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The Graduate Program in APPLIED SOCIOLOGY. Master of Arts and optional concentration with Forensic Services Graduate Certificate Program . “It may well be the best program in applied sociology in the United States.”

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the graduate program in applied sociology

The Graduate Program in APPLIED SOCIOLOGY

Master of Arts

and optional concentration with

Forensic Services Graduate Certificate Program


“It may well be the best program in applied sociology in the United States.”

1999 Academic Quality and Development Review Team report, led by Professor Caroline Persell, New York University, 1995 President, Eastern Sociological Society; 2005 Vice-President, American Sociological Association.


This exciting and dynamic program is perfect for anyone looking for the opportunity to explore and develop their abilities to consider, analyze and contribute to sociological policy, program development, research or the management of social agencies. Our graduates are researchers, managers, instructors, policy analysts, and service providers in health care, social service and criminal justice agencies, and corporate departments throughout the area. Many have continued their advanced studies in PhD programs, as well. Our accelerated, 5-year BA-to-MA program offers qualified undergraduates the chance to complete master’s level study in a more timely way than otherwise possible.


Admission Requirements

  • A strong undergraduate record in sociology and related subjects, with at least a 3.0 GPA in sociology and related course work; applicants with an overall GPA of at least 3.0 will be preferred and those below 2.7 will not be considered. Applicants who do not hold a BA in sociology should have at least 18 semester credits or the equivalent in undergraduate sociology or another social science field related to program objectives.
  • 2. Successful completion of undergraduate courses in sociological theory, research methodology, and statistics. Candidates admitted to the program who are deficient in any of these areas may be required to complete these undergraduate courses not later than the end of the second semester of residence in the program. In some cases a course with a strong theoretical component can be accepted as satisfying the theory prerequisite.
  • 3. A statement of approximately 1200 words on academic and career interests in applied sociology, including the applicant’s desired area of specialization in the program.
  • 4. Results of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
  • 5. Three letters of recommendation from individuals acquainted with the applicant's interests who are qualified to evaluate his or her potential for sustained graduate study in applied sociology. At least one of the letters must be from a faculty member with whom the applicant is studying or has studied.
  • 6. International students: Applicants from countries where English is not the primary language are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). A Declaration and Certification of Finances form must also be completed. International students should see the Graduate Admissions web site for additional instructions. The University International Student Services Office hosts a student orientation and a mandatory workshop on immigration regulations each term.

Degree Requirements

• Candidates for the MA degree in applied sociology earn a minimum of 36 semester credits, at least 27 of which must be in courses offered in the program. To graduate, students must have an overall grade point average of 3.0 (students may be placed on probation if their GPA falls below 3.0).

•Core Courses. Fundamentals of Applied Sociology (Soc 600), research methodology (Soc 650 and 651), and two courses out of the following: Complex Organizations (Soc 601), Social Policy (Soc 640), Social Problems (Soc 620), or Applied Social Theory (Soc 605).

•Specialty Courses. Students specialize in a substantive area by taking at least two courses from one of the following areas: medical sociology, criminology/corrections, social policy/evaluation research, or interdisciplinary programs in forensic services, dispute resolution, gerontology, or counseling.

•Practical Experience. Students are expected to complete an internship in a human services, health, or criminal justice setting or to complete the seminar on teaching. The requirement can be waived for those with prior experience or for those who complete the graduate teaching seminar.

•Teaching Seminar. All students who receive a Teaching Assistantship and others who are interested must enroll in our graduate seminar on the sociology of teaching

•Capstone. Students must complete an MA thesis—a 9 credit independent research project leading to a thesis and supervised by a 3-person committee; an MA research paper—a research experience developed in a 6-credit seminar that results in an article-length and professional quality research paper; or a comprehensive exam—a 6-hour exam covering research methods, social theory and policy, and the student’s area of concentration.


Graduate Certificate in Forensic Services

A 16-credit Graduate Certificate Program in Forensic Services. Designed for criminal justice and mental health professionals, the Certificate Program provides a strong grounding in basic science, mental health counseling principles, and social theory, while at the same time offering practical skills and competencies in mental health and criminal justice, which will enable students to serve as effective professionals in a variety of social service environments where the problems of crime and mental illness intersect.

The program's emphasis on analysis and its interdisciplinary approach are strengthened by collaborations with other academic units: UMass Boston's undergraduate Criminal Justice Program, Department of Psychology, Graduate Program in Counseling, Department of Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine.

Five three-credit courses and a one-credit field experience project (students matriculated in Applied Sociology can substitute Soc. 698 for Soc. 598):

COUNSL 604: Foundations in Mental Health PSYCH 614: Forensic PsychologySOCIOL 598: Field Experience Project (1 credit) SOCIOL 618: Psychiatric Epidemiology and Forensic Services

SOCIOL 623: Alcohol and CrimeSOCIOL 667: Sociology of Law

Applied Sociology students may use Forensic Services courses as their area of concentration even if they do not complete the Certificate requirements.


Graduate Assistantships and Financial Aid

The Program offers a limited number of graduate assistantships to support teaching, research, and administrative needs. Most graduate assistants work 5 or 10 hours per week during the semester(s) they are supported, although occasionally a student may receive a 15- or 20-hour assistantship. Assistants receive a stipend in addition to tuition remission and partial fee payment. Teaching assistants are expected to complete the program’s seminar on teaching.

alumni ae comments
Alumni/ae comments
  • I wanted to do field work. I wanted to utilize investigative technology. I wanted to do participant and non-participant observational research. I wanted to interview and ask probing questions. I wanted to stand in it, write it down, see it, and feel it.
  • The most helpful for my career was the course on SPSS [quantitative data analysis]. It as exactly what I needed in order to gain a stronger footing in my career. SPSS was a new program being used by the agency and I was the only person proficient enough to train others.
  • I really had the opportunity to improve my writing skills. I use them every day. I’m the Director of Development at a college, doing fundraising, grant writing, corporate relations, government relations, research and program development. Writing is very important.
  • The applied program prepared me for the intense reading, writing, critical thinking analyzing and synthesizing that is required in a PhD program.
  • I was well prepared to pursue my Ph.D. in Social Policy at Brandeis. I had better training than my classmates who had received degrees from Harvard and Boston University.
Andrea Tull, MAManagement AnalystDepartment of Research, Development and EvaluationMassachusetts Rehabilitation Commission

I was hired at MRC as a Management Analyst where I am responsible for completing several regulatory reports to various stakeholders. I also conduct survey research including our consumer satisfaction and needs assessment surveys, and design and complete studies on agency programs, including cost-benefit analyses and qualitative reviews of case records. Recently, development activities such as grant writing and evaluation have become a primary responsibility, along with developing a comprehensive evaluation protocol for the agency in conjunction with senior management.

The Applied Sociology program provided me with a solid foundation in statistical methods, research design and evaluation methods. These are skills that I utilize every day at MRC. I look back fondly on my time in the Applied Sociology program, and continue to stay in touch with faculty and classmates.

Megan Reynolds, MACutler Institute for Child and Family PolicyMuskie School of Public ServiceUniversity of Southern Maine

I currently hold two positions, both of which draw heavily on the skills and experience I gained through the Applied Sociology program at UMass Boston. My primary job is as a research analyst at the … Muskie School of Public Service. Our team develops tools to measure the effectiveness of 11 grant programs administered by the federal government’s Office on Violence Against Women as part of the Violence Against Women Act. We then utilize these tools to gather and compile statistics for OVW regarding the activities supported by their awards. Additionally, we conduct site visits to a sample of funded organizations in order to document grantee’s perceptions of the impact their work is having for victims of domestic violence and the communities in which they live. Finally, we provide training and technical assistance to facilitate the use of the reporting forms which we have created.

The strong foundation in research methods that I gained in the Applied Sociology program was instrumental in helping me to secure employment at the University and the instruction I received during my UMass internship was central to my ability to work as a psychometrist. Overall, I credit my study at UMB with the success that I have enjoyed in putting my passion for sociology to work, literally and figuratively.

lisa steriti digianni ma phd cancer risk and prevention clinic dana farber cancer institute
Lisa Steriti DiGianni, MA, PhDCancer Risk and Prevention ClinicDana-Farber Cancer Institute

In April of [1995], I transitioned into a position as Study Manager in the Cancer Risk and Prevention Clinic at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. I immediately loved this job – I had my first experience working with women at high risk of breast cancer and learned all about the fascinating world of genetic testing. All of the research skills I learned at UMB went into high gear. I was designing studies, analyzing data and writing scientific papers. I was promoted relatively quickly to Project manager where I began directing projects and supervising junior staff…[After earning my PhD at Northeastern] I am still working at DFCI, however now as a Senior Research Scientist…. My major role is to oversee all of the cancer genetics research studies in the DFCI Cancer Risk and Prevention Clinic. … I still call on the research skills I learned at UMB.

…My 2 years in the UMB Applied Sociology program were the best academic experience I have known to this day, clearly outshining all the others. The research skills I learned at UMB have become a part of me; without my research training, I would not have had such professional success—that is clear. To this day, I often and fondly remember the UMB faculty that had a strong and positive influence on me—I admire and respect them enormously; this is reflected in the fact that we have kept in touch with each other for so long.


Graduate Student Career Plans

2001 2002 2005 2006

Student Status

charitable assistance research training
Charitable Assistance/Research Training

Cruising After Commencement


Full-time Sociology Faculty

Paul Benson (PhD, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill) Sociology of Mental Health, Medical Sociology, Public Policy

Milton L. Butts, Jr. (PhD, University of Pennsylvania) Juvenile Delinquency, Urban Sociology, Race & Ethnic Relations, Criminology

Jorge Capetillo-Ponce ( PhD, New School) Social Theory, Race and Ethnic Relations, Media Studies, Latino Studies

Xiaogang Deng (PhD, SUNY-Buffalo) Research Methods, Deviance, Criminological Theory, Comparative Criminology

Estelle Disch (PhD, Tufts University) Gender, Human Services, Multicultural Studies, Clinical Sociology

Susan L. Gore (PhD, University of Pennsylvania) Medical Sociology, Sociology and Social Psychology of Public Health

Laura Hansen (PhD, UC Riverside) Organizations, Social Network Analysis, White-Collar Crime, Corrections, Youth Gangs

Stephanie W. Hartwell (PhD, Yale University) Drugs and Society, Mental Health, Criminality, Applied Sociology

Glenn Jacobs (PhD, Temple University) Urban Sociology, Social Theory, Race and Ethnic Relations, Social Problems, Sociology of Music & Art, Field Methods

Philip A. Kretsedemas (PhD, University of Minnesota) Immigration, social welfare, critical race theory, political sociology/social movements, democracy and development, media studies, Caribbean Studies

Richard Kronish (PhD, University of Wisconsin) Social Policy, Social Stratification, Labor

Andrea Leverentz (PhD, University of Chicago) Criminology, Juvenile Delinquency, Qualitative Methods

Siamak Movahedi (PhD, Washington State University) Social Psychology, Social psychiatry, Research Methods & Statistics

Russell K. Schutt (PhD, University of Illinois-Chicago) Research Methods, Sociology of Organizations, Homelessness and Mental Health Services, Sociology of Law

Mohammad H. Tamdgidi (PhD, SUNY-Binghamton) Social Theory, Self & Society, World-Historical Sociology, Soc. of Knowledge, Soc. Movements, Utopias

Reef Youngreen (PhD, University of Iowa) Social Psychology, Status Processes, Deviance