The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Population Studies Certificate

Demographers study the types of human population processes that play a key role in the fields of education, international development, environmental impact analysis, marketing, urban planning, healthcare, public safety, government, actuarial science, and academia. (Find specifics on the career application of population studies.) Using empirical, evidence-based data, demographers shape government policy and contribute ideas to the betterment of society. The Department of Sociology’s Certificate in Population Studies prepares undergraduate students for careers requiring demographic skills or for entering graduate programs in related areas.

In just the last few years our world has experienced a number of major demographic milestones. The global population reached its 7 billionth mark, triple the size of what it was just a century ago. For the first time in human history, more people are now living in cities than in rural areas. And, although the HIV/AIDs epidemic remains a significant mortality threat, it reached its peak and has begun to decline. Almost half of the global population living in every region of the world now has below-replacement fertility. Thus, the world’s growth rate is slowing and very soon the elderly will outnumber young children in the world. The 2013 United Nations Human Development Report showed that health, education, and income gains have accelerated over recent years for many developing countries. Nevertheless, global poverty and disease remain pressing issues and environmental concerns stemming from rising global consumption continue to mount. Skills that can understand these complex human processes are needed now more than ever.

Declaring Completion of the Certificate

When a student has enrolled in the final class for the certificate, they must fill out a Completion Form and submit an unofficial transcript. These forms may be submitted by e-mail or mail to:

Population Studies Certificate Program
Sociology Department
200 Hicks Way
Amherst, MA 01003

Degree-seeking University of Massachusetts students admitted into the program should expect to possibly take three or more of the required courses online through Continuing & Professional Education (CPE).

Certificate students who are not currently matriculated at the University of Massachusetts Amherst normally take all of their courses online through CPE.

Note: To receive the Certificate in Population Studies, a minimum 2.0 GPA must be maintained across courses applied to certificate requirements.


Students must take eighteen (18) credits:

  1. One required course (3 cr.):
    ​SOCIOL 261 Population Studies
    or Soc 232 (at Smith College)
  2. One (1) of the following substantive courses:

    SOCIOL 222 The Family
    SOCIOL 223 Work & Society
    SOCIOL 244 Sociology of Immigration
    SOCIOL 252 Intro to Human Rights
    SOCIOL 287 Sexuality & Society
    SOCIOL 316 Environment and Society
    SOCIOL 353 Sociology of Medicine
    SOCIOL 360 Urban Sociology
    SOCIOL 361 Demography of Minority Groups
    SOCIOL 385 Gender & the Family
    SOCIOL 388 Gender & Globalization
    SOCIOL 389 Sexuality by the Numbers
  3. SOCIOL 212 Statistics​
    (A statistics course in another department or college—such as PSYCH 240, PUBHLTH 223, or RES-ECON 212 may be substituted.)
  4. One (1) of the following methods courses:

    SOCIOL 213 Data Collection & Analysis
    SOCIOL 313 Survey Design and Analysis
    COMM 355 Behavioral Research in Communication
    GEOGRAPH 352 Computer Mapping
    POLSCI 328 Research Methods for Political and Social Sciences
    PSYCH 241 Methods of Inquiry in Psychology
    PUBHLTH 224 Epidemiology in Public Health
    RES-ECON 313 Quantitative Methods in Applied Economics

    (Some methods courses from the surrounding four colleges are acceptable as substitutes for these electives; see the chief undergraduate advisor for approval.)
  5. Two (2) elective courses:

    Global Development
    COMM 297A Intro Global Communication
    ECON 367 Post Independence African Development
    ECON 397D Latin American Economic Development
    GEOGRAPH 102 Diversity, Globalization, and Sustainability
    GEOGRAPH 360 Economic Geography
    GEOGRAPH 364 Geography of Development
    GEOGRAPH 450 Indigenous Peoples & Conservation
    POLSCI 290P Power, Privilege, and Inequality on a Global Scale
    RES-ECON 263 Natural Resource Economics

    GEOGRAPH 370 Urban Geography
    GEO-SCI 372 Urban Issues

    ANTHRO 218 Anthropology of Transnational Migration​
    BLST 294/EUST 294 Black Europe (at Amherst College)
    HISTORY 297E Immigration and Migration in the U.S. 1877–Present
    HISTORY 297U History of Refugees, Borders, and Migration
    LABOR 204 Labor & The Global Economy

    Global Environment
    ANTHRO 208 Human Ecology
    ECON 308 Political Economy of the Environment​
    ENVIRSCI 213 Introduction to Environmental Policy
    ENVIRSCI 214 Ecosystems, Biodiversity and Global Change
    GEOGRAPH 250 Natural Disasters
    GEOGRAPH 364 Geography of Development
    REGIONPL 587 People and the Environment

    ANTHRO 233 Kinship and Social Organization
    COMM 319 Health Communication
    PUBHLTH 200 Introduction to Public Health
    PUBHLTH 203 Intro to Environmental Health Sciences​
    PUBHLTH 224 Epidemiology in Public Health
    PUBHLTH 301 Principles of Community Health Education
    PUBHLTH 323 Public Health Communications
    PUBHLTH 390E Understanding Health Disparities
    PUBHLTH 397A ST-Intro to Global Health

    (Some courses from the surrounding four colleges are acceptable as substitutes for these electives, see the Chief Undergraduate Advisor for approval.)

To learn more, watch this informational video.