PhD Program


The Doctoral Program in Sociology focuses on the sociology of health, illness, biomedicine, and health care systems. Some specific areas of concentration include race, class, gender and health disparities; science, technology, and medicine studies; and social determinants of health, including, community and individual exposures to violence, incarceration, and work conditions.  Additional areas of study include HIV/AIDS, health professions and occupations, violence as a health issue, aging, among others. All students are required to complete extended training in social theory and both qualitative and quantitative research methods and analysis.

The Department of Social & Behavioral Sciences (SBS) also offers instruction in research methodology and sociology to enrich the nursing programs and to contribute social science perspectives to the health science mission of the UC San Francisco campus.

The UCSF Doctoral Program in Sociology is housed in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS), one of four departments of instruction and research in the School of Nursing at the University of California, San Francisco. (Also affiliated with the School of Nursing as well as the SBS department is the Institute of Health & Aging.)

The School of Nursing also offers a Doctoral Program in Nursing. The Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences offers a Health Policy doctoral specialty program for students with a nursing background, and a Health Policy & Public Health specialty for those pursuing the MS degree. Visit the Health Policy & Public Health Program web page for further information about the PhD, MS, minor and Post-MS.

To qualify for candidacy for the doctoral degree in sociology, students must satisfactorily complete qualifying examinations in social theory and in sociology of health and illness at the end of the first and second years. Additionally, the student must prepare a scholarly literature review on a relevant problem leading to the dissertation, which usually addresses selected specialty area(s) on which the student has chosen to focus. The dissertation is expected to be based on original research.

The Doctoral Program in Sociology offers one of the most in-depth curricula in the US in medical sociology broadly conceived. The Masters degree in sociology is not offered at UCSF.

There are no undergraduate programs at UCSF. Thus all courses are at the graduate level. The specialty areas and emphases noted above reflect both the past work and current research interest of departmental faculty. From a research standpoint, they are particularly well suited to the urban health-and science-oriented setting of the campus at the University of California, San Francisco.

The sociology doctoral program accepts applications from post baccalaureate students with backgrounds in the social sciences, in certain humanities such as history or philosophy, and in the health professions such as public health, nursing, psychology, or social work.

A limited number of fellowships and research assistantships are available, either through the resources of the University, the program/department itself, the Institute for Health & Aging, or ongoing research programs in the department or on campus.

In addition to the Institute for Health & Aging, SBS is affiliated with the Institute for Health Policy Studies (IHPS) and the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences. SBS is also part of the Center for Health and Community (CHC), a group of health policy and social sciences departments and research units with a common mission that includes advancing innovative partnerships and interdisciplinary programs.


Recruitment and screening of applications for this program is handled directly by the SBS department. The SBS (and IHA) offices are located in the Mission Bay campus, 490 Illinois Street, Floor 12, sharing a corner with the Chase Center and adjacent to the bay.