or near the top in studies of U.S. doctoral programs.

Distinguished faculty, outstanding students who learn from and support each other, an increasingly multi-ethnic student body, curriculum covering a broad spectrum of sociological interests, thriving research projects in many areas, and a stimulating campus environment make UW–Madison a good choice for students interested in sociology and/or community and environmental sociology.

Members of the departments also participate in a number of interdisciplinary programs. Faculty and students are involved with several research institutes, including the Center for Demography and Ecology, Center for Demography of Health and Aging, Center on Wisconsin Strategy, Institute for Research on Poverty, Institute on Aging, Wisconsin Center for Education Research, University of Wisconsin Survey Center, the Applied Population Laboratory, Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, and the Program on Agricultural Technology Systems. Further information about faculty and areas of study is available on the department websites: Sociology; Community and Environmental Sociology.

Degrees and Career Goals 

The graduate program of the Department of Sociology and the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology admits students who intend to obtain a Ph.D. Students complete a master's degree on the way to the Ph.D., or receive a waiver of the program's master's requirements based on a previous master's degree. A few students leave the program after obtaining a master's degree and pursue research or other jobs in the public and private sectors. A majority of our Ph.D. graduates obtain university teaching and/or research positions. Others take research and/or administrative positions in government or private firms.


The department guarantees five continuous years of funding to all incoming students starting in the fall. Sources of funding include teaching assistantships, research assistantships, traineeships, and fellowships. The department nominates a number of students with the most promising academic records for University Fellowships. In addition, some admitted students arrive with outside fellowships such as NSF or Fulbright awards. International applicants admitted to the program must complete a financial statement that shows sufficient funds to support themselves for their first year and the intent for funding to continue through the duration of study. Even though funding is guaranteed, international students must often provide additional financial support documentation, showing they can cover the gap between what the department provides and what the U.S. State Department requires.  Additional information about international student expenses can be found here.


The program receives a large number of applications from highly qualified individuals, requiring the admissions committee to be very selective. A cohort of around 10-15 students is ideal, in terms of providing quality training and making financial support available to a large proportion of students. Total graduate enrollment in the program is over 180 students. An undergraduate degree in sociology is not a prerequisite. The admissions committee looks for academic excellence as indicated by undergraduate GPA and Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores, a writing sample, and references, plus interest in and motivation for graduate study in sociology as indicated by the statement of purpose. Weaknesses in one indicator would need to be balanced by strong evidence of abilities in another indicator. To apply, submit an online application, all transcripts, recommendations, statement of reasons for graduate study, and writing sample. GRE scores (general test only) are required of all applicants and international applicants are additionally required to submit English Proficiency test scores—either TOEFL, MELAB, or IELTS.

For more information:Department of Sociology, 8128 William H. Sewell Social Sciences Building, 1180 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI 53706-1393; 608-262-2921; gradinfo@ssc.wisc.edu; www.ssc.wisc.edu/soc/.