Dean's Welcome

Welcome to the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at UMass Amherst!

SBS is central to the university’s academic heart, bridging the sciences and liberal arts and educating thousands of students each year in the areas of culture, society, and individual behavior.

The phrase “Connect to Your World” sums up our mission. All SBS students—about 3,500 undergraduate majors and 550 graduate students—share a common bond: a curiosity about the world and its peoples. Each year, hundreds of them participate in internships, community service projects, and study abroad programs—often with the help of scholarships funded by our generous alumni.

John Hird

SBS is home to outstanding faculty, recognized for their outstanding teaching, innovative research and community service. These researchers and scholars connect with their world and find ways to change it for the better through their own accomplishments and their engaging teaching skills.

SBS students find themselves in classrooms, both large and small, with some of the most amazing social scientists. 

In the Economics Department Bob Pollin, graduate student Thomas Herndon, and Michael Ash were named to Foreign Policy magazine’s 100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2013 for research on public debt and economic growth, work that began in a graduate seminar. (Thomas also appeared on The Colbert Report.) In our Sociology Department Don Tomaskovic-Devey received a major international award for work on income inequality. A research paper by Sylvia Brandt (resource economics) was recognized by The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences as among the top recent research papers in the country. Landscape architect Robert Ryan was named a Fellow in the American Society of Landscape Architects. In Political Science Sonia Alvarez recently received a Fulbright Fellowship to continue her research on feminism in Brazil. In Journalism Madeleine Blais is a Pulitzer Prize recipient. The list goes on and on.

Our professors pride themselves on passing their own love of learning and discovery to their students. It is no surprise that nearly every year UMass honors an SBS faculty member with its Outstanding Teaching Award.

Many students, including undergraduates, work one-on-one with faculty on pioneering research projects. After graduation, SBS students go on to careers that include law, social work, economics, financial analysis, urban and regional planning, education, management, medicine, international relations, journalism, public relations, television and radio broadcasting, advertising, and considerably more.

The College is also home to a broad range of approaches to social science, all of which we celebrate, from purely theoretical and interpretive research to all manner of qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. The stature of our excellent graduate programs continues to grow. Each year faculty are recognized with prestigious awards, election to high office in their disciplines, and appointment to editorial positions for top professional journals.

The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences has exceptional research centers and institutes. They are highly respected for their outreach activities, multidisciplinary orientations, and forward-looking research and initiatives.

The social sciences help us understand, engage, and challenge society. SBS is a college on the move, developing greater support and educational opportunities for students, supporting innovative faculty research, and connecting all of our work with society’s needs. Please join us in the exciting future unfolding in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. 

Interim Dean John A. Hird