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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:Doctoral Minor

Faculty: Professors Oliver (chair, Sociology), Gilbert (chair, Community and Environmental Sociology), Bell, Borman (affiliated), Carlson, Collins, DeLamater, Emirbayer, Ermakoff, Ferree, Ford (affiliated), Friedland (affiliated), Fujimura, Gerber, Goldberg, Green, Halaby, Kleinman, Logan, Maynard, Montgomery, Nordheim (affiliated), Palloni, Piliavin, Raymo, Rogers (director, COWS), Sandefur, Schaeffer (director, UWSC), Seidman, Stoecker, Thornton (affiliated), Tigges, Wright; Associate Professors Alatout, Curtis, Elwert, Fletcher, Freeland (director, Graduate Studies), Goldrick-Rab (affiliated), Grodsky, Herd, Lim, Massoglia, Nobles, Schwartz, Shoemaker (affiliated); Assistant Professors Christens (affiliated), Conti, Engelman, Feinstein, Garoon, Goffman, Grant, Liu, Vargas, White.


The Department of Sociology and the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology conduct a combined graduate program in sociology 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 and the doctor of philosophy degree in sociology. It also offers a minor to students earning a doctoral degree in other departments. 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, a curriculum covering a broad spectrum of sociological interests, thriving research projects in many areas, and a stimulating campus environment make UW–Madison an excellent 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, the Center for Demography of Health and Aging, the Center on Wisconsin Strategy, the Institute for Research on Poverty, the Institute on Aging, the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, the University of Wisconsin Survey Center, the Applied Population Laboratory, the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies, the 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, and Community and Environmental Sociology.

Degrees and Career Goals

The sociology graduate program 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.  Some students leave the program after earning a master’s degree and pursue research or other jobs in the public and private sectors. A majority of Ph.D. graduates obtain university teaching and/or research positions. Others take research and/or administrative positions in government or private firms.


The departments guarantee five continuous years of funding to all incoming students.  Sources of funding include teaching assistantships, project assistantships, research assistantships, traineeships, and fellowships. In addition, some admitted students arrive with outside fellowships such as National Science Foundation or Fulbright awards. International applicants admitted to the program must complete a financial statement that provides evidence of sufficient funds to support themselves for their first year and the intent for support to continue throughout the duration of study. Even though departmental funding is guaranteed, international students must often provide additional financial support documentation, showing they can cover the gap between the amount the departments provide and the amount 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 extremely selective. There is a very strong preference for students planning to pursue a Ph.D.; students whose goal is a master’s are rarely accepted. A cohort of around 20 students is ideal, in terms of providing quality training and making financial support available to all admitted students. Total graduate enrollment in the program is more than 150 students. An undergraduate major 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. However, a weakness in one indicator can be balanced by evidence of strong abilities in the others. To apply, please submit an online application, all transcripts, recommendations, statement of reasons for graduate study, writing sample, and tests scores.  GRE scores (general test only) are required of all applicants; in addition, international applicants are 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; 608-262-2921608-262-2921; gradinfo@ssc.wisc.edu; ssc.wisc.edu/soc/grad/info-for-prospective-students.php