Sociology, M.A.

Ph.D. in Sociology

About the Degree

The joint doctoral program in Sociology is offered in conjunction with the faculty at nearby Kent State University. Students wishing to pursue a doctoral degree in the joint doctoral program are admitted to either Kent State University or The University of Akron. While the degree is earned at the admitting institution, once admitted to the program, students, faculty, and courses are treated as a single graduate department. Coursework is offered at both campuses and faculty and students interchange freely.

Although the M.A. is awarded in the course of working toward the Ph.D., students are not admitted who are only interested in pursuing a terminal master’s degree.

Students pursuing a Ph.D. are required to identify two areas from the department’s four areas of concentration and take nine (9) hours of coursework in each area:

  1. Criminology and Deviance: This area focuses on norm violations, such as violence or drug use, and the social responses to such violations, including the operation of the legal system.
  2. Inequalities: This area focuses on the causes and consequences of the unequal distribution of resources, especially with regard to social class, gender, and race/ethnicity.
  3. Medical and Mental Health: This area focuses on medical sociology and the sociology of mental health, including the stress process, neighborhoods and health, aging, health disparities, care giving and caregivers, and epidemiology.
  4. Social Psychology: This area focuses on issues such as identity, values, personality, group processes, and emotion in relation to social structure and culture.

In addition to the coursework requirement, students identify one primary area of study from their two chosen program areas. They write a candidacy paper and pass an oral examination in this primary area prior to advancing to the dissertation stage.

In addition to the four areas of concentration (Criminology and Deviance, Inequalities, Medical and Mental Health, and Social Psychology) the joint program regularly offers a range of classes related to qualitative and quantitative research methods, sociological theories, and diverse substantive topics within sociology. Recent courses we have offered include: Race and Crime; Social Psychology of Inequality; Race and Ethnicity; Crime and Criminal Justice Policy; Mental Health and Social Control; Psychosocial Aspects of Health; and Social Gerontology. We also offer a course to prepare students to become college teachers.

Salary and Career Outlook

The Ph.D. in Sociology prepares graduates for a variety of careers both within and outside academia. Graduates have obtained significant skills in areas that will continue to be sought by employers in a changing world, including critical thinking, quantitative and qualitative data analysis, written and verbal communication, multicultural sensitivity, and the ability to understand individual and group behavior in its social context. The career outlook continues to be quite good, particularly in the area of criminology, one of our four areas of concentration. According to an August 2014 report by the American Sociological Association, the top two areas in sociology for jobs for Ph.D.s were criminology/criminal justice (159 positions; 15% of all advertised jobs), yet there were only 85 job seekers with qualifications in these areas. There is a tremendous demand for faculty with criminology specializations and not enough programs training them.

Starting salaries for Assistant Professors, College Lecturers, or applied sociologists in non-academic settings with a Ph.D. generally range from $40,000 to $70,000. The standard salary for a new tenure track Assistant Professor is approximately $55,000 ( Graduates of our program have much higher mid- and late-career salaries for academic positions such as President, Provost, or Professor, or for non-academic positions within state government or nonprofits.

Why Akron?

We are the only joint doctoral program in sociology in the US. This gives students access to more sociology faculty than any other university in Ohio. We have one of the largest concentrations of sociology faculty who specialize in criminology.

We have had 100% job placement of Ph.D. graduates. A special strength of our program is mixed methods training, which includes training in advanced quantitative data analysis (e.g., Hierarchical Linear Models, Structural Equation Models) and qualitative training in the NSF-Funded Active Research Methods Lab (a joint venture of Sociology, Anthropology, and Education at UA). Students also have access to the Survey Research Lab and Kent State.

Contact Information

            Graduate Coordinator:           Dr. John Zipp

                                                            Olin Hall, Room 247G


                                                            (330) 972-6893

            Graduate School:                   Heather Blake

                                                            Polsky Building, Room 467


                                                            (330) 972-7664