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Office: Building 120, Room 160
Mail Code: 94305-2047
Phone: (650) 723-3956
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Courses offered by the Department of Sociology are listed under the subject code SOC on the Stanford Bulletin's ExploreCourses web site.

Sociology seeks to understand all aspects of human social behavior, including the behavior of individuals as well as the social dynamics of small groups, large organizations, communities, institutions, and entire societies. Sociologists are typically motivated both by the desire to better understand the principles of social life and by the conviction that understanding these principles may aid in the formulation of enlightened and effective social policy. Sociology provides an intellectual background for students considering careers in the professions or business. Students may pursue degrees in sociology at the bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral levels. The department organizes its courses by areas of study to assist students in tailoring their education and research to their academic interests and career goals.

Mission of the Undergraduate Program in Sociology

The mission of the undergraduate program in Sociology is to provide students with the skills necessary to understand and address social problems and inequalities in global, institutional, and interpersonal social relations. At its core, the curriculum in the major is rooted in social theory and the scientific method. Sociology majors are given opportunities to develop a broad understanding of core sociological theories and the methodological skills used to evaluate human behavior and social organizations. Sociology provides an intellectual background for students considering careers in business, social services, public policy, government service, international nongovernmental organizations, foundations, or academia.

The Sociology major consists of a core curriculum plus elective courses intended to provide breadth of exposure to the variety of areas encompassed by sociology.

Graduate Programs in Sociology

The Department of Sociology offers three types of advanced degrees:

  • the Doctor of Philosophy

  • the coterminal Master of Arts in Sociology which is restricted to currently enrolled Stanford undergraduates

  • the Master of Arts in Sociology which is available to Stanford students who are currently enrolled in other advanced degree programs.

The department does not have a terminal M.A. program for external applicants.

Areas of Study

The Department of Sociology specializes in four general areas of study, allowing students to tailor their education and research to their academic interests and career goals. The five areas of study supported by the department are:

Organizations, Business, and the Economy

Focus is on the arrangements which societies construct for the provision of material goods or services. A formal organization which provides goods or services for profit and sells them through a market is called a business, and the economic system is capitalism. Social needs are also met through government and not-for-profit organizations, such as garden clubs, hospitals, prisons, and the Red Cross; some private and social needs are met outside of organizations, such as health care provided by family members and exchange of favors among friends. Courses stress the factors that determine whether needs that people define are met through markets or non-market allocation, through organizations, or by other means. They also investigate the environmental and technical factors that shape organization structure, the determinants of how efficiently organizations operate, and the interpersonal processes that shape individual behavior within organizations. Careers related to this field include management and administration in business or public settings, management consulting and analysis, and legal studies related to corporations, organizations, and business.

Social Movements, Comparative Politics, and Social Change

Focus is on the emergence, reproduction, and change of political systems and institutions, especially on why and how different political systems and social movements appear in different times and places, and how differences in political regimes and economic systems influence attempts to change these systems. The origins and significance of national and transnational social movements, transition to democracy, including revolution, nationalism, and other forms of collective action, in creating and sustaining these changes analyzed across countries and over time. Careers that are relevant to this field include law, public policy, government service, nonprofit and international nongovernmental organizations, business organizations (especially those with international interests), consulting, and managerial jobs.

Social Psychology and Interpersonal Processes

Focus is on the social organization of individual identity, beliefs, and behavior, and upon social structures and processes which emerge in and define interpersonal interactions. Processes studied include social acceptance and competition for prestige and status, the generation of power differences, the development of intimacy bonds, the formation of expectation states which govern performance in task-oriented groups, and social pressures to constrain deviance. Foundation courses emphasize the effect of social processes on individual behavior and the analysis of group processes. This field provides training for careers with a significant interpersonal component, including advertising and marketing, business, education, law, management, medicine and health, or social work.

Social Inequality

Focus is on forms of social inequality, including fields such as: the shape and nature of social inequalities; competition for power; allocation of privilege; production and reproduction of social cleavages; and consequences of class, race, and gender for outcomes such as attitudes, political behavior, and lifestyles. Many courses emphasize changes in the structure of social inequalities over time, and the processes which produce similarities or differences in stratification across nations. Topics include educational inequality, employment history, gender differences, income distributions, poverty, race, and ethnic relations, social mobility, and status attainment. Careers related to this field include administration, advertising, education, foreign service, journalism, industrial relations, law, management consulting, market research, public policy, and social service.

Race, Gender, Immigration, Identity and Policy

Focus is on population diversity, primarily in the United States, and on how identity is formed and maintained. Classes in this subject area address segregation, integration, and assimilation. What does it mean to cross from one group to another? How has the law treated racial minorities, sexual minorities, and immigrants differently over time? Careers related to this field include social work, teaching, research, law, management, and population studies which can be applied to any industry.

Joint Programs in Sociology with the School of Law

The School of Law and Department of Sociology conduct joint programs leading to either a combined J.D. degree with an M.A. degree in Sociology or to a combined J.D. degree with a Ph.D. in Sociology.

Law students interested in pursuing an M.A. in Sociology apply for admission to the Department of Sociology during the first year of Law school. Once admitted to the Department of Sociology, the student must complete standard departmental master’s degree requirements as specified in this bulletin. Applications for the joint J.D./M.A. degree program must be approved by both the department and the Law school. Faculty advisers from each program participate in the planning and supervising of the student’s academic program.

The J.D./Ph.D. degree program is designed for students who wish to prepare themselves for research or teaching careers in areas relating to both legal and sociological concerns. Students interested in the joint degree program must be admitted to both the School of Law and the Department of Sociology. Interest in the joint degree program must be noted on each of the student’s applications. Alternatively, an enrolled student in either the Law School or the Sociology department may apply to the other program, preferably during their first year of study. Students participating in the joint degree program are not eligible to transfer and receive credit for a masters, or other degree, towards the Sociology Ph.D..

Upon admission, students are assigned a joint program faculty adviser who assists the student in planning an appropriate program and ensuring that all requirements for both degrees are satisfied. The faculty adviser serves in this capacity during the student’s course of study regardless of whether the student is enrolled in the School of Law or the Sociology department.

J.D./Ph.D. students may elect to begin their course of study in either the School of Law or the Department of Sociology. Students must be enrolled full-time in the Law school for the first year of Law school and must enroll full time in the graduate school for the first year of the Sociology program. After that time, enrollment may be in the graduate school or the Law school, and students may choose courses from either program regardless of where enrolled. Students must satisfy the requirements for both the J.D. and the Ph.D. degrees. Up to 54 quarter units of approved course work may be counted towards both degrees, but no more than 31 quarter units of courses that originate outside the Law school may count towards the Law degree. The Law degree may be conferred upon completion of applicable Law school requirements; it is not necessary to have both degrees conferred simultaneously. Students participating in the joint degree program are not eligible to transfer and receive credit for a master's or other degree towards the Ph.D. Students must complete the equivalent of 183 quarter units to complete both degrees.  Tuition and financial aid arrangements normally are through the school in which the student is currently enrolled.

The Law degree may be conferred upon completion of applicable Law school requirements; it is not necessary to have both degrees conferred simultaneously.

For more information, see the Sociology web site, and the Law School web site on the J.D./Ph.D.


Emeriti: (Professors) Joseph Berger, Michael T. Hannan, Douglas McAdam, John W. Meyer, Susan Olzak, Cecilia Ridgeway, W. Richard Scott, Nancy B. Tuma

Chair: Jeremy Freese

Director of Graduate Studies: Shelley Correll

Director of Coterminal Masters: Michelle Jackson

Director of Undergraduate Studies: Michael Rosenfeld

Professors: Karen Cook, Shelley Correll, Jeremy Freese, Mark Granovetter, David Grusky, Tomás Jiménez, Michael Rosenfeld, Gi-Wook Shin, C. Matthew Snipp, Florencia Torche, Kiyoteru Tsutsui, Andrew Walder, Robb Willer, Xueguang Zhou

Associate Professors: Aliya Saperstein, Forrest Stuart

Assistant Professors: Asad L. Asad, Matthew Clair, Jackelyn Hwang, Michelle Jackson, Barbara Kiviat

Adjunct Professors: Glenn Carroll, Michele Landis Dauber, Larry Diamond, Daniel McFarland, Walter Powell, Francisco Ramirez, Hayagreeva Rao, Sean Reardon, Jesper Sørensen, Sarah Soule, Mitchell Stevens

Adjunct Associate Professors:  Patricia Bromley, Amir Goldberg, Jennifer Pan, David Rehkopf, Adina Sterling, Christine Min Wotipka

Adjunct Assistant Professors: Angèle Christin, Benjamin Domingue

Lecturers: Eva Meyersson Milgrom, Michaela Simmons

Adjunct Consulting Professor: Ruth Cronkite