The mission of the PhD program is to train doctoral students to become effective scholars and practitioners in sociology by building: (a) a comprehensive understanding of sociological theory, statistics, methods and selected specialization areas; and (b) professional competency in sociological research, instruction, and engagement. We primarily specialize in training students in the following sociological areas:
Crime, Law, and Deviance: Faculty in this area engage in sociologically informed research on crime-related issues, such as juvenile delinquency, international criminology, gun control, human trafficking, prisoner re-entry, recidivism, substance use, and violence against women. They serve in leadership roles in related professional organizations, including the American Sociological Society, the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, and the American Society of Criminology. Faculty working in this area are: Christopher Huggins, Tony Love, Carrie Oser, Claire M. Renzetti, and Janet Stamatel.
Environment and Society: Scholars in this area focus on the relationship between social systems and the ecosphere, with a focus on anthropogenic causes of environmental change, the social construction of environmental problems, and social movements related to environmental justice. Our department has a particular strength in research and service to rural and natural resource-dependent communities, especially agricultural, forested, and mining (post-mining) communities in Kentucky and Appalachia. Faculty working in this area are: Patrick Mooney, Shaunna Scott, Keiko Tanaka, and Julie N. Zimmerman.
Health and Medical Sociology: Faculty in health and medical sociology conduct research on health disparities, medicalization, stigma, stress processes, HIV risk behaviors and intervention, and substance abuse. They serve in leadership roles in the American Sociological Association's sections on Disability and Society, Mental Health, Aging and the Life Course, and Alcohol, Drugs, and Tobacco. Our program offers a number of courses in this area, including the social determinants of health, gender and mental health, illness and disability, and dependency behavior. Faculty working in this area are: Anthony R. Bardo, Robyn Brown, Ana S. Q. Liberato, Mairead Eastin Moloney, and Carrie Oser.
Social Inequalities: All our faculty conduct research on some area of inequality. We examine disparities related to race, social class, gender, sexuality and disability in institutions such as healthcare, criminal justice, family, and education. The department has a long tradition of research on inequalities of geographic location and the environment, especially among rural populations. Faculty working in this area are: Anthony R. Bardo, Robyn Brown, Jordan Brown, Christopher Huggins, Thomas Janoski, Ana S. Q. Liberato, Tony Love, Mairead Eastin Moloney, Patrick Mooney, Edward Morris, Carrie Oser, Claire M. Renzetti, Shaunna Scott, Janet Stamatel, Keiko Tanaka, Mohammad Zannoun, and Julie N. Zimmerman.
Our students are actively engaged in research projects with faculty from the Department of Sociology, as well as others in the Colleges of Arts & Sciences, Agriculture, Education, and Medicine. They publish frequently in high-quality journals, present at national and international conferences, work in applied research fields, and teach a broad range of sociology courses. Our students have been very successful on both the academic and non-academic job markets.