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Doctor of Philosophy

About the Program

Become an expert in human social behavior, patterns of social relationships and social interaction with a PhD in Sociology from Case Western Reserve University, one of the top research universities in the U.S. Here, you’ll learn from internationally renowned faculty in a supportive yet intellectually rigorous environment.  As you develop close working relationships with our faculty, you’ll gain mentors who will guide you throughout the program and beyond.  

With globalization and the increasing diversity of our society, many employers look favorably on the breadth of knowledge and perspective that PhD graduates in sociology bring to workplaces, including those in medicine and law. Graduates of our program have gone on to work at research institutions, universities, and in medicine, private industry, and the public sector.

What to Expect

You’ll specialize in four unique areas: age and the life course, medical sociology, social inequality, and research methods. Beyond our core curriculum, you can further focus on a wide range of topics including health disparities, stress and coping, human rights, illness experience, gender and sexualities, racial inequality, mass incarceration, social movements and identity, and immigation.  

Here, you’ll acquire advanced training in both qualitative and quantitative methods, participating in apprentice-based research mentorship experiences in a range of empirical projects, including some supported by the National Institutes of Health. You’ll gain hands-on experience with research projects, managing data collection, preparing grant applications for research funding, presenting papers at national and international meetings, and writing and publishing with faculty. 

Financial assistance is available in the form of university tuition waivers, graduate teaching and research assistantships and student employment on research grants.

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Beyond the Classroom

In our program, you’ll be involved in interdisciplinary research, working with students and faculty from our schools of medicine, law, nursing and social work on a range of topics. Recent projects include:

  • Cancer Survivors Research Program, which continues studying the quality of life of older adult long-term cancer survivors
  • Citizen Reentry Study, which works with incarcerated individuals
  • Comparative-Historical Analysis of Children’s Rights, which measures the status of children’s rights in more than 190 countries from 1984-2014
  • The Forest Hill Neighborhood Study, which aims to unpack the causes of racial residential preferences by examining what compels members of the middle class to live in a majority-Black Cleveland neighborhood, and several other research projects

By the Numbers


private research university in the U.S., Center for Measuring University Performance 


students per year


full-time faculty


credit hours

Admission Requirements

Our program thrives when we have students with diverse perspectives and a range of educational, professional and life experiences. We look forward to learning more about you!

  • Current CV
  • Writing sample(s)
  • Objective statement
  • Official GRE scores
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts

Contact Us

Headshot of Jessica Kelley
Jessica Kelley
Professor, Director of the Graduate Program in Sociology
Department of Sociology

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