July/August 2010 Issue • Volume 38 • Issue 6

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Sociology Welcomes a New
Doctoral Program at Rice

Johanna Olexy, ASA Public Information Office

The main campus of Rice University.

Rice University is pleased to join the ranks of institutes with PhD-granting programs in sociology. With its first students matriculating in the fall of 2011, it will begin accepting applications in the fall of 2010 for its new sociology PhD program.

Funded by a multi-million-dollar gift, the Rice graduate program in sociology, like other fine programs, prepares students to be sociologists of the highest quality, able to conduct cutting-edge research and to teach with excellence. The Rice program offers concentrations in four broad substantive areas:

  1. Race, Ethnicity, and Migration,
  2. Population Health,
  3. Urban and Community, and
  4. Culture and Religion

These concentrations take advantage not only of the research expertise of the department’s faculty, but also of its location in the heart of Houston, a metro area now of about six million people. Last year alone, Houston added 141,000 new residents. Houston grows because it is adding jobs—more than 250,000 new jobs from 2000 to 2009. As the June 7, 2010, issue of Forbes magazine article said, "Houston, perhaps more than any city in the advanced industrial world, epitomizes the Rene Descartes ideal . . . of a great city offering ‘an inventory of the possible’ to longtime residents and newcomers alike." It is an exciting time to study in the city where urbanologist Joel Kotkin says "the outlines of the 21st century are already being created and exuberantly imagined."

Houston’s Resources

For example, located across the street from Rice is the world’s largest medical complex. It contains 49 medicine-related institutions, including two medical schools, 13 hospitals, and schools of public health, among others. It employs about 80,000 people. The department’s health researchers have established multiple connections with these institutions and have access to a wealth of data and research opportunities, which will greatly aid the studies of sociology graduate students interested in population health.

Houston is also racially and ethnically diverse. Neither the city nor the metro area has a majority racial group. With over 500,000 Asians, 1 million African Americans, two million Latinos and Anglos, and nearly a quarter of the population immigrants from other nations, the Houston region provides ample opportunity for ethnographies and testing hypotheses about race, ethnicity, and immigration. With nearly three-quarters of the Rice sociology faculty studying racial/ethnic disparities, inequalities, identities, and immigration flows, students will find a dynamic, collaborative environment for their studies.

Houston is also culturally and religiously diverse. From its long-standing, traditional "Tex-Mex" culture, to its expansive southern white and African American cultures, to its growing Cajun influences and its rapidly expanding creative class, to name a few, students will have much to explore. While Houston includes large numbers of Catholics and Protestants (including the nation’s largest congregation, Lakewood church), it is also home to large populations of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and a well-established and growing Jewish population. Combined with the racial diversity of the region and the large immigrant populations. This makes Houston a fascinating metropolitan area from which to study culture and religion.

The New PhD Program

Designed to be completed in five years, the graduate curriculum emphasizes a program centered on close working relationships between faculty and students, and mixed-methods training in both qualitative and quantitative techniques. To encourage this, the program is limited to four to five entering, fully-funded PhD students per year (including summer funding), selected for their potential to become successful professional sociologists.

"The Sociology Department has a tradition of faculty and undergraduate students working in close research collaborations, and that will become a core aspect of the graduate experience in the sociology PhD program," said Elizabeth Long, chair of the Sociology Department.

The department also offers PhD students the following resources:

"The PhD in sociology will add tremendous strength to the social sciences as a whole at Rice," said Lyn Ragsdale, Dean of the School of Social Sciences. "We are delighted to begin the program, and look forward to training students to excel as professional sociologists and contribute to knowledge production."

For an application or more information about the program, Rice University, and Houston, visit www.sociology.rice.edu.

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