Graduate Sociology Courses


SOCIOL 600:  Foundations of Applied Sociology
This course is required for all formally accepted first year students. The purpose of the course is a) to engage students in the field and substance of applied sociology, in order to strengthen their understanding of how the theories, concepts and research methods of sociology are central to social problem-solving, policymaking and to the skills required in a variety of occupation settings, b) to involve students at the beginning of their graduate education in designing their studies to meet their educational, career and personal objectives. Prerequisite: Enrollment in the MA Program in Applied Sociology.

SOCIOL 601:  Complex Organizations
The course acquaints students with studies of complex organizations that throw light on decision-making and conflict in the setting of formal organizations. Students will study how policies emerge and how they are translated into action. They study research illuminating the nature and functions of rules, the initiation and consequences of political processes, the role and problems of street-level bureaucrats, and the impact of social, political and economic conditions on organizational behavior. Theories and concepts are applied to human service organizations and their distinctive features are discussed.

SOCIOL 604:  Theories of Globalization
The course’s primary goal is to help PhD students further develop their specialization in globalization studies—enabling them to make important contributions either to globalization research and policy analysis in either academia or applied (nonprofit/policy) world. Another central purpose of this course is to help students understand the major and still emerging sociological theories, controversies, debates, and perspectives on globalization.

SOCIOL 605:  Applied Sociological Theory
This course examines the nature and aims of applied and basic sociological theory. Of special interest is the bearing of pure or basic sociological theory on applied research and problem solving, the differences between pure and applied sociological theory, and the relevance of applied theory for basic sociological theory. Other topics include the theoretical implications of moral and ethical concerns and restrictions in applied social research and employment; and the nature of the values and assumptions involved in efforts to devise and implement policy intended to treat social problems.

SOCIOL 606:  Social Semiotics and Cultural Analysis
This doctoral level sociology seminar is intended to provide participants with an introduction to semiotics and cultural analysis. Students will look at modes of expression and expressiveness; explore how culture manifests numerous modes of expressiveness, and how they are also embedded within culture. Students will discuss the process through which cultures develop meaningful links in terms of sensibility, understanding, and meaning making. Discussions will be associated with an in-depth analysis of the role of semiotics in culture and society and in doing so we will analyze the parallel between the function of the sign and the function of the signifying objects. This course will be useful also for those students who study or intend to work in communication, language, literature, theatre and media studies. In media it will be useful for analysis of subtexts, myths and ideologies in communication (ads, films, photo-magazines, television, Internet, etc.).

SOCIOL 607:  Contemporary Sociological Theory
As a core course in the program for PhD students, one of the principal goals of the course is to further the knowledge in sociological theory that students have acquired in the prior course on Classical Sociological Theory. It covers the theoretical trends after World War II. With a solid theoretical base in the Classics, students will be able to understand the evolution of sociological theory from an enormous variety of contexts of conversation, discussion, and interaction between people, scholars, ideas and institutions. These are the contexts that lead to the formation of such things as social movements, political parties, trade unions, and organized mass actions such as consumption, strikes, and revolutions. Social theory emerges from these contexts and is only a more reflective expression of the disputes and agendas that dominate ordinary communication about social and political issues. It is itself a social product with a multitude of everyday contexts of origination.

SOCIOL 609L:  Qualitative Methods and Field Research
This cross-listed course (with the PhD programs in Public Policy and Gerontology) is designed to introduce students to qualitative research methods. Students practice the skills needed to observe the world around us, by attending to social phenomena, descriptively and analytically. The course functions as both a seminar and a research workshop, in which students learn by doing.

SOCIOL 610:  Teaching Sociology. Theory and Practice
This seminar is designed for graduate students who are interested in teaching careers at the college and university level and/or in the scholarship about teaching and learning. Teaching assistants who are involved in classroom practice are also welcome. The course will address both the theory and practice of teaching with a focus on the kinds of backgrounds, experiences, and learning styles that UMass Boston students bring to the classroom.

SOCIOL 618:  Psychiatric Epidemiology and Forensic Services
This course will begin by orienting students to issues in the methods and findings of major psychiatric epidemiology studies, and then focus on these issues as they apply to a variety of criminal justice issues and settings. Understanding the epidemiology of mental illness in the general population is critical in considering the problem of mental disorders in the criminal justice system and for developing services to respond to those problems.

SOCIOL 620:  Social Problems
An analysis of theories to explain the historical development of social problems. Theories include Marxian and non-Marxian analyses, micro- and macro-theoretical approaches such as functionalism, conflict, interactionism and deviance perspectives. Special attention is given to the application of theories for the understanding of such contemporary social problems as unemployment and poverty, problems of urban communities, inter-group conflict/relations, individual deviance and others.

SOCIOL 621:  Social Psychiatry
Sociological analysis of psychiatric theories and practices; examination of the effect of social structure on the construction, diagnosis, and treatment of mental disorders.

SOCIOL 623:  Alcohol, Drugs and Crime
This course focuses on the multifaceted associations among alcohol, drug use, and crime in America. It distinguishes legal and policy issues from competing paradigms and contrasts criminal justice and public health models. State-of-the-art etiology, epidemiology, prevention, and treatment studies correlating criminality and substance misuse are assessed and evaluated in historical and sociocultural contexts. The course highlights social service systems in relation to current practices and institutionalized definitions of health and illness, crime and criminals.

SOCIOL 630:  Applied Social Psychology. This course has been designed to introduce students to sociological theories about interaction and to motivate students to explore how the theories about which they learn can make change in the real world. During the seminar, the class will cover a mixture of contemporary and classical research literature in the attempt to make sense of interactions in everyday social life and to use the ideas and concepts from the literature to address social problems.

SOCIOL 641:  Social Policy I. An in-depth examination of major factors shaping social policy, including historical antecedents; public and private sectors; the interaction of social policy, economy and politics; and how issues become defined as social problems.

SOCIOL 642:  Contemporary Social Policy. Special emphasis on problems and issues in implementing social policy, its impact on both recipients and non-recipients of services, and principles of social policy analysis and research. Special attention is given to selected problem areas, such as income-maintenance programs, manpower policy, race and ethnic relations, crime and delinquency, and health-care programs.

SOCIOL 643:  Immigration Policy: Global and North American Perspectives. This course has been developed as part of the curriculum for the Sociology This class offers a global perspective on immigration policy that is weighed toward issues and concerns that have defined the recent history of immigration policy in North America. It includes case studies from Western, Eastern and Southern Europe, Central and South East Asia, Canada, Australia, Africa, and the Caribbean.

SOCIOL 644:  Gender, Ethnicity and Migration
Why do people migrate? Do immigrants assimilate into host countries or maintain ties with their home countries? What factors shape the work experiences of (im)migrants? A gendered perspective, critical to the study of these topics, is still poorly integrated into international migration theory. This course will challenge us to keep gender at the center when answering the classic questions of migration studies. Students will be asked to consider how the feminization of migration and a perspective that includes the intersection of gender, ethnicity, class, and nation challenge the theoretical tools used to make sense of migration and its effects.

SOCIOL 645:  Sociology of Migration
This class offers a sociological perspective on migration by looking at why people migrate and explores the theoretical tools sociologists have developed for understanding migration. The course emphasizes the global context of international migration and examines the institutions that shape migration flows and the experiences of immigrants. These import issues will be examined from both the perspective of the receiving and sending countries.

SOCIOL 650:  Methods of Research I
Focuses on methods of collecting information about social beliefs and social process, including the operation of social service and other programs. The course requires students to conduct exercises that will give them first-hand experiences in various approaches to data-collection and management. Emphasis is given to techniques of survey, field, and experimental research. (Course offered in the fall only.)

SOCIOL 651:  Methods of Research II
A continuation of SOCIOL 650, focusing on the interpretation, analysis, and presentation of quantitative data. Course exercises use descriptive statistics, cross-tabulation and regression analysis, as well as related inferential statistics, to analyze social data. Procedures for computer based statistical analyses are introduced and used throughout the course. No prior experience with computers or knowledge of statistical formulae are required. (Course offered in the spring only.) Prerequisite: SOCIOL 650 or permission of instructor.

SOCIOL 652:  Advanced Quantitative Methods
This course will build off of the material covered in the prerequisite course SOCIOL 651 Quantitative Data Analysis and to lesser extent SOCIOL 650 Research Design and Data Collection. In addition to reviewing multiple regression and various regression diagnostic techniques, this course covers factor analysis, regression approaches appropriate for binary and count data outcomes, survival analysis, and hierarchical linear modeling. The primary goal of this course is to provide students with the capacity to both produce and understand research that utilizes these more advanced quantitative approaches. Consequently, there is a focus on both understanding the logic underlying these approaches, but also the mechanics of implementing these techniques. This class provides training in quantitative analyses that moves beyond the more basic techniques covered in the preceding course SOCIOL 651. The course begins with a review of multiple regression before spending the rest of the semester covering specialized regression techniques.

SOCIOL 655:  Evaluation Research
An advanced course in the theory and practice of evaluation of public policy and social service programs for social science students and practitioners. Basic knowledge of research methods is assumed, but relevant issues in research design and implementation are reviewed. General overview of evaluation theory and landmark evaluation studies. Analysis of commonly used evaluation models and of practical and political issues involved in design and implementation of evaluations. Design of an evaluation of a social agency program is required. Prerequisites: SOCIOL 650 or permission of instructor.

SOCIOL 660:  Survey Methodology
This is the introductory course for the Graduate Certificate in Survey Research. It introduces students to the principles of survey design that are the basis for standard practices in the field. The goal is to provide conceptual tools and practical tools that will enable students to design and implement survey data collection and to evaluate surveys conducted by others. From political polls to surveys about such topics as health, religious sentiments, quality of life, and attitudes toward immigrants, survey research informs popular discussion, political decisions and academic discourse. The importance of survey research is reflected in the large number of government agencies, private organizations, and academic units that are devoted to and, to a large extent, rely on survey research. There is an increasing need for skilled survey practitioners and methodologists, there are few academic training programs to meet this demand. In addition to sociology, a wide range of disciplines (e.g., marketing, nutrition, public health, political science, educational psychology, gerontology, criminal justice, urban planning, environmental studies, communications, economics, and public policy) use survey methodology.  

SOCIOL 661:  Survey Questions
There are two kinds of error in survey estimates: error because the characteristics of the sample from whom data were collected do not mirror the population as a whole and error due to the fact that the answers to the survey questions are not good measures of the constructs the survey is trying to estimate. This course is devoted to the science of how to design and evaluate survey questions to maximize the chances that they will provide valid measurement. One core part of the course is for students to learn what is known about how the characteristics of questions affect the likely validity of the resulting data.  However, in addition to knowing the science behind question design, they also need to know how to evaluate questions to know how well they meet the standards that we set for them. Question evaluations can be done prior to the implementation of a survey to identify problems with the design of questions. They can also be done after data are collected to assess the likelihood that the answers are valid measures of the constructs they are intended to measure.

SOCIOL 662:  Applied Sampling
This course is designed to teach students the principles of probability sampling for general populations. It will teach them about the various types of sampling methods including simple random, stratified, cluster and probability proportionate to size. It will help them to understand when certain methods are preferable and how adding complexity to a sample design can affect data analysis. Topics will also include developing survey weights and analyzing data from complex samples.

SOCIOL 667:  Sociology of Law
A general analysis of the social origins and consequences of law and legal process; special emphasis on law as a method of conflict resolution and as a social control structure, and on law and social change. Attention also given to law in other societies, including non-literate societies, to the evolution and development of legal structures, and to patterns of due process and criminal law.

SOCIOL 668:  The Life Course Paradigm
Although the foundations of a life-course approach to studying human development emerged nearly a century ago, this approach has gained new prominence in the social sciences within the last 30 years with some arguing that a life course approach should become the organizing paradigm for the future. The life course paradigm brings attention to 3 key themes: the importance of studying development across all stages of the life course – childhood, adolescence, and adulthood; the intersection of human lives and social structure; and the importance of socio-historical contextual influences on life course trajectories. This course will be an elective for graduate students who are interested in studying individual developmental trajectories across the entire life span. The life course paradigm is inherently interdisciplinary in nature; because of this, the primary goal of this seminar will be to provide a core foundation of life course themes where students can then apply these general themes to specific areas of interest that align with the PhD program areas of concentration (i.e., communities and crime, health/mental health, immigration and globalization).  

SOCIOL 681:  Health Care Policy
This course focuses on recent changes in health care policy and in the organization of medicine with special attention to the impact of these changes on the delivery, distribution, and quality of health services. Additional emphasis is given to the history of medicine; the political economy of health care; inequality in utilization of and access to health services; rising costs and cost containment programs; attempts at regulation; and government health programs and private health service organizations.

SOCIOL 682:  Social Psychological Context of Health Care
This course highlights the role of the social sciences in dealing with problems of health care practice, focusing on research contributions to health maintenance, prevention, treatment, and quality of care. Topics include the nature and goals of client-practitioner relationships, health education, behavioral and psychosomatic medicine, and the linkages between social problems and medical problems.

SOCIOL 683:  Socio-Medical Aspects of Aging
This course focuses on several issues: the epidemiology of health problems associated with aging; social support systems for the elderly; stress and health; medical and psychiatric treatment of the aged; comparative analysis of health care settings; characteristics of the dying process; cross-societal comparison of the medical problems and the medical care of the elderly.

SOCIOL 690:  Classic and Contemporary Views of the Nature of Crime
This course examines the social nature of crime. It explores a variety of theoretical perspectives, including anomie/strain theory, social disorganization theory, social control theory, social learning theories, opportunity theory, deterrence theory, and conflict theory. The various theories are examined through an extensive review of recent empirical studies. Special attention is given to methodological problems in specifying theories for empirical study. Discussion topics also include the adaptability of these theories to social policy and their varying political and social acceptability during particular historical periods.

SOCIOL 691:  Contemporary Issues in Responding to Crime
This course focuses on responses to crime. As individual citizens and as a community, we respond to crime in a variety of ways. The issues covered in this course may therefore include anything from informal responses to crime--such as fear of crime, the reporting of crime to the police, and the organizing of neighborhood watch groups and crime stopper programs--to formal responses, which include police decisions to arrest or handle informally, bail decisions, issues of sentencing, the use of imprisonment, community corrections, parole and probation, and the death penalty. The course emphasizes the social nature of responses to crime, and generally focuses on one or a few of these topics each semester. 

SOCIOL 692:  Communities and Crime
Communities and crime is one of the program’s main areas of specialization, and this course is one of the electives within this specialization. The main goals of the course are to give students an overview of the major theoretical perspectives on the influence of community on crime and responses to crime, including the intellectual growth of these ideas, and methodological approaches to researching these ideas. The course will give PhD students a grounding in classical and contemporary work on communities and crime, which will prepare them to make their own contributions to this research, either in an academic or applied (nonprofit, governmental) setting. 

SOCIOL 694:  Master's Research Seminar
This course will guide students in their design and completion of the Masters paper in the Graduate Program in Applied Sociology. The course operates as an intellectual workshop in which students share the process as well as the results of their research with the group throughout the semester. Special attention is paid to research questions, social theory, research methods, literature reviews and presentation of findings.

SOCIOL 696:  Independent Study
In-depth study of a particular topic according to the student's interests. Independent study projects are expected to make an important contribution to a student's training in applied sociology. All projects are under the supervision of a faculty advisor, who is responsible for guiding and evaluating the student's work. An application and detailed proposal must be submitted to the graduate program director not later than two weeks before the end of the semester previous to that in which SOCIOL 696 is to be taken. Click here to download form. Prerequisites: Graduate standing and permission of the graduate committee. Hours by arrangement.

SOCIOL 697:  Special Topics in Applied Sociology
An advanced seminar on selected topics in applied sociology. The course content and credit varies according to topic. Details on special topics courses will be announced during the advance registration period. Prerequisite: Graduate standing or permission of instructor.

SOCIOL 698:  Field Work
Intensive field work and/or internship in a public or private research or practice setting jointly supervised by faculty and agency-based staff. Placements made according to student interest and internship availability. Prerequisite: Graduate standing or permission of instructor.

SOCIOL 699:  Thesis Research in Applied Sociology
Supervised thesis research open to students who elect the thesis option. The research is conducted under the supervision of a faculty committee consisting of a primary faculty advisor and two additional faculty members, who are responsible for advising the student in preparing and carrying out the thesis project and for evaluating and judging its acceptability. Prerequisite: Permission of the graduate program director and committee.

SOCIOL 897:  Dissertation Seminar
Preparation for dissertation project, including review of advanced research methods and identification of suitable research questions and research designs. Prerequisite: Permission of the graduate program director and committee.

SOCIOL 899:  Dissertation Research
Supervised thesis research open to students who have been admitted to doctoral candidacy and have completed the dissertation seminar. The research is conducted under the supervision of a faculty committee consisting of a primary faculty advisor and two additional faculty members, who are responsible for advising the student in preparing and carrying out the thesis project and for evaluating and judging its acceptability. Prerequisite: Permission of the graduate program director and committee.