PhD Program

Graduate School Bulletin: Sociology

The UWM Department of Sociology established its PhD program in 2011, and the program’s first graduate completed the degree in 2015. Our department is a diverse community of deeply engaged faculty and graduate students, and our PhD program is designed to promote students’ academic and professional growth. The PhD is the highest degree conferred by the university, and is distinguished by its emphasis on creative scholarship representing original research. The program prepares students for research and teaching careers in colleges and universities, as well as research and policy positions in a wide variety of applied settings.

The core course sequence for PhD students provides a strong foundation in sociological theory, research, and analysis, while elective courses and faculty mentoring help develop students’ expertise in their chosen areas of sociological interest. Doctoral students pursue specialization within one of two broad focal areas—Social Inequalities (including race/ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class) and Social Institutions (including politics, education, family, crime, work, organizations, health, science, and culture.) The Department works with students to develop advanced skills in both research and teaching.

Graduate students in the UWM Department of Sociology come from a wide variety of backgrounds. We welcome applications from prospective students with a Master’s degree in sociology, as well as those with degrees in other fields who have developed a passionate interest in sociology. We also permit BA holders to directly apply to our PhD program; if such an application seems more appropriate for the MA program, we will move it to the MA applicant pool without requiring the student to pay an additional application fee. Please visit the Graduate School’s Future Students webpage to learn about graduate study at UWM and life in Milwaukee.

PhD program requirements include 60 graduate credits beyond the bachelor’s degree, with 36 credits at the doctoral level. Along with coursework, students complete preliminary examinations in two sociological subspecialty areas, and a dissertation consisting of original sociological research. Please see our degree requirements webpage. Full-time students who enter with an MA in sociology are expected to be able to complete the program in four years.

If you would like to talk with someone about the PhD Program, please feel free to contact the Sociology Director of Graduate Studies, Prof. John Roberts at, 414/229-6944.