Max Greenberg, 4th year PhD Student
The Sociology Department at USC has been the ideal place to pursue my interests. Collaborations with faculty have enabled and enriched my on-the-ground work in academic sociology. Whether I am designing interviews, revising drafts for publication or preparing lesson plans, I have found faculty to be approachable and generous with their knowledge. Rich interdisciplinary conversations through Gender Studies and the New Directions Seminar in Feminist Research have broadened my perspective and sharpened my thinking. Department-funded trips to regional and national conferences, as well as workshops on publishing and interviewing for jobs, have prepared me for a successful career in sociology. My fellow graduate students consistently provide invaluable counsel and inspiration as I navigate the everyday setbacks and accomplishments of academic life. As a researcher and activist, I could not ask for a better field than Los Angeles - a dynamic and vibrant city, where sociological questions become the stuff of everyday life.
Radheeka Jayasundera, 5th year PhD Student
I have found a very supportive environment at the Department of Sociology of USC. The faculty and the staff are genuinely concerned about graduate student wellbeing and they are committed to giving them good training in research methods, professional experience and opportunities for networking. From the very beginning, faculty members encourage their students to present at professional conferences and to publish in peer-reviewed journal articles. Some advisors co-author journal articles with their graduate students to help them build up their curriculum vitae. The USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences provide us with additional financial support not only for conference travels, but also for summer research, international field work, dissertation writing grants etc. One of the most beneficial aspects of the USC PhD program for me was the cross-enrollment agreement between UCLA and USC. This allowed me to take classes in advanced demographic and quantitative research methods offered at UCLA and to earn USC credits for them. This opened up a wide array of classes for my training in quantitative methods. The USC Sociology Department’s small cohort sizes and generous financial packages allow graduate students to concentrate on their research, rather than competing for Teaching or Research Assistantships.
Joy Lam, 6th year PhD Student
My experience at USC Sociology has been a rewarding one. As an international student, LA is a place where I found relatively easy adaptation because of its diverse ethnic composition. Faculty members are helpful and welcome intellectual exchange with students. The quality of graduate courses is good and I have learned so much intellectually in the past two years. Financial support from the university and departmental funding available for conference attendance have also been of tremendous help. Above all, I really appreciate the research opportunities and support available on campus for graduate students, not only in sociology but other departments and research centers as well. The emphasis on trans-disciplinary research has given me the valuable opportunity to work as a research assistant for a joint project on 'Transmission of Religion Across Generation' with faculty members from the Department of Sociology, the School of Gerontology, as well as the Department of Religion and the Center for Religion and Civic Culture. It is a remarkable experience professionally to be here at USC.
Kristen Barber, 2011 PhD
Assistant Professor, Sociology
Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
The Sociology Department at USC has surpassed my expectations in every way; I have found a supportive community of faculty and graduate students who are passionate about their work as well as the work of their colleagues. The faculty are accessible, encourage intellectual rigor and integrity, and provide professional guidance. As graduate students, we are encouraged to publish early and present at national conferences regularly. The seminar classes are small, allowing students to fully engage the professor and elicit invaluable feedback from other students. An open dialogue amongst the graduate students allows for the growth of fresh inter-specialty ideas. I have found the department to be an excellent one for the study of gender, social theory, and research methods. The program has provided me with the skills to confidently conduct independent research and build theory in my specialized area of interest.
Casey Copen, 2008 PhD
Associate Service Fellow, National Survey of Family Growth
National Center for Health Statistics
Being a PhD student in the USC Sociology department has allowed me to collaborate in family demography research with faculty in the department and in other schools. In particular, I work with several professors in both Sociology and in the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. My research focuses on how the family influences the timing, type and duration of romantic relationships among young adults. In conducting this research, I am utilizing the Longitudinal Study of Generations, a study that began at USC in 1971 and has interviewed over 300 four-generation families. The experience working as a research assistant on this project has provided me with a broad perspective on family relationships over the life course and a deeper understanding of sociological theories of families and aging. A second strength of the department is its flexibility in choosing a research focus. I am interested in families, aging and demography and I was able to incorporate each of these areas within my qualifying exam. Third, the sociology department offers several quantitative methods courses which allow me to study families from a demographic standpoint. The diverse areas of study, emphasis on multidisciplinary studies and varied course selection within the department have given me a chance to grow as a graduate student and a professional sociologist.
Gloria Gonzalez-Lopez, 2000 PhD
Assistant Professor of Sociology and Mexican American Studies
University of Texas Austin
Being a graduate student at the USC Sociology Department was a highly stimulating intellectual journey. The priceless support and quality time that I received from my generous mentors made the difference in my academic training. Although the high academic standards were threatening for me, especially in the first 2 or 3 years, I graduated feeling a deep sense of gratitude. Looking back in retrospect, I am most appreciative of the demanding expectations that were placed on me; my training in gender studies now makes me feel a deep sense of intellectual confidence. Now that I teach large undergraduate classes in sociology, sexuality, and gender studies, I always go back to the gender archives that I and my qualifying exams friends created as we prepared for our qualifying exams—an accurate reflection of my intellectual passion and interests. I feel honored to be part of that generation of women interested in gender studies.
Kris Marsh, 2005 PhD
Postdoctoral Scholar, Carolina Population Center
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
In addition to faculty accessibility, small seminars, and faculty strength in my area of emphasis (family demography), I found that USC's sociology program offered two unique features pivotal to my academic progress and success. First, I found an unwavering commitment of sociology faculty to helping me advance my own research interests. The faculty encouraged me to structure my own specialized qualifying exam, and they made me aware of resources, venues, and conferences relevant to my developing research agenda. Second, USC offered campus-wide networking with other graduate students. I joined organizations and attended various symposiums, conferences, and workshops for graduate students in general and graduate students of color in particular. The academic rigor of the sociology department at USC personally strengthened me and professionally equipped me for an academic career as a sociologist.
Stephanie J. Nawyn, 2006 PhD
Assistant Professor, Sociology
Michigan State University
I chose to do my doctoral work at USC because of the Sociology Department’s strengths in gender and the creativity and innovativeness of the faculty’s research. I found the environment extremely supportive; the department works to create a sense of camaraderie among students, and encourages faculty-student collaborations. It is the kind of environment that provided me the freedom to chart my own course, but with the supervision I needed as a doctoral student. The solid theoretical training I received in the department and the opportunities to work across disciplines at USC were instrumental in my success in the academic job market.
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