493 College Street, 203.432.3323
M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D.

Grace Kao

Director of Graduate Studies
Philip Gorski

Professors Julia Adams, Jeffrey Alexander, Elijah Anderson, Scott Boorman, Nicholas Christakis, Ron Eyerman, Philip Gorski, Grace Kao, Philip Smith

Associate Professors Rene Almeling, Emily Erikson, Jonathan Wyrtzen

Assistant Professors Lloyd Grieger, Alka Menon

Fields of Study

Fields include comparative sociology/macrosociology; cultural and historical sociology; economic sociology; life course/social stratification; mathematical sociology; medical sociology; methodology (qualitative and quantitative approaches); networks; political sociology; race/gender/ethnic/minority relations; social change; social demography; social movements; theory (general, critical, hermeneutic); urban sociology.

Special Requirements for the Ph.D. Degree

Qualification for admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. will take place during the student’s first three years of study at Yale. A student who has not been admitted to candidacy will not be permitted to register for the seventh term of study. To qualify for candidacy the student must take twelve seminars to be completed in years one and two, four required courses (SOCY 542, SOCY 578, SOCY 580, SOCY 581), and eight electives, including at least one workshop. After completion of courses, students prepare a research paper and one field exam and defend a dissertation prospectus.

Teaching is an important part of the professional preparation of graduate students in Sociology. Students teach therefore in the third and fourth years of study.

Combined Ph.D. Degree in Sociology and African American Studies

The Department of Sociology offers, in conjunction with the Department of African American Studies, a combined Ph.D. degree in Sociology and African American Studies.

Students accepted to the combined Ph.D. program must meet all of the requirements of the Ph.D. in Sociology with the exception that, excluding the courses required, a research paper, and a field exam, combined-degree students may substitute African American Studies courses for six of the twelve term courses required to qualify for the Ph.D. in Sociology. For further details see African American Studies.

Master’s Degrees

M.Phil. See Degree Requirements under Policies and Regulations.

M.A. (en route to the Ph.D.) Eight term courses are required for the M.A. degree. Two of these courses must include statistics and theory. A grade of High Pass or Honors must be achieved in five of the eight required courses. A student may petition for the M.A. degree in the term following the one in which the student completes the course requirements.

Program materials are available at


SOCY 506a / MGMT 734a, Designing Social ResearchBalazs Kovacs

This is a course in the design of social research. The goal of research design is “to ensure that the evidence obtained enables us to answer the initial [research] question as unambiguously as possible” (de Vaus 2001: 9). A good research design presupposes a well-specified (and hopefully interesting) research question. This question can be stimulated by a theoretical puzzle, an empirical mystery, or a policy problem. With the research question in hand, the next step is to develop a strategy for gathering the empirical evidence that will allow you to answer the question “as unambiguously as possible.”
Th 1:30pm-4:30pm

SOCY 508b / PLSC 505b, Qualitative Field ResearchDaniel Mattingly

In this seminar we discuss and practice qualitative field research methods. The course covers the basic techniques for collecting, interpreting, and analyzing ethnographic data, with an emphasis on the core ethnographic techniques of participant observation and in-depth interviewing. All participants carry out a local research project. Open to undergraduates with permission of the instructor.

SOCY 512a, Sociology of IslamJonathan Wyrtzen

Social scientific studies of Islam; introduction to sociology of religion and its application to Islam; the utility of "Islam" and "Muslim" as analytical categories; debates about definitions of Islam and religion in anthropology and religious studies; comparative sociological studies both within Islam and contrasting Islam with other religions.
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

SOCY 542a, Sociological TheoryEmily Erikson

The course seeks to give students the conceptual tools for a constructive engagement with sociological theory and theorizing. We trace the genealogies of dominant theoretical approaches and explore the ways in which theorists contend with these approaches when confronting the central questions of both modernity and the discipline.
T 3:30pm-5:20pm

SOCY 560a or b / PLSC 734a or b, Comparative Research WorkshopJulia Adams

This weekly workshop is dedicated to group discussion of work-in-progress by visiting scholars, Yale graduate students, and in-house faculty from Sociology and affiliated disciplines. Papers are distributed a week ahead of time and also posted on the website of the Center for Comparative Research ( Students who take the course for a letter grade are expected to present a paper-in-progress the term that they are enrolled for credit.

SOCY 576b, Civil Sphere and DemocracyJeffrey Alexander

In dialogue with normative and empirical approaches to civil society (Habermas, Putnam), this course introduces “civil sphere theory,” starting from Alexander’s The Civil Sphere (2006) and its critics. The sacred and profane binaries that animate the civil sphere are examined, as are such civil sphere organizations as polls, mass media, electoral systems, law and office. We read works about U.S. presidential elections, immigration and its controversies, the civil rights movements, the crisis of contemporary journalism, and recent controversies over church pedophilia, the financial system, and telephone hacking. We consider the challenge of deprovincializing civil sphere theory, looking at civil spheres in Latin America and East Asia. Regarding the possibility of a cosmopolitan or global civil society, we examine the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.
W 1:30pm-3:20pm

SOCY 580a, Introduction to Methods in Quantitative SociologyRonald Kwon

Introduction to methods in quantitative sociological research. Covers data description; graphical approaches; elementary probability theory; bivariate and multivariate linear regression; regression diagnostics. Includes hands-on data analysis using Stata.
W 1:30pm-3:20pm

SOCY 581b, Intermediate Methods in Quantitative SociologyRonald Kwon

Second part of a two-term introduction to statistical analysis for quantitative social science research. Covers review of linear regression; introduction to models for categorical and count data, the analysis of time data, and longitudinal data; overview of missing data and weighting; and discussion of data that are complicated by issues of nonrandom design. Prerequisite: SOCY 580.
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

SOCY 584b / AFAM 584b, Inequality, Race, and the CityElijah Anderson

Urban inequality in America. The racial iconography of the city is explored and represented, and the dominant cultural narrative of civic pluralism is considered. Topics of concern include urban poverty, race relations, ethnicity, class, privilege, education, social networks, social deviance, and crime.
M 11:30am-1:20pm

SOCY 595a or b, Stratification and Inequality WorkshopStaff

In this workshop we present and discuss ongoing empirical research work, primarily but not exclusively quantitative analyses. In addition, we address theoretical and methodological issues in the areas of the life course (education, training, labor markets, aging, as well as family demography), social inequality (class structures, stratification, and social mobility), and related topics.

SOCY 598a and SOCY 599b, Independent StudyPhilip Gorski

By arrangement with faculty. When students register for the course online, the dropdown menu should be completed.

SOCY 602b, Poverty and Social Welfare Policy in the United StatesLloyd Grieger

Who is poor in America? How has the social safety net evolved over time in the United States? Who is “deserving” of federal assistance? In this course we examine the formation and effectiveness of anti-poverty policies in the United States from a sociological and public policy perspective. Topics include the origins of the modern social safety net, the role of the federal government in constructing and implementing anti-poverty policy, the realities of low-wage work, and the “culture of poverty.” Employment- and family-based policy strategies for alleviating poverty are considered. Applied understanding of quantitative social science research methods is helpful, but not required.

SOCY 620b, Material Culture and the Iconic ConsciousnessJeffrey Alexander

How and why do contemporary societies continue to symbolize sacred and profane meanings, investing these meanings with materiality and shaping them aesthetically? Initially exploring such “iconic consciousness” in theoretical terms (philosophy, sociology, semiotics), the course then takes up a series of compelling empirical studies about food and bodies, nature, fashion, celebrities, popular culture, art, architecture, branding, and politics.
M 3:30pm-5:20pm

SOCY 625a, Analysis of Social StructureScott Boorman

Emphasizing analytically integrated viewpoints, the course develops a variety of major contemporary approaches to the study of social structure and social organization. Building in part on research viewpoints articulated by Kenneth J. Arrow in The Limits of Organization (1974), by János Kornai in an address at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences published in 1984, and by Harrison C. White in Identity and Control (2nd ed., 2008), four major species of social organization are identified as focal: (1) social networks, (2) competitive markets, (3) hierarchies/bureaucracy, and (4) collective choice/legislation. This lecture course uses mathematical and computational models—and comparisons of their scientific styles and contributions—as analytical vehicles in coordinated development of the four species.
M 9:25am-11:15am

SOCY 628a or b, Workshop in Cultural SociologyJeffrey Alexander

This workshop is designed to be a continuous part of the graduate curriculum. Meeting weekly throughout both the fall and spring terms, it constitutes an ongoing, informal seminar to explore areas of mutual interest among students and faculty, both visiting and permanent. The core concern of the workshop is social meaning and its forms and processes of institutionalization. Meaning is approached as both structure and performance, drawing not only on the burgeoning area of cultural sociology but on the humanities, philosophy, and other social sciences. Discussions range widely among methodological, theoretical, empirical, and normative issues. Sessions alternate between presentations by students of their own work and by visitors. Contents of the workshop vary from term to term, and from year to year. Enrollment is open to auditors who fully participate and for credit to students who submit written work.

SOCY 629b, Politics of ReproductionRene Almeling

Reproduction as a process that is simultaneously biological and social, involving male and female bodies, family formation, and powerful social institutions such as medicine, law, and the marketplace. Sociological research on reproductive topics such as pregnancy, birth, abortion, contraception, infertility, reproductive technology, and aging. Core sociological concepts used to examine how the politics of reproduction are shaped by the intersecting inequalities of gender, race, class, and sexuality.
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm

SOCY 630a / AFAM 773a, Workshop in Urban EthnographyElijah Anderson

The ethnographic interpretation of urban life and culture. Conceptual and methodological issues are discussed. Ongoing projects of participants are presented in a workshop format, thus providing participants with critical feedback as well as the opportunity to learn from and contribute to ethnographic work in progress. Selected ethnographic works are read and assessed.
M 11:30am-1:20pm

SOCY 647b, Social ProcessesScott Boorman

Focus is on identifying and exploring robust alternatives/complements to the rational choice models that have come to dominate so much of the analysis of social (including organizational) processes in recent years. Specifically, emphasis is placed on a range of mathematical models and related analytic approaches originating outside of the rational choice literature—in fields such as social network analysis, evolutionary biology, organization theory, and the law. Possible starting points include the Boorman-Levitt network matching model and its applications to nonprofits and complex statutes; weak ties models of job information transmission and other information transfer in elite social networks; and “garbage can” models of the internal problem-solving dynamics of complex organizations.
M 9:25am-11:15am

SOCY 656a, Professional SeminarPhilip Gorski

This required seminar aims at introducing incoming sociology graduate students to the department and the profession. Yale Sociology faculty members are invited to discuss their research. There are minimum requirements, such as writing a book review. No grades are given; students should take for Audit. Held biweekly.
W 6pm-7:30pm