Program Description

The Graduate Program in Sociology has two areas of focus:

Comparative International Sociology (CIS)
Sociology of Population and Health (SPH)

The Comparative International Sociology (CIS) Program is one core of the Sociology Department's doctoral program. This program focuses on the systematic analysis of the global processes and social structures underlying many of the most significant and vexing aspects of social change today. We examine the historical evolution of these global forces on nations, cities, communities, the environment, ethnic groups, organizations, demographic patterns, and families. Our goal is to provide students with both the theoretical background and methodological tools necessary to conduct rigorous empirical research in academic and policy related careers.

The CIS program emphasizes two central points. First, sociology is inherently comparative and second, sociological questions are most appropriately evaluated empirically. Within this general framework it is possible to study a wide range of sociological issues, such as national development, forms of inequality and stratification, environmental degradation, health and well being, organizations, urbanization, immigration, family, global elites, gender and ethnicity, and crime and delinquency.

Students enroll in a sequence of theory, methods and statistical analyses courses taught by the core faculty in the sociology department. Specialized seminars in CIS are offered by participating sociology faculty, and interdisciplinary courses taught by distinguished faculty in political science, geography, economics, history, business and statistics are offered as well. A strong emphasis is placed on active student participation in ongoing faculty research projects.

Examples of current faculty research topics in CIS include:

  • Transnational Corporate Networks
  • Political Economy of Global Environmental Change
  • Globalization, Corruption, and Violence
  • Foreign Investment, Inequality and National Development
  • Globalization, Stratification and Mobility
  • Environment, Public Health and Well Being
  • Globalization and World Cities
  • Military Expenditures and Society
  • Globalization and the Environment
  • Diversity of Civil Society
  • Wartime Displacement and Postwar Reconstruction
  • Community Mobilization and Political Participation
  • Immigration Trends and Policy
  • Welfare States and Gendered Labor Markets
  • Household Division of Labor in Comparative Perspective
  • Comparative Gender Stratification and Families

The Sociology of Population and Health (P&H) is on of the core areas of the Sociology Department's doctoral program.  The general focus is on describing characteristics of human populations and how population dynamics affect human health and well-being.  this unique area blends training in medical sociology, social epidemiology, gerontology, and demography.  Faculty mentors in this area are conducting research examining the demographic (e.g., gender, race/ethnicity, immigrant and legal status, marital status, and living arrangements,)behavioral (e.g., physical activity, smoking), and socio-environmental (e.g., neighborhood and family contexts) determinants of health, mortality, and well-being across the life course.  Other faculty projects are exploring population-related issues through the study of family, gender, race/ethnicity, crime and violence, and migration.  This research has covered settings in the United States, Asia, and Europe.  International comparative studies of population health outcomes (e.g., healthcare and mortality) are also conducted, providing a natural bridge between the P&H and CIS core areas of emphasis in the department.

A central goal of the P&H program area is to provide students with both the theoretical background and methodological competency necessary to conduct high quality, evidence-based research in academic and policy related careers.  To that end, the doctoral program provides extensive training for students in research methodology and statistical analysis, as well as courses in social theory.  Students choosing to specialize in P&H enroll in a sequence of courses taught by Sociology faculty that are specifically related to the study ofpopulations and health, including an introductory seminar on population measures and dynamics, a discussion-based seminar on contemporary population health issues, and a seminar on medical sociology which focuses heavily on the social determinants of health.  Additional seminars on migration, advanced demographic methods, family, gender, environment, and global health are other electives that students can choose to take.  Students choosing to specialize in P&H will take a qualifying exam at the ed of teir second year, based on the following reading list.

P&H students are encouraged to supplement their Sociology-based requirements with interdisciplinary collaboration and training that draw on the existing and diverse strengths found on the University of Utah campus-for example, students can become affiliated members in the Consortium for Families and Health and are welcome to attend research symposia hosted by groups within the School of Medicine, College of Health, or Huntsman Cancer Institute.  Past students have chosen to take elective coursework taught by distinguished faculty in other departments at the University of Utah such as Family and Consumer Studies, Geography, Family and Preventive Medicine, Psychology, Bioinformatics and Statistics, and Economics.  P&H students can also blend the requirements of the Sociology PhD with a graduate certificate in related interdisciplinary fields such as: Demography, Gerontology, Disability Studies, or Global Health.  These opportunities allow P&H students to individualize teir program of study, while still getting a strong sociological perspective to the study of population and health.

As with all doctoral programs, strong emphasis is placed on active student participation in ongoing faculty research projects.  Please consult the faculty directory to explore what current projects the sociology faculty members are working on

SAMPLE Population and Health Reading List 2014

Population and Health Faculty Members

Claudia Geist
Akiko Kamimura
Kim Korinek
Rebecca Utz
Ming Wen

Masters of Statistics in Sociology (MSTAT)

An interdisciplinary degree administered by the University Statistics Committee is also offered. The program is designed for those students whose interest lies in the development and application of statistical methods in sociological research. The course requirements for our MStat Sociology program are at You can find more general information at