Graduate Program

The Sociology Department at UCSC is intellectually innovative, both in its interdisciplinary nature and in its commitment to inquiry that is engaged with the world beyond the university. The Ph.D. program leads to both academic and non-academic careers. 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 to design their course of study. The program leads to a Ph.D. in Sociology. The Sociology program at UCSC is a Ph.D. program, not an MA program. Students have the option of applying for a non-terminal Master’s degree en route to the Ph.D.


There are two parts to the core curriculum. The first part of the curriculum is a basic grounding in sociological theory and methods. Students are able to do more advanced work through independent study with particular faculty members who have similar research interests. Generally such studies follow preparatory course work with the faculty members. The second part of the curriculum is exposure to research in five areas of concentration. Students are not required to choose among the fivethree areas to the exclusion of the others as we recognize the overlap and important cross-fertilization of these themes. Most faculty research cuts across these thematics and faculty identify with multiple areas of interest. Moreover, a broader thematic concern with World-Building, Political Imaginaries, Alternative Futures weaves through each of these areas directing attention to processes and practices of social change and social reproduction, the making and unmaking of political collectivities, the affective dimensions of political life, and utopian/dystopian thought and practice. These areas are: (1) Political Economies and Political Ecologies, (2) Space, Place, and Mobility, (3) Culture, Knowledge, and Power (4) Publics, Policy, and Law, (5) World Building, Political Imaginaries, and Alternative Futures. In addition, students are trained in multiple methods in preparation for conducting their own research. View the course requirements via the UCSC Catalog.



Graduate students are funded through teaching assistantships, teaching fellowships, research fellowships, and other grants or fellowships. Many faculty in the Sociology Department have affiliations with other departments and programs on campus where students participate in research projects under the auspices of interdisciplinary research groups where they receive research grants that support graduate student research assistantships, which include the National Science Foundation and Science and Justice Fellowships. The graduate program consequently encourages interdisciplinary work. 

For detailed information on funding, refer to the Funding Opportunities page. Refer also to our list of affiliated working groups, research clusters, centers, and initiatives.


Graduate students in sociology may obtain a Designated Emphasis on their Ph.D. diploma indicating that they have specialized in a specific field in addition to Sociology. Designated Emphases are available in many departments, including Feminist Studies, Latin American and Latino Studies, Environmental Studies, Philosophy, or Education. Learn more about Designated Emphasis.


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 Department provides graduate students with various teaching opportunities in the form of teaching assistantships and teaching fellowships. Teaching assistants teach course sections, and students who have advanced to candidacy can apply to teach their own course as a teaching fellow. Graduate students are typically required to serve as teaching assistants for at least three quarters for the Sociology undergraduate program, with training provided by the department and by Graduate Division prior to the beginning of fall quarter. Students gain or hone their skills in articulating ideas, organizing and presenting materials in a logical sequence, listening attentively, and discerning student comprehension.


Contact the Graduate Coordinator at, or call (831) 459-3168.