The UCI Department of Sociology comprises a vibrant and distinguished collection of faculty, lecturers, students, and staff working together to better understand society. We invite you to explore our website to learn more about our exciting scholarly and educational endeavors. Please inquire about joining us!
The department’s roots are entwined with the founding of the UCI campus in 1965. Social Sciences' founding Dean James G. March (1965-1970), himself a seminal figure in the sociological study of organizations, sought to build a faculty with "substantial disrespect for traditional disciplinary identifications" (see "Making, Breaking and Following Rules: The Irvine Case" by D. Kavanagh in Research in the Sociology of Organizations). His department-less experiment, which encompassed all the social sciences, endured 25 years. In those early days, UCI hired several important sociologists, including luminaries Harvey Sacks and David Sudnow (trailblazers of ethnomethodology) and later Linton Freeman (a pioneer in social networks analyst) and Francesca Cancian (an early feminist sociologist).
Once formally established as a department in 1989 and especially after admitting its first PhD students in 1999, the sociology faculty grew quickly in numbers and reputation. We now have 29 diverse and distinguished members, with outstanding scholarly profiles, substantial grant support, and a bounty of professional honors, awards, and leadership positions. Our research, teaching, and service demonstrate our prevailing commitment to inclusive excellence and focus on fundamental sociological questions across 10 vibrant research clusters: Culture; Economy, Inequality, Labor, & Organizations; Education; Family, Gender & Sexuality; Global Inequality & Change; Immigration; Political Sociology & Social Movements; Population; Race & Ethnicity; and Social Networks. All of the clusters are engaged in cutting-edge work and several enjoy world renown, including those devoted to Immigration, Political Sociology & Social Movements, and Social Networks. In pursuit of scholarly discovery, we conduct research that is theoretically informed and empirically based, and we respect a range of methodologies, including comparative-historical, demographic, network, statistical, and ethnographic. Our foci range from the individual and community to the national and global.
Our program nurtures critical intellectual thinking and emphasizes basic research skills. A respectful, engaging, and cooperative climate makes the department a welcoming place to study and work and enables us collectively to focus on our central objectives of learning and inquiry. Intellectual rigor, excellence, diversity, and collegiality are the hallmarks of UCI Sociology.
At the undergraduate level, the department grants about 300 BAs every year, with the support of celebrated and award-winning instructors. Many undergraduates also earn one or more certificates – in Business, Economy, & Organizations; Diversity & Inequality; Global & International Sociology; and/or Social Problems & Public Policy. All sociology majors participate in a capstone experience, and a handful of the best students work with faculty mentors to conduct original research and write honors theses. Most undergraduate majors study at the main campus in Irvine. As of 2022-23, however, the department also offers a sociology BA at the Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego County. We are proud to be the first prison BA program in UC history (https://lifted.uci.edu).
At the master’s level, the department offers an MA in Demographic and Social Analysis (https://www.demography.uci.edu). This one-year program offers about a dozen students graduate training in the practical research skills needed to analyze practical challenges confronting society, business, government, and the nonprofit sector.
Our PhD program has about 100 students and combines close mentoring with faculty-student collaboration to offer students opportunities to develop their own research agendas and work on team projects. In an average year, about 10 students complete their PhD degrees. Many take tenure-track assistant professorships or post-doctoral fellowships; some take instructor positions; and some move into non-profits, government agencies, and the private sector (for more on the graduate program, see: 2)
It is no surprise that in its 2005 debut national ranking by U.S. News and World Report, UCI Sociology ranked 27th out of 115 sociology doctoral programs and 15th among departments at public universities. Today, the department has climbed higher still. In the most recent U.S. News ranking in 2021, Irvine Sociology ranks 20th overall out of 117. UCI Sociology is still young and growing. We invite you to be part of our process. For more information, please consult the other sections of our website and don't hesitate to contact us directly.
David John Frank
Professor and Chair