The Department of Sociology at Johns Hopkins opened for business in the fall of 1959 when James Coleman arrived from the University of Chicago to create a new and different kind of social science department. Originally named the Department of Social Relations, it began as a graduate program (the department’s undergraduate program was phased in some years later). A number of graduate students accompanied Professor Coleman from Chicago, which allowed us to confer our first PhD, Ray Breton, in record time – 1961.

We now are a full service Department of Sociology. We are heavily invested in our small, but distinguished undergraduate major, but remain true to the tradition of excellence in graduate education that Coleman established at the outset. Our PhD graduates are scattered throughout the world and contributing in all sorts of ways. Many have followed the traditional academic career path, but many others are working outside academia, in research, policy, government service, and program administration. A few are even in business for themselves as consultants in a variety of contexts.

We began as a different kind of place, and we remain so today. Many graduate programs in sociology historically have looked down on non-academic careers for their graduates as, at best, second best. Not us. Another legacy of Coleman’s original vision is the conviction that the tools of sociology are versatile and can be usefully deployed along many paths. For Coleman personally, it was using research to inform education policy. Our reach today now extends well beyond education, but the conviction that sociology can be, and should be, useful in the wider world remains ingrained.

The department’s PhD and MA graduates are our extended family. They are dispersed world-wide, but in our hearts remain near and dear. This section of our website is intended for them, but also for others who might be curious about what life beyond Hopkins holds when you move on from one of the world’s premier centers for graduate training in sociology.

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