Fall 2014 Cohort

Resources for Research

We encourage our students to begin doing original research early in their graduate careers. Before advancing to candidacy, all students write at least one empirical comprehensive paper (a 30-page double-spaced paper that is submitted to an academic journal), so that students learn the process of journal publishing. Students are also encouraged to apply for pre-dissertation and dissertation funding, both from external sponsors and from the university.  Many of our graduate students develop impressive funding and publication records while still in graduate school.

Graduate students can take courses in methods, statistics, ethnography, interviewing, comparative historical methods, social network methods, and other topics in Sociology, and also take advanced methods courses in other departments, including courses on panel data, advanced network analysis, content analysis, spatial analysis, interpreting qualitative data, performance ethnography, and anthropological methods.

Graduate student research is also supported by faculty, chosen by the students, who provide feedback and support on papers, dissertation proposals, and dissertation chapters. There are opportunities for graduate students to collaborate with faculty on shared interests. In addition, graduate students can apply to work as Research Assistants on research projects, both during the semester and over breaks. Some students also find positions as Research Assistants to faculty outside of Sociology.

There is additional funding available to support graduate student research through the Graduate School, as well as through the Sociology department. The Graduate School offers some fellowships to incoming students who are nominated by their department, as well as grants to support pre-dissertation and dissertation research. The Sociology department also offers opportunities for summer research funding for students not covered by Graduate School funding. More information about funding appears on the Funding Opportunities page.

There are also a number of research supports that students can access, including:

  • The Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR) provides a number of research opportunities for graduate students, including Research Assistantships and consulting work. ISSR offers workshops on a variety of methodologies and offers methods training through consultations and workshops, as well as computer facilities. The campus is a member of the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), which provides access to a wide array of social science data and methodological training.
  • The Computational Social Science Institute provides opportunities to learn more about computational modeling and methods, and allows faculty from a range of disciplines to interact and learn from one another.
  • The Center for Research on Families (CRF) provides support for research on the family, providing funding for students to work with faculty on their research, and offers methods training through consultations and workshops.
  • The Graduate School’s Office of Professional Development provides regular workshops and trainings on a range of topics, including developing healthy writingpractices, and writing research proposals.
  • The University Libraries maintain major research collections, including data sets, government documents and an extensive law collection. It is also home to the nationally-known W.E.B. Dubois Center for the study of race, labor, and social justice, as well as the W.E.B. Du Bois Papers and other specialized collections. The UMass library is supplemented by full access to the libraries of Amherst, Smith, Mount Holyoke, and Hampshire colleges.

Every year, we make awards to graduate students for Best Comps Papers in the preceding year, Best Conference Paper preceding year, as well as the recently endowed Page Scholarship, which recognizes the Best Theoretical Paper.