The UCI Sociology Department is a vibrant and distinguished collection of faculty, students, and staff seeking to better understand society and social relations. We invite you to explore our website to learn about our exciting scholarly and educational endeavors. Please inquire about joining us!
While the Department was formally established in 1989 and admitted its first PhD students in 1999, its roots are entwined with the founding of the campus in 1965. UCI 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 of the social sciences, endured 25 years before sociology finally departmentalized. In the early days, March hired several 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).
Once formally established, UCI's Sociology faculty quickly grew in numbers and reputation. We now have 30 diverse and distinguished members, with outstanding publication 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; Gender & Family; 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, Social Movements & Political Sociology, 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 Irvine Sociology.
At the undergraduate level, we have as many as 700 students — one of the largest majors on campus — supported by celebrated and award-winning instructors. Beyond the general B.A., we offer four specialized certificates: in Business, Economy, & Organizations; Diversity & Inequality; Global & International Sociology; and Social Problems & Public Policy. All sociology majors participate in a capstone experience, and many of our best students enroll in the honors program and work with individual faculty members over the course of a year to write an original honors thesis.
Our graduate program has nearly 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 Ph.D. degrees, and many take tenure-track assistant professorships or post-doctoral fellowships. Some of our graduates also take instructor positions, and some move into non-profits, government agencies, and the private sector (for more information on the graduate program, see: https://www.sociology.uci.edu/grad/index.php)
It is no surprise that in its 2005 debut national ranking by U.S. News and World Report, Irvine 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