Graduate study in Sociology at Boston University includes both Master’s and Ph.D. programs. Building on core knowledge in Social Theory and in Research Methods, students specialize in various fields within Sociology, pursuing original research that contributes to the field and laying a foundation for careers in research, teaching, and applied sociology.
The interests of our students reach from Boston around the world. Recent dissertations and current work have explored such topics as the cultural significance of Fenway Park; the post-war coping practices of Cambodian widows; the effects of race and class on women’s experience of domestic violence; networks and attainment among Latinas in Boston’s public housing units; the social determinants of technological innovations at research and development laboratories; well-being among American and Soviet-born Jewish elders; the role of evangelicalism in the changing economic and political situations of El Salvador and South Africa; altruism in Argentina; and AIDS among youth in Malawi.
The program emphasizes core knowledge and theory as well as rigor and innovation in research. The research and teaching interests of the faculty facilitate diverse research agendas for students.
Strengths of the Department
GLOBAL AND COMPARATIVE SOCIOLOGY
Our research and teaching in this area is organized around the premises that social relations and processes often flow across rather than just within or between nation-states and that social forms, social systems, and organizations are fruitfully understood by comparing them across time or space. Professors Benjamin, Eckstein, Go, Guseva, Harris, Olafsdottir, Kalberg, Kibria and Stone teach and do research on these questions.
CULTURE AND SOCIAL LIFE
The Department has cultivated a long-standing teaching and research interest in the ways social life is created, sustained, and made meaningful through language, values, meanings, beliefs, rules, and theories that are both constitutive of and reflective of social life. Professors Ammerman, Coulter, Mears, Swartz, Go, and Kalberg contribute to this work.
ORGANIZATIONS, NETWORKS, AND MARKETS
This “meso level” of society includes the groups, structures, products, and processes that mediate between individuals and larger social forces. The Department has assembled a remarkable collection of faculty who pay attention to these processes as they play out in the economy, technology, the law, religion, nonprofit sector, education, and more. These are questions pursued by Professors Ammerman, Barman, Connell, Guseva, Mears, and Swartz.
GENDER AND THE SOCIAL ORGANIZATION OF WOMEN’S AND MEN’S LIVES
We seek to understand the role of gender in many realms of social life (including immigration, the economy, health, religion, and education), as well as gender’s role in relation to other dimensions of inequality and its relationships to family and sexuality. Professors Brown-Saracino, Connell, Eckstein, Kibria, Mears, Rieker and Olafsdottir are working in this area.
RACE, ETHNICITY, AND SOCIAL RELATIONS
The dynamics of race and ethnic relations continue to structure contemporary life, both in the United States and around the world. The Department has various scholars who teach about and study these relations, with an emphasis on comparative and global processes as well as on race and ethnic relations in the U.S.. Scholars working on this area include Professors Benjamin, Go, Kibria, Mears and Stone.
URBAN INSTITUTIONS AND URBAN COMMUNITIES
Recognizing that cities are fundamentally shaped by the diverse populations that come together in them and the private and public institutions that attempt to foster the well-being of those populations, the Department’s strengths in the study of migration, ethnicity, and nonprofit organizations provide a critical backdrop to our attention to cities in general and Boston in particular. Professors Barman, Brown-Saracino, Kibria, and Stone contribute to work in this area.
COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVES ON HEALTH, ILLNESS, AND HEALING
We are interested in how issues of health, illness, and healing are socially constructed, how social policies and institutional arrangements surrounding health care impact individual lives, and how physical and mental health problems are understood and responded to across contexts. Professors Coulter, Guseva, Olafsdottir, and Rieker are key to our research and teaching in this area.
Master of Arts
The master’s program requires eight semester courses including ones in theory and in research methods. Students also research and write a master’s thesis. The M.A. degree normally requires one-and-a-half to two years of full-time study.
Doctor of Philosophy
At Boston University, the Ph.D. program requires study in two substantive areas, in addition to general competence in theory and methods. Students who have already completed an M.A. or its equivalent apply for the “Post-Master’s Doctor of Philosophy” and are usually required to take eight seminars. All other students apply for the “Post-Bachelor’s Doctor of Philosophy” and take sixteen seminars, covering theory, methods, statistics, their two substantive focus areas, and electives. In addition to coursework, all Ph.D. candidates write a Critical Essay or complete a Critical Exam that surveys their two designated fields of specialization, pass the Comprehensive Oral Exam, write and secure approval of a Dissertation Prospectus, and write and defend a Dissertation at a Final Oral Examination.
Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Sociology and Social Work
In addition to the Ph.D. program in Sociology, the Department of Sociology and the School of Social Work offer an Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program that combines work in both fields. Information concerning this program may be obtained from the School of Social Work at 264 Bay State Road, Boston, MA 02215.