Graduate Program

The graduate program in sociology at UCSC distinguishes itself by its interdisciplinary nature. The program is designed to educate students in sociological theory and methods and in the discipline’s major substantive areas while simultaneously exposing students to other arenas of intellectual inquiry that will aid them as they pursue their research questions and interests. After completing a group of required courses, students work closely with individual faculty members in designing their own course of study. The program leads to a Ph.D. in Sociology. An M.A. degree may be taken en route to the doctorate, but a master's program per se is not available.

The core curriculum is divided into two parts, (1) basic grounding in sociological theory and methods, and (2) exposure to research in three areas of concentration: (a) globalization, political economy, and environment; (b) inequality and identity; and (c) culture, knowledge, and power. To prepare students to conduct their own research projects, the department trains students in multiple methods—comparative and historical analysis, quantitative techniques, field research, and interpretive methods.

The sociology graduate program is intended to lead to both academic and nonacademic careers, and the interests of the faculty reflect this twofold objective. Faculty specialties include comparative and historical sociology; construction of deviance; criminal justice; cultural sociology; development; economy and society; education; emotions/affect; environmental sociology; globalization; language and social linguistics; law and society; Marxist sociology; mass communication; medical sociology; policy analysis; political economy; qualitative methodology; race, class, gender, sexuality; science and technology studies; social inequality; social movements; sociology of drugs; sociology of knowledge; and visual sociology.

Graduate students are supported through teaching assistantships, teaching fellowships, research fellowships, and other grant/fellowship opportunities. A number of faculty receive research grants that support graduate student research assistantships, most recently, for example, the National Science Foundation Science and Justice Fellowships.

When asked what they most appreciate about the sociology graduate program, most students cite the students' and faculty's activism and commitment to social change in combination with their dedication to teaching, scholarly research, and understanding of the social forces of our society. The Sociology Department's colloquium series enhances scholarship, practice, and collegial networks. The diversity in age, ethnicity, and work experience of the student body creates a vibrant atmosphere for learning.

Many of the faculty in the Sociology Department have affiliations with other departments and programs on campus, and the graduate program consequently encourages interdisciplinary work. Seminars in the anthropology, environmental studies, history, history of consciousness, politics, psychology, and feminist studies programs are open to sociology students. Graduate students in sociology may obtain a parenthetical notation on the sociology Ph.D. diploma indicating that they have specialized in a specific field in addition to sociology such as feminist studies, Latin American and Latino studies, environmental studies, philosophy, or education. Students must meet requirements spelled out by the relevant department and their committee members. Students also participate in research projects under the auspices of seven interdisciplinary social science research centers: the Science and Justice Working Group; the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems; the Center for Global, International, and Regional Studies; the Chicano/Latino Research Center; the Center for Research on Educational Diversity and Excellence; and the Santa Cruz Center for International Economics. Research opportunities also are available in the areas of environmental studies, feminist studies, and lesbian/gay/queer studies.

Many of our graduate students present papers at professional conferences and publish articles during the course of their graduate studies. The sociology master’s paper is designed to prepare students to write for professional journals. Ongoing faculty seminars focusing on concrete research topics and problems are available for advanced graduate students working on papers and dissertations in related areas.

The sociology program provides graduate students with many teaching opportunities so that they can practice the skills required for good teaching—the ability to articulate ideas, to organize and present materials in logical sequence, and to listen attentively and discern someone else’s comprehension. Graduate students serve as teaching assistants for at least three quarters in the department's core classes of the undergraduate curriculum.

The Sociology Department at UCSC is intellectually innovative, both in its interdisciplinarity and in its commitment to inquiry that is engaged with the world beyond the university.