Ph.D. Program Overview

The Ph.D. program prepares students to conduct the highest level of sociological research. Graduates of the program go on to occupy research and teaching positions at top universities around the world as well as advanced positions in government and private industry. Alumni of the program include some of the most distinguished sociologists of the last century.

The program is intimate in size and highly selective, with hundreds of applicants each year and cohort sizes between four and eight students. 


During the first two-and-a-half years of the program, doctoral students receive training in sociological theory and a range of research methods through required coursework and through faculty mentorship and collaboration. Students are expected to take additional elective courses in multiple substantive areas of the discipline. Through the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium (IUDC), students may also enroll in courses at NYU, Princeton University, and other consortium member schools. 

In addition to coursework requirements, Columbia's program involves a series of task-based requirements that the department has deemed essential for students' professional development. The tasks (which include presenting original research at a professional conference, submitting a research article to a scholarly journal, and others) are meant to facilitate students' specialization in a substantive area of the discipline and train students in the practical work of being a sociologist.

Doctoral students are expected to participate in the department's numerous workshops and seminars, and are encouraged to affiliate with the department's associated labs, centers, and institutes, including the Justice Lab, the Trust Collaboratory, the Labor Lab, the Center for the Study of Wealth and Inequality, the Data and Racial Inequality Project, the Center on Organizational Innovation, and others.   

The typical trajectory through the Ph.D. program includes the awarding of the M.A. degree (usually after the second year) and M.Phil. degree (usually after the third year). On average, students receive the Ph.D. in six years.