Sociology is the study of society, of the social frameworks within which we live our lives. It is a study of social life at every level, from two-person relationships to the rise and fall of nations and civilizations. Sociology nurtures question formation and critical thinking through its mixed-methods approach, encompassing quantitative analysis, ethnography, interviews, historical and comparative studies, computer-based analysis, and theoretical explorations. Through their methodologically diverse coursework, students learn how to apply sociological theories and methods to real-world issues.
Sociologists are often concerned with intellectual questions relating to the distribution of resources in society and to social organization. The graduate program in sociology aims to contribute to society by providing students the training and tools to take up these questions. The program aims to produce creative and intellectually independent researchers who read broadly across fields, who generate work that is theoretically, empirically, and analytically rigorous, who exhibit collegiality as scholars, and who excel as teachers and communicators.
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Harvard Kenneth E. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences offers a comprehensive program of financial support, including grants and fellowships from internal and external sources, traineeships, teaching fellowships, research assistantships, and other academic employment opportunities.
For PhD students, Harvard awards full financial support for five years, typically for the first four years of study as well as the completion year. Ordinarily, in cases where the length of PhD study extends beyond five years, students secure financial support through various Harvard and non-Harvard opportunities, including research fellowships, research assistantships, and teaching fellowships.
All incoming students receive a merit-based award, regardless of need. This includes a fellowship for tuition and health fees, as well as a stipend for living expenses, for up to five years. Unlike at many other institutions, students at Harvard have no teaching responsibilities during the first two years of graduate study. In addition, Harvard’s standard funding package includes Summer Research Awards for the first four years.
Students who experience extreme financial hardship as the result of an emergency may apply to the Office of Financial Aid for funding . Download the application here . Qualified expenses include but are not limited to costs associated with:
- Medical or dental emergencies
- Family emergencies
- Natural disasters
- Residential fires or floods
Parental Accommodation and Financial Support
Students of any gender enrolled in PhD programs at Harvard Griffin GSAS are eligible for the Parental Accommodation and Financial Support (PAFS) program following a childbirth or adoption event. Eligible Harvard Griffin GSAS PhD students receive a one-time supplemental stipend payment. This funding is intended to help with the additional expenses associated with a childbirth or adoption event. For the 2022-2023 academic year, the award amount is $7,158. At least four months in advance of the anticipated birth or adoption event, students must meet with PAFS coordinator Lisa Simpson, GSAS assistant director of financial aid and senior admissions officer, to review guidelines, benefits, and student-specific coordination of the program. To set up an appointment, email [email protected] .
Teaching Fellows assist in courses under the supervision of course heads, who hold formal teaching appointments. Duties may include teaching sections, conducting tutorials, recommending grades, supervising independent study projects, and monitoring students’ progress toward their degrees.
To qualify for stipends during their third and fourth years of graduate study, graduate students in Sociology ordinarily need to offer two sections of a standard lecture course each semester (a section is a once-weekly meeting of, ordinarily, fewer than twenty undergraduate students).
You can choose to defer your G3 and G4 teaching guarantee, allowing you to begin your fieldwork earlier, while still preserving your teaching guarantee for later use. You would have the same priority for teaching appointments as G3s and G4s if you notify Harvard Griffin GSAS Financial Aid in advance. If you defer your teaching guarantee in G3 and/or G4, you may be eligible for a top-up that will ensure that you receive stipend support equal to that received in G1 and G2.
You may combine teaching with RA work (note: all graduate students are permitted to work up to 20 hours per week when classes are in session). Students with fellowships should check with their Financial Aid Officer regarding work restrictions.
Over the course of their PhD studies at Harvard, many graduate students in Sociology work as Research Assistants. Such assistantships often carry financial support and are arranged with individual faculty.
You may combine RA work with teaching (note: all graduate students are permitted to work up to 20 hours per week when classes are in session). Students with fellowships should check with their Financial Aid Officer regarding work restrictions.
Other Sources of Funding
Please visit t his page for information about additional funding sources.
While the standard funding package is guaranteed, we encourage students to apply for external funding from various sources. Students in the Sociology PhD program have been awarded fellowships from many organizations, including:
- Ford Foundation Diversity Fellowships
- National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships
- Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans
The Harvard Griffin G SAS Fellowships and Writing Office provides a range of services to assist graduate students in their search for fellowship funding, including individual counseling and professional development seminars. Additional information about possible fellowships can be found in the CARAT database ( https://carat.fas.harvard.edu/ ), formerly the Graduate Guide to Grants.
- Graduate student
- Doctoral candidates at early stage, supporting course work and/or preliminary dissertation research
- Doctoral candidates at dissertation research stage
- Doctoral candidates at dissertation write-up stage; and
- Stage (not specified; may include master's candidates)
Harvard Griffin GSAS also lists opportunities broken down by these fellowship categories:
- Fellowships for the Early Years in Graduate School
- Summer, Research, and Travel Fellowships
- Dissertation Completion Fellowships
For a comprehensive search for outside support, you can search Pivot (formerly Community of Science) at https://pivot.proquest.com/session/login ; read the FAS Research Guide to Pivot for instructions.
These universities have their own funding databases:
- New York University Grants in Graduate Studies
- University of Chicago Fellowships Database
- UCLA Fellowships Database
Students are encouraged to work with their faculty members to identify appropriate sources of funding for their unique research interests.
Another surprisingly effective approach is to Google CVs of scholars that you admire to obtain past funding sources.
Feel free to reach out to our alumni , who have received numerous fellowships and grants during their graduate careers.
Graduate Student Affiliates/Associates
A number of funding and networking opportunities are available to Harvard graduate students who affiliate with Harvard's many research centers and programs: Asia Center Center for American Political Studies (CAPS) Center on the Developing Child Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics Ethics Pedagogy Fellows Fund for Research on the Foundations of Human Behavior Harvard Mellon Urban Initiative Institute for Quantitative Social Science (IQSS) Joint Center for Housing Studies Korea Institute Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality and Social Policy Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston Public Policy Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies South Asia Institute Tobin Project Weatherhead Center for International Affairs
To date, twenty-four graduate students have participated in an intensive two-week workshop on Geographical Information Systems (GIS) at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science (IQSS). Students who are accepted to the Winter or Summer session should contact Jessica Matteson at [email protected] to arrange for the payment of the $100 student fee.
Departmental Travel Grants
The Department of Sociology has limited funding available to graduate students in the department who will be presenting their research at an academic conference. Students are eligible to receive up to $400 per fiscal year (July 1 - June 30) in travel grants. These awards are intended to defray the costs of graduate student conference travel; they are not reimbursements for all expenses related to such trips. Additional information about these grants, including information on how to apply, can be found on our Graduate Student Travel Funding .
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- Sociology Courses 2023-24
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Office Hours (Fall 2023) Monday, 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. (remote) Tuesday, 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. (on campus) Wednesday, 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. (on campus) Thursday, 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. (remote) Friday, 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. (remote)
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Students in our PhD programs are encouraged from day one to think of this experience as their first job in business academia—a training ground for a challenging and rewarding career generating rigorous, relevant research that influences practice.
Our doctoral students work with faculty and access resources throughout HBS and Harvard University. The PhD program curriculum requires coursework at HBS and other Harvard discipline departments, and with HBS and Harvard faculty on advisory committees. Faculty throughout Harvard guide the programs through their participation on advisory committees.
How do I know which program is right for me?
There are many paths, but we are one HBS. Our PhD students draw on diverse personal and professional backgrounds to pursue an ever-expanding range of research topics. Explore more here about each program’s requirements & curriculum, read student profiles for each discipline as well as student research , and placement information.
The PhD in Business Administration grounds students in the disciplinary theories and research methods that form the foundation of an academic career. Jointly administered by HBS and GSAS, the program has five areas of study: Accounting and Management , Management , Marketing , Strategy , and Technology and Operations Management . All areas of study involve roughly two years of coursework culminating in a field exam. The remaining years of the program are spent conducting independent research, working on co-authored publications, and writing the dissertation. Students join these programs from a wide range of backgrounds, from consulting to engineering. Many applicants possess liberal arts degrees, as there is not a requirement to possess a business degree before joining the program
The PhD in Business Economics provides students the opportunity to study in both Harvard’s world-class Economics Department and Harvard Business School. Throughout the program, coursework includes exploration of microeconomic theory, macroeconomic theory, probability and statistics, and econometrics. While some students join the Business Economics program directly from undergraduate or masters programs, others have worked in economic consulting firms or as research assistants at universities or intergovernmental organizations.
The PhD program in Health Policy (Management) is rooted in data-driven research on the managerial, operational, and strategic issues facing a wide range of organizations. Coursework includes the study of microeconomic theory, management, research methods, and statistics. The backgrounds of students in this program are quite varied, with some coming from public health or the healthcare industry, while others arrive at the program with a background in disciplinary research
The PhD program in Organizational Behavior offers two tracks: either a micro or macro approach. In the micro track, students focus on the study of interpersonal relationships within organizations and the effects that groups have on individuals. Students in the macro track use sociological methods to examine organizations, groups, and markets as a whole, including topics such as the influence of individuals on organizational change, or the relationship between social missions and financial objectives. Jointly administered by HBS and GSAS, the program includes core disciplinary training in sociology or psychology, as well as additional coursework in organizational behavior.
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Business economics , health policy (management) , management , marketing , organizational behavior , strategy , technology & operations management .
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The full doctoral student experience at Harvard is not just about outstanding academics. It’s also about the community you build, the connections you make, and the many ways for you to grow academically, professionally, and personally.
There are many student organizations and opportunities for you to make your doctoral program experience truly your own—and resources to support you along the way.
As a “discipline-plus” program, Social Policy (SPOL) PhD students will take the bulk of their courses within their disciplinary departmental homes, therefore forming strong connections to the political science and sociology communities at Harvard, including with other PhD students in the Government and Sociology Departments.
Because students enroll in the Proseminar on Inequality and Social Policy starting in G2 year and many go on to regularly attend the weekly workshops at HKS, SPOL PhD students will also benefit from the strong community of scholars and practitioners at HKS—a community that includes other PhD students focusing on public policy and applied social science research.
Finally, SPOL PhD students become affiliates of the Multidisciplinary Program on Inequality and Social Policy , which hosts the Inequality & Social Policy Seminar Series and features other funding opportunities for students interested in inequality, wealth distribution, and social policy.
Additionally, SPOL students have access to all of the resources and student groups at the Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (Harvard Griffin GSAS). Those below are just a few:
Sociology Graduate Student Organization
The Graduate Student Organization within the Sociology Department is a student-run organization that focuses on social events and specific programs based on student need.
Engage offers a platform for graduate student groups to promote their organization and their events. You can search by topic or affinity group.
Diversity at Harvard
Harvard Griffin GSAS and Harvard is a community of students and scholars who represent different races, ethnicities, belief systems, nationalities, genders, and sexual orientations. There are student affinity groups and resources at Harvard Griffin GSAS and HKS alike that provide opportunities for you to become part of communities and help you thrive academically, develop professionally, and grow personally during your time at Harvard.
Supporting the Whole You
Harvard Griffin GSAS and Harvard provide a range of resources to support your academic, physical, social, and mental well-being as you pursue your doctoral research. Several professional development programs are also available to prepare you for each step as you work toward your doctoral degree.
Among the Harvard Griffin GSAS resources include those that are academically focused, particularly the Academic Resource Center and the Fellowships and Writing Center . But they also include family-minded resources such as the Harvard Student Spouses and Partners Association and Care.com as well as those focused on your mental health and wellbeing .
Read about the support programs available at Harvard Griffin GSAS and HKS during your time at Harvard.
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Phd in social policy.
The PhD programs in Social Policy award either a PhD in Government and Social Policy or a PhD in Sociology and Social Policy. This is a joint PhD program for students who wish to combine the full disciplinary depth of a doctoral degree in political science or sociology with multidisciplinary study of issues of Social Policy.
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Cybelle Fox, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley.
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Medical sociology, malcolm williams.
Dissertation Title： "Individual, Clinical, and Contextual Factors Affecting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care Quality"... Read more about Malcolm Williams
Dissertation Title： "Quality of Life, Health-Related Stigma, and The Social Context: Longitudinal Analyses of PLWHA in Uganda and a Literature Review"... Read more about Sae Takada
Dissertation Title： "Toward a Better Understanding of HIV Risk among Young South Africans: Risk Perceptions and the Risk of Concurrent Sexual Partnerships"... Read more about Annie Steffenson
Dissertation Title： "Gender and Health: The Influence of Psychosocial Factors on Health"... Read more about Emily Shortridge
Dissertation Title: "Essays on Health Care Quality and Access: Cancer Care Disparities, Composite Measure Development, and Geographic Variations in Electronic Health Record Adoption"... Read more about Cleo Samuel-Ryals
Dissertation Title： "Continuity and Team Approaches to Care: Effects on Physician-Patient Relationship Quality, Patients’ Experiences, and the Technical Quality of Care"... Read more about Hector Rodriguez
Rebecca Anhang Price
Dissertation Title： "Adoption of New Medical Technologies: The Case of Cervical Cancer Prevention"... Read more about Rebecca Anhang Price
Dissertation Title： "Conducting Social Network and Social Norm Research in Low-Resource Settings: Food Insecutiry, Depression, and HIV Testing in Rural Uganda"... Read more about Jessica Perkins
Dissertation Title ："Medicare Beneficiaries and Market Variations in Service Use, Quality of Care, and Plan Choice"... Read more about Jessica Mittler
Dissertation Title: "Investigating Socioeconomic Disparities in Patient Experiences of Infertility in the US"... Read more about Mihan Lee
Dissertation Title: "Social Networks and Health: From Epidemiology to Intervention"... Read more about David Kim
Dissertation Title: "End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD): Factors Affecting Patient's Treatment and Care Assessments"... Read more about Cara James
Dissertation Title: "Social Ties and Health: An Analysis of Patient-Doctor Trust and Network-Based Public Health Interventions Through Randomized Experiments and Simulations"... Read more about Alison Hwong
Rachel Mosher Henke
Dissertation Title: "Quality Improvement for Depression: Organizational and Provider Factors"... Read more about Rachel Mosher Henke
Dissertation Title: "Chronic Illness, Depression, and the Patient-Provider Relationship: Toward a Model of Biopsychosocial Care"... Read more about Carrie Farmer
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Modeling How Species Speak
Gašper Beguš, PhD '18
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Gašper Beguš is an assistant professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of California (UC), Berkeley, where he directs the Berkeley Speech and Computation Lab. He talks about how he and his colleagues gain insights into machine, human, and animal language learning; how his training as a historical linguist informs his current work on artificial intelligence (AI); and his time at Harvard as a Mather House residential tutor.
Building Baby Learners
In our lab, we try to understand what is uniquely human about our language and how we can use that knowledge to better understand how artificial intelligence learns. Scientists have a relatively good understanding of what language is, how we learn it, and, to some degree, how our brain behaves when we communicate. We know much less about how AI learns.
We approach the task of understanding AI by building machines that learn more like humans do. Large language models are usually trained on massive amounts of text. Human babies, however, don’t learn from text; they learn from hearing spoken language and trying to imitate it. We created an AI baby language learner that learns by producing and listening to raw sounds of human speech. They never see text or labels. We even gave them representations of the human mouth and tongue so they need to learn to speak similarly to humans, limited by these representations of articulators. This might be the closest approximation of a human language learner using AI technology.
By using this artificial baby language learner, we can show that the stages and steps in language acquisition are very similar in humans and machines. We can also scan human brains and compare how, at the neural level, humans and artificial neural networks process language in similar and different ways. Our lab was the first to show that brain responses to speech are highly similar to machine responses in raw unchanged form. Understanding how machines are similar and where they differ from humans is crucial for effective regulation of AI.
We also developed techniques to understand how AI learns. This allows us to find patterns in data that we do not know a lot about. Human researchers are always biased by our biology. AI models, together with the interpretability techniques that we’re developing in the lab, can provide tools for finding patterns that we would have missed as biased humans.
One of the best testing grounds for this approach is animal communication systems, such as that of sperm whales. Sperm whales are an amazing species with many similarities to humans—they have complex social structures, the largest brains of all animals, and culturally learned vocalizations. On the other hand, their worlds are vastly different from ours and there is much we do not know about them. They communicate through a series of clicks called codas. We have no idea what the meaningful units are in their communication. We train our model on sperm whale communication and then we look inside the AI models to get clues about what the clicks are and other meaningful units.
It is exciting to think that linguists don’t study only human language anymore. Perhaps it’s the first time in history that machines can learn language so well that they become relevant to linguistics as well. And we’re discovering that there exist many analogs to human language in various animal communication systems. Studying language, we now have to take animal and artificial intelligence seriously as well. I strongly believe we can learn a lot from both animals and machines.
The Language of Community
I studied historical linguistics during my PhD work at Harvard Griffin GSAS. Historical Indo-European linguistics is the study of what the mother of all Indo-European languages—which include Latin, Greek, Sanskrit, and Hittite—sounded like thousands of years ago. To learn how to reverse engineer the mother language, I needed to spend several years carefully studying their philologies. My field was far removed from AI on the surface, but the things I learned turned out to be invaluable for the work I do now.
The highlight of my time at Harvard was my service as a resident tutor in Mather House. My wife and I were there for four years, and it was such an uplifting community. We met so many brilliant people and worked with so many awesome students. Some of them went on to successful careers in machine learning and are now my colleagues. A lot of Harvard alumni come to the Bay Area. Sometimes we get together with the former tutors and students who live and work around here.
My wife and I loved the residential college life at Harvard so much that we didn’t wait long to join another such community. I serve as a college principal (the equivalent of faculty dean) of Bowles Hall Residential College. A funny fact is that our college was built one year before the Harvard Houses. We can claim we’re the oldest in the nation!
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New research from Yale Professor Kevin DeLuca, PhD '23, and colleagues proposes a new method of electoral redistricting that delivers fairer results and requires neither cooperation between members of the two major parties nor an independent arbiter to resolve disputes.
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Decades ago, Richard Evans Schultes, PhD '41, braved malaria and worse to study Indigenous medicine. Now, scientists want to finish what he started.
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New Study Finds Children’s Honesty Encouraged by Trust
- Posted February 26, 2024
- By News editor
- Human Development
- Moral, Civic, and Ethical Education
A new study by researchers from the University of Toronto, Hangzhou Normal University, and Harvard Graduate School of Education has found that simply expressing trust in young children can promote their honesty.
Published in Nature Human Behaviour , the study — conducted by HGSE Professor Paul Harris , Professor Kang Lee of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto, and Professor Li Zhao of Hangzhou Normal University — found novel insights into the development of trust and integrity in early childhood.
Conducted through a series of field experiments with 328 kindergarteners, the international research team studied whether children were less likely to cheat in a simple test of counting accuracy if the adult administering the test had previously conveyed trust in them. The results showed that when adults trusted children to help with small tasks, such as holding their house keys, and conveyed that they would trust them in the future, the children were significantly less likely to cheat on a subsequent test compared to children who were not given such trust messages.
“We were surprised by how powerful an effect a simple expression of trust had on children's subsequent honesty,” said Zhao. “It seems that even at a young age, children understand the value of trust and are willing to behave more honestly in response to feeling trusted by others.”
“These results challenge the assumption that young children are simply opportunistic or prone to dishonesty. Our research suggests they are acutely attuned to social cues of trust from a very young age,” said Lee. “While more work is needed, fostering an ethos of trust rather than distrust could be pivotal for supporting children's character development in their formative early years.”
Harris noted that the findings build on earlier research on trust in young children. “Previous studies have show that young children are quite selective in whom they trust for information and support,” he said. “The new results show that children are also receptive to another person’s trust in them."
The effects may stem from deeply rooted evolutionary adaptations, said Harris. “As a social species, establishing mutual trust would have conferred survival advantages for our distant ancestors. Children may be inclined from a young age to become trustworthy through behaviors such as reciprocity when others express trust in them.”
Not only do the findings have important theoretical implications, but they also offer practical guidance to empower parents and educators in cultivating moral character from an early age.
“Our results point to the promise of using trust — rather than threats or punishment — to nurture integrity in children,” said Zhao.
For more on the study:
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This spring, Harvard will open 24/7 study spaces for graduate students for the first time during reading period.
Mustafa I. Diwan, a student at the Harvard Divinity School and member of the Harvard Graduate Council’s advocacy committee, became the primary sponsor of the resolution after working on a midterm on a Friday night and realizing that the Harvard libraries didn’t stay open overnight on weekends.
“I went to Lamont Library assuming that I could stay there and work until 12 a.m. And then we had to leave,” Diwan said.
Diwan said that because of the “funny internet connection” at his home off campus, “it was difficult for me to finish that assignment.”
Diwan also said it was likely other graduate students are facing similar issues.
“Many students would appreciate having open study spaces and libraries because most graduate students don’t live on campus, and many have WiFi issues at home,” he said.
After Diwan proposed his initiative, the HGC passed a resolution to collaborate with the Harvard University librarians to keep specific libraries open all day for two designated weeks in the period leading up to graduate students’ finals season.
Curneisha Williams, chair of advocacy for the HGC, explained that libraries like Lamont already stay open 24/7 for undergraduate students, but their reading periods don’t overlap with Harvard’s graduate schools.
Williams spoke to the Harvard University librarians and said there had been pre-existing misunderstandings about reading period overlaps.
“When it’s time for us to take exams, it’s not open 24/7, and they just didn’t realize that,” Williams said.
“We collaborated with the Harvard University librarians and got a list of the reading periods for every graduate school, and now we want to to open the library spaces 24/7 for the two weekends of the graduate students’ reading periods that overlap,” Williams said.
Williams praised the librarians for being “very cooperative,” noting that the HGC planned to announce the change in study space access by the end of the month.
In particular, Williams pointed to the importance of library access for graduate students who often do not have timed exams.
“We don’t have a lot of in person tests; we have a lot of 15-page papers and group projects,” she said. “So, we need that time.”
Correction: February 22, 2024
A previous version of this article mispelled Mustafa Diwan’s first name.
—Staff writer Angelina J. Parker can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on X @ angelinajparker .
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