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What Sets Us Apart

Consistently rated among the top departments in the United States, the Department of Sociology at the University of Michigan has played a key role in defining the nature of the discipline. The department has been at the forefront of some of the most exciting developments within the field over the past 50 years. Historically, our program has been known for its pioneering research and training in survey research and quantitative methods. However, as nationally prominent scholars specializing in field research and comparative historical methods have joined the faculty, the Department now offers excellent, rigorous training in qualitative methods that complements its continued strength in quantitative research strategies.


We only admit students who we believe will thrive in our PhD program. Our program is not designed to ‘weed out’ students - we instead work to ensure that all students excel in our program. All students are admitted with a five-year funding package, technology grants and research funds awarded at both the pre-candidacy and candidacy levels, and a relocation grant. We strive for a culture of collaboration between our students and provide numerous opportunities for student connection.

The University of Michigan is an extremely resource-rich environment for graduate education. Students at Michigan Sociology are not in competition with each other for access to resources. Many of our students secure academic year fellowships and grants from the Rackham Graduate School, the Institute for Social Research, and many other institutions on campus. In the past 3 academic years, our students have received the following funding awards (among many others):

  • TWELVE students received the prestigious Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship
  • EIGHT students received a multi-year National Science Foundation Fellowship
  • SIX students received a Ford Foundation Fellowship
  • SIX students received an ASA Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant
  • THREE students received the competitive ISR Robert Kahn Fellowship


Michigan Sociology partners with numerous centers on campus and provides a vast array of opportunities for our students. This strong network allows students to connect with a diverse range of faculty, to apply for additional research positions and grants, and to conduct interdisciplinary scholarship, all while remaining grounded in the discipline of sociology. From research fellowships to methods training, the opportunities for Sociology graduate students are abundant.

Our distinguished faculty conduct research around the world, putting our department and our students on the forefront of global issues. The University's considerable investment in international studies extends the department's already broad global engagement. In fact, the University of Michigan’s International Institute provides a home for interdisciplinary research, programming, instruction, and student support in international and area studies, with particular regional foci on Africa, China, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, Japan, Korea, Middle East and North Africa, Russia and Eastern Europe, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.

The University has significant resources available to students who are interested in crafting unique interdisciplinary doctoral programs.

Graduate students in Sociology also benefit from access to the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research (ISR), its Population Studies Center, Survey Research Center, and the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR).  In addition to Sociology, ISR supports the research of more than 200 scientists from over 20 academic disciplines with an annual budget of more than $80 million. Researchers at ISR develop and test survey methodologies, conduct experimental studies, maintain and distribute the world's largest archive of social science data, and train and educate researchers and students from around the world in survey methodology and survey research. At the ISR’s Population Studies Center, faculty conduct research on such areas as fertility, mortality, migration, social inequality, the family, and the demography of race and research methodology.


Our program offers training in most major subfields of sociology, with a wide range of faculty specializing in each area. You can read about our major program areas here.

The department also prides itself in its multi-and interdisciplinary approach to sociological research. The program offers rigorous training in:

  • Interview and ethnographic methods
  • Quantitative methods
  • Comparative-historical methods, and
  • Mixed methods

Within our program, substantive and methodological diversity are both encouraged and supported. Our graduate program is flexible, acknowledging that paths through the program differ based on students’ backgrounds, methodologies, and career goals. Our program prepares graduates for both academic and non-academic positions, and faculty advisors work with students to help them navigate the program in a way that suits their needs.

The department offers an array of research workshops where students present their ongoing research to faculty and other students. Students in all stages of the program are welcome to attend. You can read more about our workshops here.