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What will I learn?

The Department of Sociology offers a doctoral degree in sociology with a focus on social justice intended for students planning to pursue careers in a variety of professional fields including higher education, government, and law. Students entering the program must take courses and write a dissertation related to one of our four core fields: criminology, critical race & ethnic studies, environmental sociology, or political economy & globalization. Students are also required to complete study in a second area including one of our four areas, social theory, or statistics. The program is focused on critical inquiry that examines social phenomenon through a lens of power. Upon successful completion of this program, students should have an understanding of important theoretical concepts and methodological approaches to the study of sociology.

Concentrations (Required)


Critical Race and Ethnic Studies

Environmental Sociology

Political Economy and Globalization


The criminology specialization promotes critical understandings of the relationship between social forces and definitions of crime, criminal behavior, and the institutions and dynamics of social control. Students are taught to apply sociological theories to research on crime and criminal justice. Students are also provided tools for the preservation of peach and the safeguarding of due process and civil rights. This concentration prepares students for doctoral study or the study of law and for professional opportunities in civil rights. Please note that our criminology focus is not appropriate for those planning to pursue a degree in law enforcement.

Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Concentration

Courses address questions of power through the study of structural racism, social/national movements, and social (in)justice. Courses equip students with rigorous theoretical and analytical tools to enable an increased understanding of a multicultural and multinational work for the sake of furthering social justice, human rights, and egalitarian democracy. We encourage our students to imagine and create transformative change for racial equality.

Environmental Sociology Concentration

Environmental sociology focuses on how social institutions and cultural practices influence behavior. Students will analyze the social causes and consequences of technological choices, policy decisions, and economic production processes affecting resource scarcity and environmental degradation.

Political Economy and Globalization Concentration

Political economy generally explores the production, allocation, and consumption of goods and services, including the role that state places in these processes. The sociological approach to the study of political economy draws upon distinctive theoretical traditions, methods of analysis, and subject matter. Courses emphasize the social context that frames economic production, resource, distribution, and state action. Courses in the concentration also stresses that social movements have contested and shaped these processes.

Which department am I in?

College of Arts and Sciences

Study options

Full Time (51 credit hours)

Tuition fees
US$31,798.00 per year

*Price shown is for indicative purposes, please check with institution

Start date

Expected January 2022


College of Arts and Sciences

312 Ayres Hall, 1403 Circle Drive,



37996, United States

Entry requirements

For students from United States

Prerequisite courses with a grade of B or higher may be required if the applicant has insufficient background or less than required GPA

For international students

  • Master’s or JD degree in sociology or a related field
  • Overall undergraduate and graduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 or higher or equivalent qualification

An applicant requesting admission to the Graduate School may be required to submit results of the TOEFL or IELTS. Minimum score requirements for admission to the Graduate School are:

  • a total score of 80 on the internet-based TOEFL (iBT),
  • a 6.5 overall band score on the IELTS.

Application Deadline: Spring: June 15

*There may be different IELTS requirements depending on your chosen course.


About University of Tennessee

Internationals get to participate in exciting hands-on experiences that are invaluable for future careers.

  • Tennessee’s flagship university
  • 80% of graduates in employment or further study in 6 months
  • Experiential learning opportunities
  • Up to USD 18,000 per year in financial aid

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