Sociology: a program reflecting UCSF's commitment to cutting-edge research on health

The Doctoral Program in Sociology at UCSF offers a unique PhD program, and one of the most in-depth curricula in the US, focused on the sociology of health, illness, biomedicine, and health care systems. We are housed in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, one of four departments in the School of Nursing. UCSF is one of few institutions solely dedicated to the study of health both domestically and globally. We are committed, as a department and a community of students, staff, and faculty, to working to advance racial and social justice and health equity; read about our commitment, here.

Our program’s faculty, alumni, and students are notable for their roots in the discipline of sociology, as well as their contributions and leadership in the interdisciplinary health sciences. We are one of the most highly ranked graduate programs in sociology nationwide: the National Research Council in 2010 ranked our program 6th-20th out of a field of 118 sociology doctoral programs. Additionally, UCSF ranks among the top (16th) global universities for social science and public health. Our faculty, students, and alumni have been recognized for their works and accomplishments with support from funders such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, and with prestigious awards from such professional organizations as the American Sociological Association, the Society for Social Studies of Science, the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction, and the Society for the Study of Social Problems. Our graduates have forged successful careers as critical and engaged sociologists in a variety of settings, including in academia, research institutes, government, and the non-profit sector.

For those committed to studying issues of health, illness, and medicine, and seeking doctoral-level graduate training, UCSF offers a unique, immersive, and intensive program of study, leading to the PhD in Sociology and preparation for diverse careers in the social sciences of health. Our program features:

  • Extensive training in both general sociological theory and sociology of health, illness, and medicine
  • Required, rigorous methodological training in both quantitative and qualitative research methods that includes hands-on learning through the conduct of original research
  • Specializations in:
  • Race, Class, Gender, and Health 
  • Social Policy and Health Policy
  • Social Determinants of Health, including community and individual exposures to violence, incarceration, and working conditions
  • Faculty with additional expertise in aging, STS, mental health, and health disparities. 
  • Commitments to social justice and reducing health inequalities that pervade the curriculum and the research of faculty and students.
  • The theoretical bases of the program focus on classical, interactionist, and contemporary sociological perspectives, and the program has a dual orientation toward qualitative and quantitative research methods.  

We are part of a network of social science communities at UCSF, including the Institute for Health & Aging, the Center for Transdisciplinary ELSI Research in Translational Genomics (CT2G), the Center for Health and Community (CHC), and the Social and Population Health Sciences Research Consortium (SocPop). Moreover, we have key relationships with such Bay Area intellectual communities as the Science & Justice Center (University of California, Santa Cruz), and the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine & Society (University of California, Berkeley).

The Sociology program is offered by the UCSF Graduate Division, administered by the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) in the UCSF School of Nursing, and delivered by faculty members in the UCSF School of Nursing.​