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Doctoral Placement

The Sociology Department has a strong record of placing students who graduate from our doctoral program. Since 2000, 39 students have earned Ph.D.s from our program, and they are now employed all over the country, mostly in academic positions. For example, 29 of those who graduated are in positions that require teaching, research, and 9 hold researcher/administrator positions. Five recent graduates held post-postdoctoral fellowships after graduation. The current data from the National Research Council's assessment of the PhD program's Time-To-Degree can be found here and KU's Sociology Doctoral Program Profile can be found here.

Recent Dissertation Titles:

  • Carrie Wendel-Hummell, April 28, 2015: “Journey to Parenthood: How New Fathers and Mothers Make Sense of Perinatal Emotional Distress”
  • KuoRay Mao, July 29, 2015: “When the Wells Ran Dry: A Treadmill Analysis of Political Capitalism and Environmental Degradation in the Minqin Oasis”
  • Christy Craig, August 28, 2015:  “Reading Between the Lines: Social, Cultural, and Erotic Capital In American and Irish Women’s Book Clubs”
  • Aislinn Addington, Oct. 21, 2015: “Drawing Lines and Taking Sides: An Examination of Boundary Work among Oppositional Worldviews”
  • Jane Webb, Nov. 12, 2015: “From Amazon Warriors to Hobbits: Heightism and the Cultural “Staturization” of Identities, Gender, and Sexuality”

Following are a few comments from some of our previous students:

Elizabeth M. Legerski

Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of North Dakota
Dissertation title: Hierarchies of Risk: The Longitudinal Dynamics of Family, Work, Welfare and Health Insurance in Low-Income Women's Lives
Chair/Adviser: Mary Zimmerman

"Individual initiative is not enough to succeed in graduate school – a student must also have access to supportive colleagues, mentors, and programs that can help guide them through the degree process. I found the graduate seminars offered through the Sociology Department and graduate school to be rigorous, engaging, and rewarding, which allowed me to feel confident that I was well prepared. In addition, I also benefited greatly from close mentoring and opportunities for teaching, research, and networking. The faculty in the Department are respected and well-connected in their fields of study, and are eager to find opportunities for their graduate students to contribute to and participate in local, regional, and national academic communities. I found the graduate students to also be supportive of each other and am grateful for the friendships (across cohorts) that helped me at each stage of the degree process. Graduate work – like any professional training – can be long and difficult at times, but a supportive and positive environment can help make the process more exciting and enjoyable. It has been my experience that the Sociology Department and graduate students at KU are sincerely committed to graduate student success. I’m proud to call myself a Jayhawk."

Jason S. Capps

Core Lecturer in the Anthropology, Sociology, & Social Work Department at Seattle University, Seattle, WA
Dissertation title: Collateral Damage in Iraq and Capital Punishment in the U.S.: How the Public Makes Sense of Extreme Violence and Death
Chair/Adviser: David Smith

“The Kansas Sociology Department has a long history and reputation of being a place that does an exceptional job of grooming young scholars to be productive, provocative, intellectually curious sociologists.  I am thrilled to be a product of the Kansas Sociology program.  One clear strength of the program is the ability for students to work closely with mentors to actively develop the skills necessary to work as a professional in the field of sociology.  Students are allowed the flexibility to conduct research on the topic of their choice while receiving effective and detailed feedback during the entire PhD process (from PhD qualifying exams to finished dissertation).  Professors at Kansas take the time to carefully and honestly review student work, focusing squarely on areas of improvement in a humane and comprehensive manner. Further, Kansas Sociology stresses the mentor/apprentice model of graduate work that seems to be missing from many departments in the United States.  I can envision working in a collaborative fashion, for years to come, with several of my professors at Kansas.  As a result of the relationships I have with Kansas Sociology I am motivated to come to the Midwest Sociological Meetings every few years even though I now live on the West Coast.  What is more, the student culture at Kansas is very positive.  In my experience, the vast majority of the students were supportive of each other and truly wanted to see people do well and to represent Kansas Sociology in a positive way.”

Sara F. Collas

Adjunct Faculty in the Social Sciences Department at Edgewood College, Madison, WI
Dissertation title: Conflict and Community in a Lesbian Feminist Space: An Autoethnography of Workerville at the 2001 and 2002 Michigan Womyn's Music Festival
Chair/Adviser: Joane Nagel

“In pursuing my PhD I found my dissertation advisor and my dissertation committee excellent guides. Their recommendations and feedback led me to work out the questions which I confronted. As a result of my studies at the University of Kansas I am prepared to teach and further my research in the field.”

Robert Futrell

Chair and Professor of Sociology at University of Nevada-Las Vegas
Dissertation title: Struggling for Democracy: Environmental Politics of Chemical Weapons Disposal
Chair/Adviser: Jack Weller

“I began the graduate program in KU Sociology as an MA student with the goal of earning a PhD and becoming a professor. But frankly, I had little idea of exactly how to do it or what it would take. From the first semester on I was thoroughly socialized both academically and professionally. The program provided a deep grounding in social theory while strongly emphasizing its use for empirical research. Faculty were generous with their time for students while providing us a great deal of autonomy and support to carve out our own path of study and research. We were encouraged to be active in the discipline and given the insights needed to “play the game,” so to speak. I now find myself trying to do all of the same for my own graduate students.”

Mary E. Kelly

Associate Professor of Sociology at Central Missouri State University
Dissertation title: Born Again Lithuanians
Chair/Adviser: Joane Nagel

“My graduate experience at KU was, on the whole, a positive one. I found the faculty, especially at the dissertation stage, to be committed to my becoming a professional sociologist. Sometimes this meant telling me things I didn't want to hear- but I was the better for it. The graduate student relationships were in some ways equally important. Getting together socially and complaining about teaching, faculty, and dissertating helped us all. My experience on MARS (now Social Thought and Research) and Research on Aging was also an important introduction to the publication process.”

Dan Krier

Assistant Professor of Sociology at Iowa State University
Dissertation title: Speculative Management: Corporate Restructuring and the American Stock Market, 1984 - 1997
Chair/Adviser: Jack Weller

“Kansas Sociology has a distinctive identity in the world of academic sociology. The program tends to attract students who care about real-world social problems and the faculty demonstrate by example how to use social theory, history and methodological creativity to dive down deep into our society in the search for solutions to them. At KU, students will find faculty who sincerely care about their development and who exert remarkable energy to make courses not just rigorous but meaningful. Other departments might provide efficient, tightly-contained degree programs, but few offer students a better opportunity to develop into self-directed, socially-engaged scholars.”

William J. Swart

Professor of Sociology at Augustana College, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Dissertation title: A Terrible Beauty is Born: The Framing of Nationalism in Irish Politics, 1790-1994
Chair/Adviser: Joane Nagel

“One of the many benefits of the graduate Sociology program at KU is its’ unique focus on individual intellectual development. Rather than being stifled by pre-approved reading lists and preliminary examinations, I was given the freedom to organize a literature and explore questions that interested me the most. The graduate faculty served as partners in this process; their mentoring encouraged me to take ownership of the discipline as an individual scholar rather than force-fit my interests to a standardized programmatic agenda. I have fond memories of my graduate experience in sociology at KU – it was excellent preparation for my career in academic sociology.”


Recent placements include:


  • Augustana College
  • Bemidji State University
  • Bradley University
  • Cameron University
  • Central Missouri State University
  • Colorado State University
  • Georgia State University
  • Grand Valley State University
  • Iowa State University
  • James Madison University
  • Johnson County Community College
  • Kansas City Art Institute
  • Kansas City Kansas Community College
  • University of Louisiana Lafayette
  • University of Minnesota- Rochester
  • University of Nevada-Las Vegas
  • New Mexico State University-Las Cruces
  • University of North Dakota
  • Ohio University-Eastern Campus
  • Oklahoma State University
  • University of Oklahoma
  • State University of New York-Cortland
  • State University of New York-Geneseo
  • State University of New York-Oswego
  • University of Texas-El Paso
  • Tulane University
  • University of Wisconsin, Baraboo

Post-Doctoral Fellowships

  • Mayo Clinic
  • National Institute of Health at University of Texas-Medical Branch
  • Sheps Center for Health Care Research, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • RORC, Kansas City VA Medical Center
  • Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore

Researcher/Administrator Positions

  • Director of Extension-Placed Based Economic Development Initiative, University of Missouri Columbia
  • Project Coordinator, Center for Research on Learning, University of Kansas
  • Project Manager, School of Social Welfare, University of Kansas
  • New Mexico Department of Education
  • Senior Statistical Analyst, Washington State Department of Social and Health Services

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