The graduate program offers broad training in sociology, with several areas of concentrated expertise: education; family, life course, and sexualities; global inequality and change; immigration; population; organizations, occupations, and labor; social inequality: race/ethnicity, gender, and class/stratification; social movements and political sociology; social networks; organizations, occupations, and labor; and the study of democracy. We are committed to theoretically informed and empirically grounded scholarship. We welcome multidisciplinary pursuits, forging links with other units on the campus and beyond. We also embrace a broad range of methods – including ethnography, experiments, formal modeling, historical-comparative analysis, and surveys – to pursue answers to questions of substantive and theoretical importance. The program offers both MA and PhD degrees, although the latter is emphasized.
Leading sociologists have worked at the University of California, Irvine, from its founding in 1965, but the doctoral program in sociology only began in 1998. Since that time, the department’s rise and expansion have been extraordinary. In 2010, an external review team concluded: “The recent history of the Department of Sociology at U.C. Irvine is a success story unparalleled at the national level. From its inception, the department has made remarkable strides in quality through a hiring strategy that included a handful of senior ‘stars’ in key areas and then aggressive recruitment at the associate and particularly the assistant professor level.”
The faculty now consists of 32 full-time members, including nationally and internationally recognized innovators in both qualitative and quantitative methods, as well as influential scholars in core areas of the discipline. Faculty members publish broadly in scholarly and public outlets. Many hold leadership positions in disciplinary associations and editorships of professional journals (including Social Networks, Social Problems, Contemporary Sociology, and currently the International Journal of Comparative Sociology). Many also compete for national research funding, organize national and international conferences, and engage in community activism.
Resources for graduate students extend well beyond the department. UCI’s nationally-recognized program in Criminology, Law, and Society offers opportunities for study in these areas, and members of the department have close ties with the Institute for Mathematical Behavioral Sciences; the Center for the Study of Democracy; Center for Organizational Research; the Center in Global Peace and Conflict Studies; the Center in Demographic and Social Analysis; the Center in Law, Society, and Culture; and the Center for Immigration, Population, and Public Policy. All provide interested students with additional research communities and opportunities. Students have taken courses with faculty in these programs and from faculty with related interests in other social science fields, including anthropology and political science.
By design and disposition, our faculty is committed to working collaboratively with graduate students. Our graduate program is constructed to help students move from being consumers of research to being producers of important, and published, work. In addition to numerous opportunities for collaboration with faculty members, students must, by the end of their second year, produce independent research targeted for journal publication. Students who take advantage of these opportunities have good success in finding professional employment. Recent graduates have accepted tenure-track positions at both small colleges and major research universities, including University of California-Los Angeles, Tulane University, the University of Washington, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and the University of California-Riverside. Current graduate students have won external research funding and published a wide array of journal articles and book chapters. Given the department’s ongoing growth and enhanced national visibility, we are confident our students will continue to do well on the job market.
The University of California-Irvine provides an extraordinarily supportive environment for the department’s continued development. Located midway between San Diego and Los Angeles, adjacent to Newport Beach, Irvine offers a Mediterranean climate, easy access to mountains and the beach, and a central location in rapidly changing Orange County. The campus also benefits from the resources of the entire University of California system, including a world-class library and numerous internal research centers. The University of California has designated Irvine as a growth campus, and resources have followed accordingly. UCI has grown not only in size but also in quality; for several years, US News and World Report has ranked UCI about the tenth best public university in the United States.
Because the School of Social Sciences enrolls more undergraduates than any other school, and because sociology is a popular undergraduate major, there are ample teaching assistant positions available, allowing graduate students in sociology to support themselves through graduate school. The department also offers research assistant positions and scholarships for particularly well-qualified students.
We are particularly interested in attracting highly qualified students whose interests dovetail with the strengths of the faculty. Admissions decisions are based on the applicant’s academic performance in college, GRE scores, letters of reference, and the candidate’s own statement of purpose and submitted academic work. In keeping with the department’s long-standing commitment to diversity, we encourage applications from ethnic minority and economically disadvantaged students. In recent years, the department has been able to guarantee funding to all admitted students for five years of study.