Sociology (PhD)

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Degree Offered: PhD
Program Leadership:
Kristen Harknett, PhD, Program Director
Admissions Inquiries:
Brandee Woleslagle Blank, Academic Program Manager

Program Description

The Sociology PhD program at UCSF offers an exceptionally deep curriculum focused on the sociology of health, illness, biomedicine, and health care systems. The program is one of the most highly ranked graduate programs in sociology nationwide: the National Research Council in 2010 ranked the UCSF program 6th-20th out of a field of 118 sociology doctoral programs. The program features extensive training in both general sociological theory and the sociology of health, illness, and medicine; it also provides rigorous methodological training in both quantitative and qualitative research methods, including hands-on learning through the conduct of original research. Commitments to social justice and reducing health inequalities pervade the curriculum and the research of faculty and students.


Faculty for the Sociology program include five core Sociology faculty as well as 36 Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) faculty members, including emerita and adjunct professors.

The Sociology Program is part of a network of social science communities at UCSF, including the Institute for Health & Aging, the Center for Health and Community, and the Social and Population Sciences Research Consortium. The program also has key relationships with such Bay Area intellectual communities as the Science & Justice Research Center (at UC Santa Cruz), and the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine & Society (at UC Berkeley).


  • Race, class, gender and health
  • Social policy and health policy
  • Social determinants of health, including community and individual exposures to violence, incarceration, and work conditions

Additionally, faculty have expertise in aging, science and technology studies, mental health, and health disparities.

The Sociology program office is located at the Mission Bay campus. Visit the program website for more information.

The Sociology program is offered by the UCSF Graduate Division, administered by the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) in the UCSF School of Nursing, and delivered by faculty members in the UCSF School of Nursing.

Admission Requirements

Post baccalaureate students with backgrounds in the social sciences, in certain humanities such as history or philosophy, and in the health professions such as public health, nursing, psychology, or social work.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Students will develop a broad understanding of and capacity to apply sociological theories to empirical questions and disciplinary debates.
  2. Students will develop in-depth understanding and knowledge of the sociological dimensions of health, illness, medicine, health care, and health policy.
  3. Students will demonstrate understanding of and ability to use qualitative and quantitative research methods, at a basic level in either qualitative or quantitative methods and at a more advanced level in the other.
  4. Students will demonstrate the capacity to conduct independent and original research, in an ethical and responsible manner.
  5. Students will develop the oral and written communication skills to convey sociological arguments and the findings of research to a variety of audiences.

Additional Information

Program Faculty

Career Outcomes