Your complete guide to a PhD in Sociology

Everything you need to know about studying a PhD in Sociology

part of Social Sciences

What is Sociology?

Sociology studies human societies, examining the structures, patterns, and relationships that shape them. Sociology plays a crucial role in helping us comprehend the complex and interconnected social world we live in. It contributes to our understanding of social problems, informs policy decisions, and offers insights into how individuals and societies can address various challenges and create more equitable and just societies. In essence, it's a quest to understand the fabric of social relationships, from intimate family units to large-scale institutions.

Sociology Specialisations

Diverse and ever-evolving, Sociology offers a variety of areas to specialise in:

  • Social Theory: Analysing the fundamental principles underpinning social phenomena.
  • Social Stratification: Exploring the hierarchies and inequalities in societies.
  • Medical Sociology: Understanding societal facets of health, illness, and healthcare.
  • Urban Sociology: Delving into city life and its social complexities.
  • Criminology: Examining the social origins and impacts of criminal behaviour.

For those eyeing a Master's in Sociology, you'll find an opportunity to delve deeper into these and many other intricate facets of human societies. Interestingly, the most common specialisation in Sociology is Criminology, reflecting the profound interest in societal norms and their transgressions.

What will you learn during a Sociology programme?

Enrolling in a Sociology degree equips students with a comprehensive understanding of:

  • The evolution of societies and social behaviours.
  • Social structures, hierarchies, and inequalities.
  • The role of institutions, from family to government, in shaping behaviours.
  • Methods to conduct social research and analyse data.

Popular courses you might take during your studies include:

  • Sociological Theory: Grounding you in the foundational ideas of the field.
  • Social Research Methods: Introducing techniques for studying human societies.
  • Social Change and Development: Analysing how societies evolve and transform over time.
  • Gender and Society: Exploring the societal constructs and implications of gender.
  • Race and Ethnic Relations: Delving into the social aspects of racial and ethnic identities.

Sociology gives a unique lens to perceive and evaluate the world. The skills you can get from Sociology courses are multifaceted and find relevance in fields like social work, public policy, education, healthcare, criminal justice, and community development.

Skills required for a degree in Sociology

Critical thinking, empathy, and strong communication skills are paramount for budding sociologists. Analytical capabilities, especially for data interpretation, are vital too. Meeting Sociology degree requirements often entails demonstrating an aptitude for understanding human behaviours and social patterns.

What can you do with a Sociology degree?

A degree in Sociology opens the door to many career opportunities:

  • Social Researcher: Delving deep into social phenomena to extract meaningful insights.
  • Community Development Worker: Aiming for societal betterment at the grassroots level.
  • Policy Analyst: Crafting policies based on sociological insights.
  • Human Resources Specialist: Leveraging sociological knowledge to enhance workplace environments.
  • Youth Worker: Directly impacting young lives, using the lens of sociology.

When pondering the jobs you can get with a Sociology degree, it becomes clear that you have the tools to impact society profoundly.

Read more

View all PhDs in Sociology. Keep in mind you can also study an online PhDs in Sociology.

Interesting programmes for you

Best Universities for Sociology on PhDPortal

Universities Location Shanghai Jiao Tong University Ranking (2017) TopUniversities Ranking (2018)
Harvard University Cambridge, United States 1 1
Stanford University Stanford, United States 2 5
University of Michigan Ann Arbor, United States 3 13
University of California, Berkeley Berkeley, United States 4 2
Columbia University New York City, United States 5 12
University of Wisconsin Madison Madison, United States 6 6
New York University New York City, United States 7 15
Pennsylvania State University State College, United States 8 101
Princeton University Princeton, United States 9 10
University of California, Irvine (UCI) Irvine, United States 10 -
Cornell University Ithaca, United States 11 20
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, United States 12 23
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Los Angeles, United States 13 11
The Ohio State University Upper Arlington, United States 14 101
University of Oxford Oxford, United Kingdom 15 3
Indiana University Bloomington Bloomington, United States 16 51
University of Texas at Austin Austin, United States 17 43
University of Washington Seattle, United States 18 51
University of Chicago Chicago, United States 19 7
Duke University Durham, United States 20 34
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, United States 21 51
Yale University New Haven, United States 22 8
University of Minnesota Twin Cities Minneapolis, United States 23 -
Northwestern University Evanston, United States 24 51
University of Toronto Pickering, Canada 25 17
University of Southern California Los Angeles, United States 26 151
University of Maryland College Park, United States 27 51
University of Massachusetts Amherst Amherst, United States 28 151
Arizona State University Tempe, United States 29 101
University of Amsterdam Amsterdam, Netherlands 30 14
London School of Economics and Political Science London, United Kingdom 31 4
Michigan State University East Lansing, United States 32 101
Utrecht University Utrecht, Netherlands 33 51
University of Notre Dame South Bend, United States 34 51
University of California, Santa Barbara Santa Barbara, United States 35 101
Purdue University West Lafayette, United States 36 251
The University of Iowa Iowa City, United States 36 251
The University of Manchester Manchester, United Kingdom 38 21
McGill University Montréal, Canada 39 35
Stockholm University Stockholm, Sweden 39 49
Brown University Providence, United States 41 40
University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada 42 40
University of Cambridge Cambridge, United Kingdom 43 8
Washington State University Pullman, United States 44 251
University of Connecticut Storrs, United States 45 -
Emory University Atlanta, United States 46 201
University at Albany Albany, United States 47 151
University of Utah Salt Lake City, United States 48 -
The University of Edinburgh Edinburgh, United Kingdom 49 19
University of Groningen Groningen, Netherlands 50 51
Aarhus University Aarhus, Denmark 51 -
Boston University Boston, United States 51 51
Cardiff University Cardiff, United Kingdom 51 101
Dartmouth College Hanover, United States 51 -
Florida State University Tallahassee, United States 51 151
HSE University Moscow, Russia 51 51
Tel Aviv University Tel Aviv Yaffo, Israel 51 151
University of Georgia Athens, United States 51 -
University of Queensland Saint Lucia, Australia 51 37
UCL London, United Kingdom 51 -
The University of Arizona Tucson, United States 51 -
University of Bristol Bristol, United Kingdom 51 51
University of California, Davis Davis, United States 51 151
University of Colorado at Boulder Boulder, United States 51 151
University of Copenhagen Copenhagen, Denmark 51 42
University of Helsinki Helsinki, Finland 51 51
University of Illinois at Chicago Chicago, United States 51 -
University of Kentucky Lexington, United States 51 -
University of Oregon Eugene, United States 51 251
University of Oslo Oslo, Norway 51 51
University of Southampton Southampton, United Kingdom 51 201
University of Virginia Charlottesville, United States 51 201
University of Warwick Coventry, United Kingdom 51 44
University of York York, United Kingdom 51 101
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Amsterdam, Netherlands 51 101
Bar Ilan University Ramat Gan, Israel 76 -
Bielefeld University Bielefeld, Germany 76 51
Brigham Young University Provo, United States 76 -
City, University of London London, United Kingdom 76 251
Durham University Durham, United Kingdom 76 51
Erasmus University Rotterdam Rotterdam, Netherlands 76 151
King's College London London, United Kingdom 76 -
KU Leuven Brussels, Belgium 76 51
Monash University Clayton, Australia 76 30
National University of Singapore Singapore, Singapore 76 15
Newcastle University Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom 76 151
Rice University Houston, United States 76 -
Temple University Philadelphia, United States 76 -
The Chinese University of Hong Kong Shatin, Hong Kong (SAR) 76 33
Melbourne Business School Melbourne, Australia 76 28
University of New South Wales Sydney, Australia 76 51
University of Sheffield Sheffield, United Kingdom 76 101
University of California, Riverside Riverside, United States 76 -
University of Haifa Haifa, Israel 76 -
University of Leeds Leeds, United Kingdom 76 51
University of Mannheim Mannheim, Germany 76 51
University of Missouri - Columbia Columbia, United States 76 -
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Lincoln, United States 76 -
University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, United States 76 201
University of Sydney Sydney, Australia 76 23
Australian National University Canberra, Australia - 18
The University of Tokyo Tokyo, Japan - 22
Freie Universität Berlin Berlin Steglitz, Germany - 25
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Cambridge, United States - 25
Peking University Beijing, China - 27
Humboldt University Berlin Berlin, Germany - 28
The University of Hong Kong Hong Kong, Hong Kong (SAR) - 31
Seoul National University Anyang, South Korea - 32
National Autonomous University of Mexico Coyoacán, Mexico - 36
Goldsmiths, University of London London, United Kingdom - 37
University of Essex Colchester, United Kingdom - 37
Sciences Po Paris, France - 44
Lancaster University Lancaster, United Kingdom - 46
Pontifical Catholic University of Chile Villa Presidente Frei, Ñuñoa, Santiago, Chile, Chile - 47
University of Buenos Aires Buenos Aires, Argentina - 47
University of Auckland Auckland, New Zealand - 50
City University of Hong Kong Kowloon, Hong Kong (SAR) - 101
Deakin University  Burwood, Australia - 101
Fudan University Shanghai, China - 101
University of Göttingen Göttingen, Germany - 101
Georgetown University Washington, D. C., United States - 101
Ghent University Ledeberg, Belgium - 101
Institute for European Studies - Universite libre de Bruxelles Brussels, Belgium - 101
McMaster University Hamilton, Canada - 101
Nanyang Technological University Singapore, Singapore - 101
The Open University UK Undergraduate Programmes Milton Keynes, United Kingdom - 101
Osaka University Osaka-shi, Japan - 101
Queen's University Kingston, Canada - 101
Queensland University of Technology Brisbane, Australia - 101
Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands - 101
Sapienza University of Rome Roma, Italy - 101
Sungkyunkwan University Seoul, South Korea - 101
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem Jerusalem, Israel - 101
The University of Western Australia Perth, Australia - 101
Tohoku University Sendai-shi, Japan - 101
Complutense University of Madrid Madrid, Spain - 101
UCLouvain Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium - 101
University College Dublin Dublin, Ireland - 101
University of Adelaide Adelaide, Australia - 101
University of Alberta Edmonton, Canada - 101
University of Barcelona Barcelona, Spain - 101
University of Bath Bath, United Kingdom - 101
University of Bremen Bremen, Germany - 101
University of Canterbury Christchurch, New Zealand - 101
University of Cape Town Cape Town, South Africa - 101
University of Cologne Köln, Germany - 101
University of Florence Florence, Italy - 101
University of Glasgow Glasgow, United Kingdom - 101
Heidelberg University Heidelberg, Germany - 101
University of Kent Canterbury, United Kingdom - 101
University of Konstanz Konstanz, Germany - 101
University of Lausanne Lausanne, Switzerland - 101
University of Minnesota Minneapolis, United States - 101
University of Trento Trento, Italy - 101
Victoria University of Wellington Wellington, New Zealand - 101
York University Toronto, Canada - 101
Aalborg University Aalborg, Denmark - 151
Birkbeck, University of London London, United Kingdom - 151
Carleton University Ottawa, Canada - 151
Copenhagen Business School (CBS) Copenhagen, Denmark - 151
Ecole normale supérieure (ENS) Paris, France - 151
Federal University of Minas Gerais Belo Horizonte, Brazil - 151
Flinders University Adelaide, Australia - 151
Griffith University Nathan, Australia - 151
Hanyang University Seoul, South Korea - 151
Keio University Minato, Japan - 151
Linköping University Linköping, Sweden - 151
Lomonosov Moscow State University (MSU) Moscow, Russia - 151
Macquarie University Sydney, Australia - 151
Rutgers University New Brunswick, United States - 151
Saint-Petersburg University Saint Petersburg, Russia - 151
SOAS University of London London, United Kingdom - 151
The New School New York City, United States - 151
University of Waikato Hamilton, New Zealand - 151
University Sains Malaysia George Town, Malaysia - 151
University of Brasil Brasília, Brazil - 151
University of California, San Francisco San Francisco, United States - 151
University of Geneva Genève, Switzerland - 151
University of Hamburg Hamburg, Germany - 151
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign Urbana, United States - 151
University of Leicester Leicester, United Kingdom - 151
University of Malaya Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - 151
University of Nottingham Nottingham, United Kingdom - 151
University of Otago Dunedin, New Zealand - 151
University of Ottawa Ottawa, Canada - 151
University of Santiago de Chile Cartagena, Chile - 151
University of South Australia Adelaide, Australia - 151
University of Surrey Guildford, United Kingdom - 151
University of the Andes Bogotá, Colombia - 151
University of Warsaw Warsaw, Poland - 151
University of Waterloo Waterloo, Canada - 151
University of Western Ontario London, Canada - 151
University of Zurich Zürich, Switzerland - 151
Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) Brussels, Belgium - 151
Autonomous University of Madrid Alcobendas, Spain - 201
Beijing Normal University Beijing, China - 201
Boston College Newton, United States - 201
Chung-Ang University Seoul, South Korea - 201
Dalhousie University Halifax, Canada - 201
Diego Portales University Santiago, Chile - 201
École Normale Supérieure de Lyon Lyon, France - 201
Ewha Womans University Seoul, South Korea - 201
Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul Porto Alegre, Brazil - 201
Friedrich Schiller University Jena Jena, Germany - 201
George Washington University Washington, D. C., United States - 201
Keele University Keele, United Kingdom - 201
Loughborough University Loughborough, United Kingdom - 201
Massey University Palmerston North, New Zealand - 201
Nagoya University Nagoya, Japan - 201
University of Galway Galway, Ireland - 201
University of Paris Paris, France - 201
Pompeu Fabra University Barcelona, Spain - 201
Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 201
Renmin University of China Beijing, China - 201
Simon Fraser University Burnaby, Canada - 201
Tallinn University Tallinn, Estonia - 201
Texas A&M University College Station, United States - 201
The University of Exeter Exeter, United Kingdom - 201
Tilburg University Tilburg, Netherlands - 201
Metropolitan Autonomous University Tlalpan, Mexico - 201
National University of Colombia Bogotá, Colombia - 201
University Kebangsaan Malaysia Semenyih, Malaysia - 201
University of Antwerp Antwerpen, Belgium - 201
University of Bergen Bergen, Norway - 201
University of Bern Bern, Switzerland - 201
University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, United States - 201
University of East Anglia Norwich, United Kingdom - 201
University of Lisbon Lisbon, Portugal - 201
University of Milano - Bicocca Sesto San Giovanni, Italy - 201
University of Padua Padua, Italy - 201
University of Quebec Québec, Canada - 201
University of Tasmania Hobart, Australia - 201
University of the Philippines Diliman Bagong Pagasa, Philippines - 201
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg Johannesburg, South Africa - 201
University of Turin Turin, Italy - 201
University of Tsukuba Naka, Japan - 201
University of Twente (UT) Enschede, Netherlands - 201
University of Wollongong Wollongong, Australia - 201
University Paris Nanterre Nanterre, France - 201
Vanderbilt University Nashville, United States - 201
American University Washington DC Washington, D. C., United States - 251
Universidad Carlos III de Madrid Madrid, Spain - 251
Charles University Prague, Czech Republic - 251
Fundação Getulio Vargas Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 251
Iowa State University Ames, United States - 251
Jagiellonian University Kraków, Poland - 251
University of Graz Graz, Austria - 251
Karolinska Institute Stockholm, Sweden - 251
Kingston University London Borough of Sutton, United Kingdom - 251
Kobe University Kobe, Japan - 251
Kyung Hee University Seoul, South Korea - 251
Laval University Québec, Canada - 251
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine London, United Kingdom - 251
Mahidol University Sam Phran, Thailand - 251
Murdoch University Murdoch, Australia - 251
National Chengchi University Taipei, Taiwan - 251
National University of Córdoba Córdoba, Argentina - 251
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) Trondheim, Norway - 251
Pontificia Universidad Javeriana Jamundí, Colombia - 251
Sogang University Seoul, South Korea - 251
Technical University of Munich München, Germany - 251
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University Hong Kong, Hong Kong (SAR) - 251
The University of New Mexico Albuquerque, United States - 251
Tor Vergata University of Rome Roma, Italy - 251
Trinity College Dublin Dublin, Ireland - 251
Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore Milano, Italy - 251
University College Cork Cork, Ireland - 251
University of Aberdeen Aberdeen, United Kingdom - 251
University of Basel Basel, Switzerland - 251
University of Calgary Calgary, Canada - 251
University of California, Santa Cruz Santa Cruz, United States - 251
University of Florida Gainesville, United States - 251
University of Freiburg Freiburg, Germany - 251
University of Jyväskylä Jyväskylä, Finland - 251
University of Limerick Limerick, Ireland - 251
University of Liverpool Liverpool, United Kingdom - 251
University of Porto Porto, Portugal - 251
University of Pretoria Pretoria, South Africa - 251
University of Tampere Tampere, Finland - 251
University of Tübingen Tübingen, Germany - 251
University of Turku Turku, Finland - 251
University Putra Malaysia Kampong Baharu Balakong, Malaysia - 251
Autonomous University of Barcelona Barcelona, Spain - 51
Bologna Business School Bologna, Italy - 51
Central European University (CEU) Vienna, Austria - 51
European University Institute Florence, Italy - 51
Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, United States - 51
Korea University Seoul, South Korea - 51
Kyoto University Kyoto, Japan - 51
La Trobe University Melbourne, Australia - 51
Leiden University Leiden, Netherlands - 51
Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) Munich München, Germany - 51
Lund University Lund, Sweden - 51
National Taiwan University Taipei, Taiwan - 51
The City University of New York New York City, United States - 51
Tsinghua University Beijing, China - 51
UNICAMP - University of Campinas Campinas, Brazil - 51
Université Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV) Paris, France - 51
Frankfurt University of Applied Science Frankfurt am Main, Germany - 51
University of Birmingham Birmingham, United Kingdom - 51
University of California, Irvine Extension Irvine, United States - 51
University of California, San Diego San Diego, United States - 51
University of Chile Lo Prado, Chile - 51
University of Gothenburg Göteborg, Sweden - 51
University of Montreal Montréal, Canada - 51
University of Newcastle Newcastle, Australia - 51
University of Sao Paulo São Paulo, Brazil - 51
University of Sussex Brighton, United Kingdom - 51
University of Vienna Vienna, Austria - 51
Uppsala University Uppsala, Sweden - 51
Waseda University Shinjuku, Japan - 51
Western Sydney University Paramatta, Australia - 51
Yonsei University Seoul, South Korea - 51
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