Program Description

The Graduate Program in Sociology has two areas of focus:

Global and Comparative Sociology (GCS)
Sociology of Population and Health (SPH)

The Global and Comparative Sociology (GCS) program area focuses on the empirical study of social structures and processes in comparative perspective.  In addition to comparative analyses of nation-states, faculty members in this area routinely study social, political, economic, and cultural phenomena at the sub-, trans-, and supra-national levels of analysis.  The GCS program trains students to conduct theoretically grounded, methodologically sound, and empirically rigorous research in both political sociology and political economy.  These interconnected subareas address fundamental questions pertaining to the distribution of power and resources within and among national societies.  Within these broad subareas, GCS faculty members conduct qualitative and quantitative research on a wide variety of topics such as stratification on the basis of gender, race, and class; health and well-being; global enviornmental change; economic development; globalization and cultural change; urbanization and world cities; collective action and social movements; international human rights; and the politics of class formation.  Current research topics among GCS faculty include:

  • Political economy of global environmental change
  • Diffusion and impact of human rights norms, treaties, and institutions
  • Democracy, culture, and economic development
  • Globalization and world cities
  • National identity, political economy, and material culture
  • Social stratification, family, and gender
  • Welfare states and gendered labor markets
  • Migration, labor, and collective action
  • Inequality, politics, and health

Many of these substantive foci overlap with the department's other core program area, the Sociology of Population and Health, giving interested students the opportunity to conduct research at the intersection of both content areas.

The GCS program area provides students with the theoretical, methodological, and substantive training necessary for conducting independent research.  Alongside required courses in social theory, research methods, and statistical analysis, GCS students enroll in discussion-based seminars focusing on political sociology and political economy.  Additional seminars introduce students to substantive literatures in the areas of sociology of gender, racial/ethnic relations, and the environment.  Students choosing to specialize in GCS will take a qualifying exam at the end of their second year in the program, based on reading lists in political sociology, political economy, and one of the program's three subsidiary areas.  Students will also have ample opportunities to collaborate directly with GCS faculty members on research projects.  These courses and experinces prepare students to conduct high-quality, evidence-based research in a range of academic and policy-related careers.

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 http://www.mstat.utah.edu/documents/sociologyinfoApril2012.pdf. You can find more general information at http://www.mstat.utah.edu/sociology.html.