Sociology PhD

The mission of the PhD Program in Sociology at South Dakota State University is to prepare students for careers in collegiate teaching, basic research, and applied sociology.   


·Students receive intensive and extensive classroom and practical training in teaching in-class and online courses at the college/university level. 

·Students receive intensive and extensive classroom and practical training in applied and public sociology.

· Students acquire the skills to engage in the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL), so they can determine the extent to which their instruction makes a difference in their students’ academic development.   

·Students receive a solid grounding in the core areas of sociological theory and both qualitative and quantitative research methods. 

·Students develop research and practice and/or teaching expertise in a sociological emphasis area.


The program offers three areas of Concentration: 


Students in this concentration can focus solely on Population Studies, which provides students with opportunity for applied sociological practice. Students will experience application of theory and method to “real world” local, national, or international issues. Coursework in the program offers a robust exploration of
both theory and method to address demographic sociological issues.   

Community and Environment:

The Community and Environment Concentration is designed for students interested in applied sociology related to community, rural development, and environmental sociology contexts. The sociology of community and environmental issues is inextricably linked, going back to the advent of rural and natural resource sociology over 100 years ago.   

Social Justice: 

This concentration focuses on helping students develop a critical understanding of the sources and implications of forms of inequality by examination of various theoretical approaches to understanding inequalities and intersectionality with emphasis on the importance of studying diverse cultures and building
sociological practice that embodies inclusive practices. Students will also have the opportunity to study current approaches to understanding how inequality is embedded in economic, justice, and social institutions and systems which result in different outcomes for diverse populations. Students focusing on this  concentration will develop research questions and research designs to address these issues, conduct research, and participate in related projects. These projects address injustice, inclusion, and inequality or involve preparing course materials that critically address injustice, inclusion, and inequality. 


Why Study Sociology at South Dakota State University

Mentoring and collaboration with faculty

We have good faculty-student ratios; this means that professors have more time to work independently with students. And mentoring matters to us. We help students adapt to the demands of graduate education, assist them make the transition to independent careers, and collaborate with them on mutually beneficial scholarly projects. 

Emphasis on both quantitative and qualitative research

All of our graduate students gain an expertise in the use of quantitative and qualitative methods.

Hands-on experience

We stress hands-on experience and the practical application of sociological knowledge. We integrate this philosophy into many of our classes. The Rural Life and Census Data Center is a conduit for much of this valuable experience.

Rural Life and Census Data Center (RLCDC)

Rural Life and Census Data Center publications feature case studies, analyses of trends, and hard facts and figures that community leaders use to conduct business, manage the delivery of public services, and assess public policy. Graduate students, working with RLCDC staff, co-author some of these reports.

Research on public issues

Recently, our graduate students have completed theses and dissertations on a number of important topics:

  • Academic Achievement of American Indian University Students
  • Accounts Used by Shopliftersgraduate students 2
  • All-Volunteer Armed Forces
  • American Indian Families and Resiliency
  • Asset-Based Community Development
  • Attitudes Towards Abortion
  • Character Education
  • Commitment to Distance Learning Technology
  • Credit Card Debt
  • Dakota (American Indian) Men and Volunteer Military Service
  • Democratic Development in Less Developed Countries
  • Diffusion of Internet Technology
  • Elder Abuse
  • Extremist Groups in the Midwest
  • Girl Scout Volunteer Leader Identities and Retention
  • Factors Contributing to the Growth of Small Towns
  • Farmers' Wetland Practices
  • Farm Operators and Off-Farm Employment
  • Fathers and Their Children's Health
  • Hutterites: Self-Sufficiency, Boundary Controls, and Retention
  • International Students' Sociocultural Adaptation
  • Neighborhood Characteristics and Crime
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Powwow Drum Singers
  • Role Changes Experienced by Aging Penitentiary Inmates
  • Rural Community Attachment
  • Rural Masculinity and Homosexuality in the U.S. and France
  • Rural Migration
  • Rural Poverty
  • Sense of Threat and Opposition to Immigrants and Immigration Policies
  • State University and Tribal College Collaboration
  • Stepmother Identities and Distress
  • Stepmother-Stepchild Relations
  • The Alienated American Voter
  • Transgendered Identities
  • Transition to Assisted Living
  • Use of Genetically Modified Organisms
  • Unwanted Pursuit Behaviors
  • Volunteer Police Officers
  • Wives' Involvement in Farm Decision Making

Additional Information

The PhD program is detailed in A Guidebook to the PhD Program in Sociology. You can also learn more about the program on the university academic catalog. Information on graduate assistantships is also available. We also provide a study guide for PhD students nearing the end of their program; this guide helps structure the studying for comprehensive exams.

Procedures for Preliminary Doctoral Exams in Sociology

Preliminary Exam Study Guides

For more information about the graduate program contact Meredith Redlin, the Graduate Program Coordinator (605.688.4084).