May 21, 2018  
USC Catalogue 2016-2017 
USC Catalogue 2016-2017 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]


Return to: USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences  

The Department of Sociology offers bachelor's degrees in sociology, health and the human sciences, and non-governmental organizations and social change. The Department of Sociology also offers a number of minors and the Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology. Students of sociology examine the patterns of social life, focusing on the relationship of individuals to society and the interaction of culture, economy and politics in shaping social life. The greater Los Angeles area provides a natural laboratory for students to explore such sociological themes as race relations, work and the workplace, immigration, the family in a changing society, population trends, globalization, religion and the criminal justice system. Matching the special strengths of our faculty and cutting edge research in the discipline, USC's sociology program offers students the opportunity to learn about social issues locally, nationally, and internationally, as well as develop empirical research tools to conduct research, and analyze and interpret data in order to create social change. Many of our undergraduate courses include opportunities to engage actively with the community and to pursue multi-faceted independent research projects.

Hazel and Stanley Hall 314
(213) 740-3533
FAX: (213) 740-3535

Chair: Timothy Biblarz, PhD*


University Professor, Wallis Annenberg Chair of Communication Technology and Society and Professor of Communication, Sociology, Planning and International Relations: Manuel Castells, PhD (Communications)

Turpanjian Chair in Civil Society and Social Change and Professor of Sociology and American Studies and Ethnicity: Manuel Pastor, PhD*

Professors: Lynne Casper, PhD; Nina Eliasoph, PhD; Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo, PhD*; Paul Lichterman, PhD; Michael Messner, PhD*; Dowell Myers, PhD (Policy, Planning and Development); Rhacel Salazar Parreñas, PhD; Camille Rich, JD (Law); Avelardo Valdez, PhD (Social Work); John P. Wilson, PhD

Associate Professors: Timothy Biblarz, PhD*; Jennifer Hook, PhD; Elaine Bell Kaplan, PhD; Andrew Lakoff, PhD; Leland Saito, PhD; Jody Agius Vallejo, PhD*

Assistant Professors: Jennifer Ailshire, PhD (Gerontology); Katie Hasson, PhD; Alwyn Lim, PhD; Ann Owens, PhD; Emily Ryo, PhD (Law); Emily Smith-Greenaway, PhD

Professor (Research): Brian Finch, PhD

Associate Professor (Teaching): Karen Sternheimer, PhD

Emeriti Professors: Constance Ahrons, PhD; Vern Bengtson, PhD (Gerontology); Lamar T. Empey, PhD; Malcolm Klein; Jon Miller, PhD*; H. Edward Ransford, PhD; Maurice D. Van Arsdol Jr., PhD

*Recipient of university-wide or college teaching award.

Undergraduate Degrees

Honors Program

Seniors with 3.5 GPAs in the major and 3.25 overall are encouraged to participate in the sociology honors program consisting of two intensive senior honors seminars (SOCI 494  and SOCI 495 ). Under faculty guidance, honors students design and complete a significant piece of original sociological research.

Juniors and seniors who have made substantial progress toward completion of the program and have achieved a 3.3. GPA in sociology and a 3.0 GPA overall are eligible for the Alpha Kappa Delta International Sociology Honors Society.

University Requirements for All Minors

To satisfy the university's minor requirements, students must choose at least four courses (16 units) outside their major department and at least four courses (16 units) of upper-division course work. In addition, at least four courses (16 units) must be dedicated to the minor (not counting for credit toward a major, another minor or USC core requirements).

Interdisciplinary Minors

American Studies and Ethnicity (see American Studies and Ethnicity ).

Law and Society (see Political Science ).

Race, Ethnicity and Politics (see Political Science ).

Graduate Degrees

The Department of Sociology offers programs of study leading to the Doctor of Philosophy degree. The PhD is directed toward the training of theoretically and methodologically sophisticated sociologists who have an enduring commitment to the practice and teaching of sociology.


Applicants must complete their applications by December 1. Consideration for university fellowships is possible as early as November for students whose applications are complete.


All applicants must have a bachelor's degree, a GPA of at least 3.0, and one or more courses in either undergraduate statistics or college algebra.


Admission to regular graduate status ordinarily requires possession of a bachelor's degree, a GPA of at least 3.0, one or more courses in undergraduate statistics and/or college algebra, and three letters of recommendation. The GRE is also required. International applicants must also submit their score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Approximately 5–8 students enroll each year from the available pool of applicants. Each application receives careful attention and is judged in terms of the full set of criteria.

A limited number of graduate course units taken elsewhere may be considered for transfer into the graduate program. These units are transferred in on a course-by-course basis.

Application Procedures

The following materials should be submitted to apply for graduate study:

  1. an online USC application form (available at plus a check for the admission fee;
  2. official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work;
  3. the official results of the general aptitude scores of the Graduate Record Examinations (verbal, quantitative, and analytical);
  4. for international students, a TOEFL or IELTS score;
  5. a completed Sociology Department Graduate Application form (please save and upload);
  6. one example of written work (normally a paper written for a course) of no more than 20 pages;
  7. three letters of recommendation from persons who can write about your academic performance and your potential as a social scientist;
  8. a personal statement describing (1) your present sociological interest, (2) the books, articles or ideas that have had the greatest influence on your interests in sociology, and (3) what you hope to be doing in the field of sociology 10 years after you receive your degree. We welcome you to include other aspects of your experience that you think are important sources of your sociological interests. We stress, though, that an effective personal statement will illustrate your intellectual engagement and your interest in producing high-quality scholarship.

Degree Requirements

These degrees are under the jurisdiction of the Graduate School. Refer to the Requirements for Graduation  section and The Graduate School  section of this catalogue for general regulations. All courses applied toward the degrees must be courses accepted by the Graduate School.


All graduate students must be in residence and must take at least eight units of graduate work each semester (except during Advanced and Qualifying Examinations), prior to work on the dissertation.

Master of Arts in Sociology

The department does not admit students whose objective is a master's degree. However, if a student accepted in the program does not have a master's degree, the department strongly recommends completion of the requirements for the MA in the course of work toward the PhD degree.


    Bachelor's DegreeMinorDoctoral Degree


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