About the Department

The University of Chicago's Department of Sociology is among the great sociology departments in the world. Founded in 1892 as the first sociology department in the United States, the Department and its faculty have pioneered new literatures and methodologies in the discipline. In the 1920s, the Chicago School of Sociology became synonymous with well theorized and carefully researched urban ethnographic fieldwork. Building off this tradition, past students and faculty have shaped sociological subfields from stratification and demography to deviance and urban studies. They have originated methodologies from path analysis and log-linear modeling to new modes of urban ethnography. Diverse in interest, methodology, theory, and politics, the Department’s faculty and students are united in their intensity of intellectual commitment, in their embrace of rigorous inquiry with mutual intellectual respect, and in their goal to deploy sociological frameworks and understanding across a wide array of social phenomena.

MAPSS Support for Sociology

Approximately 40 MAPSS students concentrate in Sociology or in closely-related disciplines each year. Preceptors provide advice on course selections, faculty advisors, and thesis projects. In addition to the many methods courses offered in the Sociology department, MAPSS faculty teach Involved Interviewing, the Survey Research Overview, Data Analysis and Statistics, Ethnographic Methods, and Coding and Analyzing Qualitative Data. Recent MAPSS graduates have gone on for the PhD in Sociology at Duke, UChicago, and the University of British Columbia, to name a few.

Sample Courses

SOCI 40174. Researching Gender and Sexuality. This course is an introduction to qualitative methods for researching gender & sexuality as well as a research practicum for students. The course is designed to aid graduate students and advanced undergraduates in developing a solid, executable research study focused on gender and sexuality. Over the ten-week course, students read exemplary articles and books showcasing a variety of qualitative research methodologies. Additionally, they read methodology articles that highlight the benefits and limitations of various methodologies and study designs. Students are required to identify a research question at the beginning of the course. They analyze existing research on this topic, and conduct a limited amount of their own primary research on the topic. The course assignments build toward the formation of a final project: a research proposal complete with a literature review, methods section, preliminary data section, and a research hypotheses section. At the end of the course, students will not only have a deeper understanding of methodological approaches to gender and sexuality research, but also will have gained experience in collecting data and designing a viable research proposal. 

SOCI 30101. Organizational Analysis. A systematic introduction to theoretical and empirical work on organizations broadly conceived, such as public and private economic organizations, governmental organizations, prisons, health-care organizations, and professional and voluntary associations. Topics include intraorganizational questions about organizational goals and effectiveness, communication, authority, and decision-making. Using recent developments in market, political economy, and neo-institutional theories, we will explore organizational change and interorganizational relationships for their implications in understanding social change in modern societies. 

SOCI 30102. Social Change. This course presents a general overview of causal processes of macro-institutional level social changes. It considers a variety of types of cross-national, over-time changes such as economic growth, bureaucratization, revolutions, democratization, spread of cultural and institutional norms, deindustrialization, globalization and development of welfare states. It also covers various forms of planned changes in oppositional social movements (civil rights, environmental, women’s, and labor movements).

SOCI 40201. Race and Immigration in the U.S. The dominant paradigm of American race relations has changed dramatically in the last two decades, as the prevailing White-Black binary is challenged by mass migration from Asia and Latin America. This course examines the utility of classical assimilation frameworks for understanding the experiences and trajectories of Latino and Asian immigrants and their children. It introduces students to competing debates about the future direction of the U.S. ethno-racial hierarchy, addressing questions such as: How do the experiences of previous European immigrants differ from those of contemporary non-white immigrants? Are changing demographics leading to the emergence of a black/non-black divide, a tri-racial order, or something else altogether? And what are the consequences for race and ethnic relations and new forms of social inequities? 

SOCI 40168. Welfare States, Poverty, and Inequality. This course gives an overview of the political economy of social policy in advanced industrial democracies. The course explores how organized social forces, partisan politics, business interests, international pressures, and demographic changes have shaped and transformed the welfare state regimes and how such processes have affected distributional outcomes in rich democracies and developing countries. Topics include: Theories of the Welfare State, Welfare State Regime Typology, Bargaining Regimes and Welfare Regimes, Development of American Welfare State, Post-industrial Economy and Welfare States, Globalization/Financial Crisis and Welfare States, Social Movements and Welfare States, Welfare States and Poverty, Welfare States and Income Inequality, Welfare States and Gender Inequality. 


Social Theory and Evidence
Social scientists continue to struggle over the relative merits of their many enterprises: explanation versus interpretation, causal versus descriptive analysis, the development of theories versus the testing of hypotheses. Two questions are foundational: What constitutes a good theory? And at what point does the evidence for an argument turn from plausible to compelling? These problems, present from the birth of social science, have grown no less thorny, but also no less critical, since how we choose to solve them informs the evidence we believe and the theories we generate. This workshop focuses on the clarity and cogency of social theories and the logic and effectiveness of evidence in social research.

Urban Workshop
In partnership with the Council on Advanced Studies, the Urban Network sponsors the Urban Workshop, formerly known as the City, Society and Space Workshop. Through its portfolio of programs, co-sponsorship of events, and network of scholars, the Urban Network fosters innovation, cultivates scholarship, builds cross-disciplinary connections, and shines a spotlight on the urban research happening at UChicago.

Gender and Sexuality Studies Workshop
The Gender and Sexuality Studies Workshop (GSSW) provides an interdisciplinary forum for the development of critical perspectives on gender and sexuality. In bringing together work in gender studies and queer theory, workshop members build interdisciplinary analytical tools with informed perspectives on how gender and sexuality theories inform and constitute one another. Furthermore, participants develop an appreciation for the use of multiple methodological perspectives, in seeing how gender and sexuality are embedded in social practice.

Centers and Institutes

Urban Network

Consortium for Chicago School Research

Population Research Center


Survey Lab

Related Departments of Interest to MAPSS Students

Comparative Human DevelopmentHarris School of Public PolicyThe Law School,  Political SciencePozen Family Center for Human RightsSchool of Social Service Administration