Sociology, Applied (SOCY)

Department of Sociology and Anthropology


JOHN SCHUMACHER, Graduate Program Director

ADLER, MARINA A., Ph.D., University of Maryland, College Park; Social science methodology and statistics; cross-national gender, work and family issues; social inequality (race, class, gender) and social policy
ECKERT, J. KEVIN, Ph.D., Northwestern University; Cultural anthropology, anthropology of aging, long-term care, research design/qualitative methodologies, senior’s housing and aging services
LOTTES, ILSA L., Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania; Sexual and reproductive health and rights, inequality, research methods, sexuality, social determinants of sexual health
MORGAN, LESLIE A., Ph.D., University of Southern California; Aging, gender roles, family, senior living arrangements
ROTHSTEIN, WILLIAM G., Ph.D., Cornell University; Medical sociology, history of American medicine
RUBINSTEIN, ROBERT L., Ph.D., Bryn Mawr College; Cultural and medical anthropology, anthropology of aging, gerontology, gender, qualitative research methods
STUART, MARY E., Sc.D., The Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health; International best practices in chronic disease management, community translation of exercise interventions for chronic diseases

Associate Professors
CHARD, SARAH, Ph.D., Case Western Reserve University; Medical anthropology, urban anthropology, treatment seeking, social support
MESSINGER, SETH, PhD., Columbia University; Medical anthropology, anthropology of cities, anthropology of North America, psychiatry, trauma, social organization of medical work
SCHUMACHER, JOHN, Ph.D., Case Western Reserve University; Medical sociology, social gerontology, physician-patient relationships

Assistant Professors
CHAPIN, BAMBI, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego; Psychodynamics and child development in socio-cultural context, social and emotional relationships, mental health and illness, dissociation and trauma, trance and spirit possession, South Asia
HERRERA, ANGELICA, DR. Ph.D., Loma Linda University, California; Public health and aging policy; family caregiving and diabetes management; health IT in home care; Latino aging; long-term care and home- and community-based services; mental health; and intervention and translational research
KALFOGLOU, ANDREA L, Ph.D., Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Bioethics; feminist bioethics; public health ethics; public health policy; women’s health; reproductive policy and ethics; genetics policy and ethics; research ethics; research methods
MAIR, CHRISTINE A., Ph.D., North Carolina State University; life course, social ties, family, aging, health, social inequality (race, class, and gender), and globalization
TREVITT, JAMIE, Ph.D., Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Population health, reproductive health, social and economic determinants of fertility, maternal/child health, family formation, contraception, social demography, quantitative methods and statistics
WALLACE, BRANDY, Ph.D., Florida State University, Tallahassee; social inequality (race, class, gender), paraprofessional healthcare workforce in senior housing, physician-patient interaction, health disparities

COUSIN-GOSSETT, NICOLE, Ph.D., Temple University; Economic Sociology; social inequality (race and class); alternative economic markets
TRAPP, MICAH, Ph.D., American University; anthropology of food; household food economies; food security; refugees and migration; humanitarianism; transnationalism; social status; West Africa; United States

Degrees Offered:

Master of Arts in Applied Sociology

M.A. Program Description

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology offers a graduate program leading to the Master of Arts in Applied Sociology that prepares students for careers in program development and evaluation; policy analysis; and research in the fields of health, aging, and diversity and gender. Students learn quantitative and qualitative research methods and develop expertise in the areas of specialization listed above.

Department areas of expertise include medical sociology and medical anthropology, sociology of aging, sociocultural gerontology, gender and diversity studies, and research methodology.

The Baltimore-Washington area contains many federal and state government agencies and nonprofit organizations with health and/or aging as their focus. These organizations have provided employment for many of our graduates.

The program is open to full-time and part-time students with any undergraduate majors. All courses are offered one day per week at 4:30 or 7:10 pm Monday through Thursday on the UMBC campus. Students may enter the program in the fall or spring semesters or summer session.

M.A. Program Admission Requirements

Students may be admitted to the M.A. program with any undergraduate major. An undergraduate course in statistics within the last five years in any department at any college is required before admission to the program and may be taken after completion of the bachelor’s degree. An undergraduate GPA of 3.0 is required but students with slightly lower GPAs can be admitted as special advanced students. If they perform well in these courses they can be admitted to the graduate program and receive up to six credits for courses taken as special advanced students.

Students may enter the M.A. program in the fall or spring semesters or summer as part-time or full-time students. The spring/summer admission deadline is December 15 and the fall admission deadline is July 1. All application materials must be received by the deadline, including the formal application, letters of reference, and transcript.

Accelerated B.A./M.A. Program

The UMBC Department of Sociology and Anthropology offers an accelerated combined B.A./M.A. degree program for undergraduate UMBC students in all majors. Students can take up to nine credits of sociology graduate courses during their senior year that count both for the B.A. and M.A. degrees. For example, a senior who has completed one graduate course in each semester of the senior year (6 credits) and graduates needs to complete an additional 24 credits after entering the graduate program.

Students can enter the accelerated combined B.A./M.A. program if they have completed 90 credits of undergraduate courses and have a GPA of 3.0. They must have an overall GPA of 3.0 when they receive their BA degrees and have completed an undergraduate course in statistics within the last five years. They become regular graduate students in the M.A. program in the semester after they complete their undergraduate degree. GRE scores are not required. The graduate school application fee is waived for students who apply for the accelerated B.A./M.A. program.

Financial Assistance

Research, teaching and other assistantships are available for a number of full-time students on and off campus.

Degree Requirements

The M.A. in Applied Sociology consists of 30 credits. All students must complete the statistics and methods requirement (I), plus either the thesis option (IIa) or the analytical paper option (IIb).

I. Statistics and Methods Requirement (9 credits)

  • SOCY 600: Research Methodology
  • SOCY 604: Statistical Analysis
  • One other methods or statistics course from an approved listing, including: SOCY 605, SOCY 608, S OCY 610, SOCY 618, SOCY 619, PSYC 711, ECON 611.

IIa. Thesis Option (21 credits)

  • 15 credits of elective courses
  • 6 credits of SOCY 799: Master’s Thesis Research, including preparation and defense of a master’s thesis under a committee of three faculty members

IIb. Analytical Paper Option (21 credits)

  • 18 credits of elective courses
  • 3 credits of SOCY 711; Analytical Paper Research, including preparation of a research paper approved by a first and second reader
  • Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in the Nonprofit Sector

    The Department of Sociology and Anthropology offers a post-baccalaureate certificate in the nonprofit sector that consists of courses on the internal structure and external relations of nonprofit organizations, methods of research for program evaluation, and analyses of selected areas of health, aging, and related disciplines. It is designed for professionals working in health, aging, and related social services and for graduate students who wish to develop an understanding of the nonprofit sector.

    The certificate consists of four three-credit courses (12 credits). All courses are offered one day per week at 4:30 or 7:10 pm Monday through Thursday on the UMBC campus. Students may enter the program in the fall or spring semesters or summer session.

    Students must take one course in each of the following four content areas: • The Social and Institutional Roles of Nonprofit Organizations in American Society: SOCY 681 • The Structure and Function of Nonprofit Organizations: SOCY 685 • Research Methods for Nonprofit Institutions: SOCY 600, SOCY 604 or SOCY 619 • Nonprofit Sectors in American Society: Any substantive graduate course in Sociology. Relevant graduate courses in other disciplines may also be used with the permission of the Graduate Program Director.

    Information on applications to post-baccalaureate certificate programs is found in the Application chapter of this catalog.

    Dual Degree Program in Applied Sociology and Gerontology
    The dual degree program enables students to combine the M.A. in Applied Sociology with the Ph.D. in Gerontology offered by the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Students are admitted to both programs separately. Interested students should communicate with the graduate program directors of both programs.

    Dual Degree Program in Applied Sociology and Public Policy
    The dual degree program enables students to combine the M.A. in Applied Sociology with the Ph.D. in Public Policy offered by the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Students are admitted to both programs separately. Interested students should communicate with the graduate program directors of both programs.

    UMBC International Field Research Course in Culture, Policy and Practice
    The international field research course (SOCY 663) enables students to develop an international perspective on important policy issues and to gain experience using social science field research techniques. For graduate students, the program provides a structured opportunity for independent study in health, long-term care, disability and rehabilitation, social policy and other areas of individual interest in a foreign country.


    SOCY 600
    Research Methodology [3]

    This course is designed to advance graduate students’ knowledge of the modes of inquiry in the social sciences and to familiarize them with research methods and techniques. Prerequisites: Graduate standing and consent of instructor.

    SOCY 604
    Statistical Analysis [3]

    An introduction to the concepts and methods of descriptive and inferential statistical techniques. Bi-variate and multi-variate statistical techniques will be examined. Prerequisites: SOCY 600 or equivalent and consent of instructor.

    SOCY 605
    Advanced Research and Evaluation Techniques [3]

    Components in research design and strategy, problems in and approaches to the application of research and statistics to program evaluation, policy decision-making based on research data. Note: Also listed as PUBL 605. Prerequisites: SOCY 604 or equivalent and consent of instructor.

    SOCY 606
    Social Inequality and Social Policy [3]

    This course examines poverty and inequality in modern society. The focus is on describing the extent of poverty and inequality, examining theories that attempt to explain these phenomena and discussing the policies that have been employed to mitigate them. In addition to class inequality, the course will consider racial and gender inequality. Note: Also listed as LLC 606. Prerequisite: graduate standing.

    SOCY 609
    Sociological Theory [3]

    Classical and contemporary sociological theorists are studied and compared, as well as different schools of theory. The course surveys and critiques different types of theory and metatheory.

    SOCY 611
    Constructing Race, Class and Gender [3]

    This course provides an interdisciplinary examination of the complex array and interplay of structural and cultural limitations on individual and group mobility in contemporary American society. Using a range of approaches, the course defines and clarifies the limitations of these dominant social categories by problematizing and interrogating four important social categories: race, class, gender and schooling. Also listed as EDU 611 and LLC 611.

    SOCY 616
    Cyberspace Culture and Society [3]

    The information superhighway, communications revolution and cyberspace are used to describe the contemporary revolution in human communications. This course will explore the cultural and societal implications of computer-mediated communications by addressing such topics and questions as the representations of self and self-identity in cyberspace, interactions in cyberspace, information technology and institutional change, community formation in cyberspace, democracy and collective action in cyberspace, and order and deviance in cyberspace. Throughout the course, contemporary technological advances will be compared to and contrasted with the cultural and societal effects of previous technologies, such as the printing press, wireless telephone and television. Also listed as LLC 616.

    SOCY 618
    SAS for Social Scientists [3]

    This course introduces students to the basic principles of SAS, a widely used statistical software package. Students will learn data entry, data correction and validation, data analysis, combining data sets, rearranging data and macros. Prerequisite: Consent of instructor.

    SOCY 619
    Qualitative Methods in Social Research [3]

    This course will focus on the styles of research, analysis and epistemologies associated with qualitative research in the applied social and policy sciences. As an increasingly important mode of inquiry, qualitative, multi-method approaches are particularly relevant to the study of social interaction and behavior in natural settings. Qualitative approaches involve collecting and analyzing empirical information from multiple sources, such as first-person accounts, life histories, visual/printed records, semi-structured and open-ended interviews, informal and formal observations, and biographical and autobiographical materials. Students in the course will learn how to design, collect and analyze qualitative information by conducting a small, semester-long study. Sections of the research project will be prepared, presented and evaluated throughout the course.

    SOCY 620
    Social Epidemiology [3]

    Basic concepts and methods of epidemiological investigation with special emphasis on the social environment and its influence on health.

    SOCY 622
    Inequality in Education. See LLC 622 under Language, Literacy and Culture

    SOCY 629
    Aging in Cultural Context [3]

    Drawing upon readings about contemporary peoples from Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and the United States, this course examines the process of aging and what it is like to be old in a worldwide context. Using case studies, life histories, readings and films, an analysis will be made of the way culture affects the aging process and is linked to variation in religion, family organization, social networks and beliefs about the life cycle. Global research on aging is used to discuss specific issues such as ethnicity, long-term care, community roles of the aged, urban development and homelessness.

    SOCY 630
    Sociology of Aging [3]

    Changing work, family and other sociological roles of the elderly; the subculture of the aged; economic, health, medical care and other social problems of the elderly.

    SOCY 631
    Family and Aging in Society [3]

    An analysis of human development and aging as they relate to the institution of the family. Using a family life-cycle perspective, the course examines demographic trends, historical change in the family, stages of family life, changing family roles and inter-generational relations. Particular attention is paid to the mutual effects of changing family structure and social policy in shaping the status of the aged in society.

    SOCY 632
    Work and Retirement [3]

    An examination of the issues and research related to work among older people and the termination of work at retirement. Specific topics to be addressed include the work career and aging, skill obsolescence, efficiency of older workers, age discrimination in employment, the retirement decision, differences in retirement by sex, consequences of retirement for health and economic status, pension policy and implications for the future.

    SOCY 633
    Gender, Work and Family in Cross-Cultural Perspective [3]

    This course examines the intersection of work and family as affected by gender stratification in various countries. The topics covered include the separation and inter-dependence of work and family, gender wage differences, occupational gender segregation, division of household labor and childcare, dual-earner families and the impact of national policies (childcare, parental leave, affirmative action) on women and men.

    SOCY 634
    Gender and the Life Course [3]

    This course examines the complex interactions of two critical social constructs: gender and the life course. Material will examine how these constructs have developed over time, how they vary across cultures and historical periods, and how they interact to construct very different lives for males and females in society. Specific foci of the course include demographic and biological underpinnings of gender and the life course, age stratification systems and times of family and other life events by gender.

    SOCY 645
    Health and Illness in the 21st Century [3]

    This course will examine issues that characterize modern medical practice and medical care including health care costs; public and private health care providers and insurers; treatment of important chronic and infectious diseases; public health issues related to chronic diseases; medical ethics; socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic differences in health and medical care; and medical research. Readings will be assigned from the current medical literature. Prerequisite: graduate standing.

    SOCY 651
    Sociology of Health and Illness Behavior [3]

    Analysis of health needs and demands of the population. Examination of health and illness behavior and utilization patterns, taking into account socio-demographic variations and trends. Topics include mortality and morbidity, health attitudes and behavior, social psychology of illness and patient-professional relationships.

    SOCY 652
    Healthcare Organization and Delivery [3]

    Current issues are reviewed in healthcare organization, delivery and financing in the United States and the various policies and approaches that impact the changing healthcare delivery system. Particular emphasis is placed on the implications of technological developments and the increasingly competitive environment for alternative aspects of healthcare.

    SOCY 654
    Comparative Health Systems [3]

    A comparative analysis of different types of health systems in the United States and selected other nations, examining differences in financing, cost, use, staffing, services provided and relations with other social institutions.

    SOCY 655
    Disability and Rehabilitation [3]

    Conceptualization and measurement of disability, determinants and consequences of disabling chronic conditions, services for the disabled and program planning and evaluation in disability and rehabilitation. The development of Social Security policy and rehabilitation will be discussed in terms of interdisciplinary approaches.

    SOCY 657
    Social History of American Medicine [3]

    The history of American healthcare, hospitals and ambulatory care facilities, the role of government, public health programs and social issues such as smoking and abortion.

    SOCY 658
    Sociology of Mental Health and Illness [3]

    The course examines the social history of mental illness, the concepts and treatments employed, the professional’s role, the role of social class in mental illness, social factors in psycho-pathology, stress, social support and coping processes, along with sociological critiques of mental health practices. More currently, the course examines deinstitutionalization and the community mental health movement, the relationship between mental illness and the criminal justice system and the mental patients’ rights movement.

    SOCY 663
    Introduction to International Field Research [3]

    The purpose of this course is to help prepare students for the increasingly sophisticated requirements of a global society; to develop an international perspective on important issues in culture, policy and practice; and to gain experience using social science field research methods. The international experience is designed to enable students to conduct field research exercises on issues that will be of importance to the United States and Europe by studying the inter-relationships of health and social policy, science and technology, and culture and lifestyle in an international context. Students learn social science research methods, vocabulary and concepts from the disciplines of sociology, anthropology and health services research. This course includes lectures, structured exercises, field trips, site visits and discussions in the United States and Switzerland.

    SOCY 672
    Issues in Aging Policy [3]

    This course addresses salient issues in aging policy and provides students with a context for understanding the public policy process. The course will explore theoretical models of public policy and apply them to aging policy, examine major public policy controversies facing the aging society, study the role of organizations in the policy process, provide tools for analyzing social policies in aging and expose students to key literature in aging and social policy. Note: Also listed as PUBL 672.

    SOCY 681
    The Social and Institutional Roles of Nonprofit Organizations in American Society [3]

    This course describes the history, organization and functions of nonprofit organizations in American society. Topics include the functions of the nonprofit, government and for-profit sectors; the history of the social roles of volunteerism and nonprofit organizations; the impact of nonprofit organizations on American society and the changing roles of the three sectors in the 21st century.

    SOCY 685
    Structure and Function of Nonprofit Organizations [3]

    This course analyzes the internal operations of nonprofit organizations and external relationships that nonprofit organizations need to develop. Topics include nonprofit financial systems, budgeting requirements, relationships with the funding community, interactions with government, and effective use of human resources.

    SOCY 698
    Advanced Selected Topics in Sociology [3]

    The specific topics will be announced in advance of the semester the course is offered.

    SOCY 699
    Selected Topics [3]

    Topics selected on the basis of the background interests of faculty and students.

    SOCY 701
    Directed Independent Study [1-3]

    Independent reading for master’s students under supervision of faculty member. Note: Intended for students who desire to study topics not covered by regular course work with individual faculty members. May be repeated for credit.

    SOCY 711
    Analytical Paper Research [1-3]

    Students will write their analytical papers under the supervision of their first and second faculty readers. A total of three credits of SOCY 711 is required. Students must obtain agreement from a full-time department faculty member to serve as first reader and submit a “Graduate Student Analytical Paper and Thesis Form” signed by the first reader to the Graduate Program Director. The second reader will be chosen by mutual agreement of the student and the first reader. Permission of first reader required for enrollment in the course.

    SOCY 758
    Advanced Seminar in Medical Sociology [1-3]

    SOCY 778
    Advanced Seminar in the Sociology of Aging [1-3]

    SOCY 798
    Internship Placement [1-3]

    SOCY 799
    Master’s Thesis Research [1-6]

    Students will write their theses under the supervision of a thesis committee consisting of a chair and two members. A total of six credits of SOCY 799 is required. Students must obtain agreement from a full-time department faculty member to serve as chair of the committee and submit a “Graduate Student Analytical Paper and Thesis Form” signed by the faculty member to the Graduate Program Director. The other two members of the committee will be chosen by mutual agreement of the student and the committee chair.. The student must have an oral defense of the completed thesis with the committee and usually an oral defense of the thesis proposal. The Graduate School website contains a manual to assist students in the preparation of their theses. Permission of the thesis committee chair required for enrollment in the course.