The graduate program in sociology provides rigorous training in theory and methods as well as in these substantive areas: crime, law, and social control; gender and family; social and political organizations (stratification, political sociology, complex organizations); and social psychology, which is ranked #3 in the country in U.S. News and World Report).

The doctoral program has a research emphasis and primarily prepares sociologists for positions at colleges and universities or research positions in academic, private, and government institutions. For a summary of where the department's recent graduates have found employment, view Recent Student Placement on the Department of Sociology and Criminology website.

Graduate students work closely with faculty on collaborative research as well as developing independent research programs. In addition to valuable research experiences, students also can obtain substantial training and experience in undergraduate teaching, including online courses. The department training program includes an orientation workshop for new teaching assistants, a credited teaching seminar, SOC:7010 Teaching Sociology, for advanced graduate students, courses on instruction, and an opportunity for these graduate students to design and teach their own courses under the mentorship of the faculty.

Learning Outcomes

The graduate program in the Department of Sociology and Criminology develops professionals who are qualified to conduct original research in the field of sociology and serve the discipline and larger community through teaching and/or other applications of sociological and criminological knowledge. The program’s specific learning outcomes are outlined below.

Goals and Outcomes

To develop the expertise to conduct original research in sociology and criminology that is publishable in scholarly outlets.

  • Develop a professional skillset in research methodology commonly used in the social sciences, particularly sociology and criminology.
  • Develop a professional skillset in social science theories pertaining to sociology and criminology.
  • Develop professional expertise in substantive sociological and criminological research areas, which at minimum includes graduate-level competence in both a major and minor area of research.
  • Develop scholarly writing and communication skills.

To serve the discipline and broader community as sociologists and criminologists.

  • To be prepared to teach in the field of sociology and/or criminology.
  • To understand the goals, practices, and standards of research and applied professionals associated with the discipline of sociology and/or criminology. This includes developing a firm grasp of the principles of ethical research.

The Doctor of Philosophy program in sociology requires a minimum of 72 s.h. of graduate credit. Students must maintain a program g.p.a. of at least 3.25.

All Ph.D. students must complete the following courses with grades of B-minus or higher.

SOC:5110History of Sociological Theory3
SOC:5160Research Design and Methods3
SOC:6170Introduction to Sociological Data Analysis (required for the M.A.)3
SOC:6180Linear Models in Sociological Research (required for the M.A.)3
Two elective courses in methods/statistics numbered 5000 or above
One advanced theory course such as SOC:6110

Students also must pass a comprehensive exam, write and defend a dissertation prospectus, and write and successfully defend a dissertation.

For a detailed statement of graduate study rules, visit the Department of Sociology and Criminology website. Prospective doctoral students should examine this information carefully.

Teaching Assistantship Training

All new graduate teaching assistants (TAs) are expected to attend a three-day orientation before classes begin. In addition, SOC:7010 Teaching Sociology is required for students who wish to teach their own courses.


The Department of Sociology and Criminology and the College of Law offer the combined Juris Doctor/Doctor of Philosophy. The program is highly individualized, allowing students to explore varied aspects of the relationship between law and society. Combined degree program Ph.D./J.D. students may count up to 12 s.h. of graduate credit toward both degrees, with approval from the Department of Sociology and the College of Law.

Separate application to each degree program is required. Applicants must be admitted to both programs before they may be admitted to the combined degree program. For information about the J.D., see Juris Doctor, J.D. (College of Law) in the Catalog.

Admission to graduate study in sociology usually requires an undergraduate g.p.a. of at least 3.25.

All applicants must complete the Graduate College application form, the supplemental sociology and criminology department application, and use the department's personal reference forms to obtain three letters of recommendation.

Applicants whose first language is not English must submit official test scores to verify English proficiency. Applicants can verify English proficiency by submitting official test scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or the Duolingo English Test (DET).

All application materials for fall admission must be received by January 1. Evaluation of applications begins in early January.

Admission decisions are based on consideration of prior academic performance, personal reference letters, and the applicant's statement of reasons for pursuing advanced work in sociology at the University of Iowa. The department has no specific undergraduate course requirements for admission, but a background in the social sciences with some mathematical training is useful. A foreign language is not required for admission, and there is no foreign language requirement for a graduate degree in sociology. To inquire about admission, consult the director of graduate studies, Department of Sociology and Criminology.

The Department of Sociology and Criminology offers teaching assistantships and research assistantships for graduate students. Students who receive one-half-time teaching or research assistantships work 20 hours each week for faculty members on either teaching or research assignments. Out-of-state students who hold assistantships are assessed tuition at the resident rate. Graduate students also may be eligible for fellowships offered by the Graduate College.

The deadline for applying for departmental financial support is January 1.

The program of study for the Ph.D. primarily aims to prepare sociologists for academic positions in colleges and universities or for research positions in academic, private, and government institutions.

In addition to preparing students for careers in social service, criminal justice, and other areas, this major offers an integrated package of courses, research training, writing enhancement, international perspective, and internships to provide graduates with impressive credentials.

The Pomerantz Career Center and the Graduate College Career Exploration and Planning website offer multiple resources to help students find jobs.

Sample Plan of Study

Sample plans represent one way to complete a program of study. Actual course selection and sequence will vary and should be discussed with an academic advisor. For additional sample plans, see MyUI.

Sociology, Ph.D.

Plan of Study Grid (Manual)
Academic Career
Any SemesterHours
72 s.h. must be graduate level coursework. More information is included in the General Catalog and on department website. a, b
First Year
SOC:5110 History of Sociological Theory c 3
SOC:6170 Introduction to Sociological Data Analysis c 3
SOC:7270 Scholarly Professionalism and Integrity I 2
Elective course d 3
SOC:5160 Research Design and Methods c 3
SOC:6180 Linear Models in Sociological Research c 3
SOC:7271 Scholarly Professionalism and Integrity II 2
Elective course d 3
Second Year
Final Exam (MA Defense)
SOC:6080 Master's Thesis 3
Elective course d 3
Elective course d 3
Theory course numbered 5000 or above c, e 3
Elective course d 3
Elective course d 3
Third Year
Methods/Statistics course numbered 5000 or above c, e 3
Elective course d 3
Elective course d 3
SOC:7030 Readings and Research Tutorial 3
Methods/Statistics course numbered 5000 or above c, e 3
Elective course d 3
Fourth Year
Any Semester
Comprehensive Exam
Prospectus Defense
SOC:7030 Readings and Research Tutorial 6
Elective course d 3
SOC:7090 Ph.D. Dissertation 5
Final Exam f
 Total Hours72
The graduate program provides rigorous training in theory and methods as well as in these substantive areas: Crime, Law, and Social Control; Gender and Family; Social and Political Organizations; Social Psychology. Students will work with a faculty advisor to determine an area of concentration according to the individual student's interests.
Students must complete specific requirements in the University of Iowa Graduate College after program admission. Refer to the Graduate College website and the Manual of Rules and Regulations for more information.
Grade of B- or better is required.
Work with faculty advisor to determine appropriate graduate level elective coursework and sequence.
May not count SOC:7030 or any other independent study or research course towards this requirement; selected course must be approved by director of graduate studies.
Dissertation defense.