Doctoral Studies in Sociology

Specializing in the Sociology of Age & The Life Course, Medical Sociology, and Research Methods

Graduate Program Mission Statement

At Case Western Reserve University, doctoral study in sociology is focused on three areas of inquiry:  the sociology of age and the life course; medical sociology; and research methods.  Within these areas, students may focus on a wide range of specific topics, such as stress and coping, health disparities, the social construction of diagnosis and disease, and the interaction of race, class, gender, age and other factors as sources of social inequality.  Graduate training includes a wide array of advanced quantitative, qualitative, action, and other techniques taught through courses and one-on-one mentors hip.  Students learn to integrate theory and methods and to apply them to specific substantive issues, which can range from health practices of individuals to institutional care and reform to international phenomena.  

Our doctoral students pursue their education in an intellectually rigorous environment that is informal and friendly.  Study at CWRU provides exceptional opportunities for mentoring and close working relationships with faculty.  These opportunities include meaningful hands-on involvement in research projects such as managing data collection, preparing grant applications for research funding, presenting papers at national and international meetings, and writing and publishing collaboratively with faculty. 

As part of their research apprenticeships, students have the opportunity to participate in a range of empirical projects, including some that are supported by the National Institutes of Health.  Our students also have opportunities to work with researchers in other schools, including the School of Medicine, the School of Law, Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, and the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences.

Admissions Standards

The admissions application deadline for each academic year is February 1. In reviewing applicants for doctoral study, the Department of Sociology of Case Western Reserve University gives priority to students with demonstrated academic capability and motivation, and with substantive interests that fit well with the strengths of the Department. Consequently, we do not apply fixed criteria, but review the application in its entirety. We weigh heavily the statement of interest, sample of written work and substantive comments in letters of recommendation, as well as grades and GRE scores. Thus, we place strong emphasis on academic interest and program fit as well as academic potential. Click here to apply online.

Manner in Which the Program Addresses the Needs of the State/Region


The Department's foci on the sociology of age and the life course, medical sociology, and research methods  fit well with Cleveland's strength as a provider of health care and leader in medical education, research and clinical practice.  Several faculty members have joint appointments and/or collaborative enterprises with researchers in the School of Medicine and the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, as well as collaborations with local and regional community agencies and other human service organizations.  Some medical and nursing faculty members also have joint appointments in sociology. The research of faculty members bears upon practical questions of health and wellness, as well as questions of basic research and theory development.


We educate students from across the world. The required curriculum includes areas of medicine, the sociology of age and the life course, and research methods.  Students also have opportunities for advanced training in other areas, including the sociology of law and policy analysis.  One aspect of teaching that benefits people living in Ohio is that some of our Ph.D. graduates are now on the faculty of other Ohio universities and colleges.


Our faculty members contribute in a number of ways to their local communities, to the region, and to the state. Some faculty members serve on boards of local and regional nonprofit agencies, some have participated in setting test levels for Ohio Proficiency Exams, and some advise nongovernment and government agencies that indirectly and directly benefit Cleveland and Ohio.

Placement Objectives for Graduates

We aim to place our Ph.D. students at research universities, liberal arts colleges, and government and market positions, as well as with postdoctoral fellowships.

Faculty Research

Age and the Life Course

  • Stress, trauma, proactivity, and well-being in late life
  • Cumulative dis/advantage and inequality over the life course
  • Inequality in retirement and the end of the work career
  • Interplay between work and family
  • Care-getting and caregiving during the final years of life

Medicine and Health Cares

  • Race, class, and gender influences on physician decision-making
  • Social construction of diseases and diagnoses
  • Health communication and health care advocacy
  • National and international health policy

Population and Individual Health

  • Neighborhood and community influences on health
  • Cancer survivorship
  • Health and mortality disparities over the life course
  • Disability trajectories in midlife and older adulthood

Social Inequality

  • Urban poverty and quality of life
  • Occupational sex segregation and the gendered pay gap
  • Race, class, gender issues for poor and working class families
  • Theory and ideology in medicine and science

Public Policy and Community Action

  • International children's rights
  • Law and social policy
  • Action research and reform in long term care institutions
  • Individual, institutional, and global responses to inequality

Specialties Offered

  • Sociology of Age and the Life Course
  • Medical Sociology
  • Research Methods

Articles of Interest

Moments in the History of Gerontology
Gerontology at Case Western Reserve University: A History of Pioneering Scholarship
Published Spring 2005 in Contemporary Gerontology

Financial Aid

Financial assistance is available in the form of university tuition waivers, research assistantships, and student employment on research grants.

Further Information

For additional information, please contact:

Jessica Kelley-Moore
Associate Professor                                                                          

Director, Graduate Program in Sociology       

Department of Sociology                                                                   
230 Mather Memorial Bldg.                     
Phone: (216) 368-8879                                                   

Timothy Black
Associate Professor                                                                          

Co-Director, Graduate Program in Sociology       

Department of Sociology                                                                   
223C Mather Memorial Bldg.                     
Phone: (216) 368-2697                                                

Case Western Reserve University
10900 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44106-7124
Phone (216) 368-2700
Fax (216) 368-2676

Graduate Studies Website:

Apply online using this link and send all other application materials to:

Michelle Rizzuto
Department of Sociology
Case Western Reserve University
10900 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44106

Materials needed to complete you application include:

-Current CV
-Writing Sample(s)
-Objective Statement
-Official GRE Scores
-Official Transcripts (need to arrive in a sealed envelope with the sending institutions official stamp) 
-Three letters of recommendation (completed online through the application process)

Ohio Board of Regents Review

Last Program Review: October 2008
Date of Next Scheduled Complete Review: August 2016
Date of Program Goals/Objectives Revised: N/A