Which Colleges Are Best For a Major in Sociology?

College Factual’s Top Ten Schools

College Factual, a clearinghouse of information about US colleges designed to help students select the best schools for their interests, produces annual rankings of best colleges by major. Their ranking system takes into account early and mid-career earnings of graduates, percentage of students at the school enrolled in the major (taken as a measure of how many resources the school devotes to that

major), percentage of students across the US enrolled in the major who attend the school (a sign of the school attracting students to the major), post-graduate resources, strength in related majors, accreditation, and overall school quality.

This is their 2014 list of the top ten schools for sociology.

1. University of California-Santa Barbara

The sociology department at UCSB is renowned for excellence in the study of gender, sexuality, race, globalization, and social movements. It is a large department with 31 full-time faculty members, a large roster of Ph.D. students, and strong connections to related departments including Feminist Studies, Black Studies, Global Studies, and [email protected] Studies. Students majoring in sociology complete a wide-ranging selection of courses in the liberal arts, and are trained in sociological theories and methods. Some courses focus on community research and participation, giving students hands-on, real world experience in conducting research and facilitating

social change. (Full disclosure: the Sociology Expert earned her Masters and Ph.D. at this school.)

2. University of California-Berkeley

UC Berkeley, or “Cal,” as students call it, is also ranked by US News and World Report as a number one graduate school for sociology (an honor it shares with Princeton and Wisconsin). It is home to 30 full-time faculty and some of the biggest names in sociology today. The program is known for excellence in qualitative research, with focus on race, gender, globalization, and the public application of sociological findings.

3. Harvard University

Harvard’s sociology program is the highest ranking Ivy League program on the list. It has 24 full-time faculty whose research and teaching interests include comparative sociology and social change, economic sociology, culture, inequality, and political and historical sociology, among others. While the first two on this list excel at qualitative research, Harvard’s department is known for excellence in quantitative studies, and in the production of theory.

4. University of California-Los Angeles

The sociology department at UCLA is composed of 35 full-time faculty and enjoys strong connections to interrelated departments across the campus. One of the departments core assets is its location in the global city of Los Angeles, which gives it access to a diverse and dynamic “field” right outside its doors. The department’s strengths include inequality, immigration, labor, race and ethnicity, and globalization.

5. Princeton University

Princeton, an Ivy League school, is also considered number one for graduate school in sociology by US News and World Report. Its 17 full-time faculty offer strengths in Comparative, Regional and and Political Sociology; Demography; Economic Sociology; and Culture, among others. The department’s affiliation with the Center for African American Studies allows students to earn a certificate in African American Studies along with their degree.

Rounding out the top ten are Brandeis University, located in Waltham, MA; Columbia University in New York City; University of Chicago, which played a pivotal role in developing sociology in the US; Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA; and University of Pennsylvania.


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