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Sociology and Education

In the Department of Education Policy & Social Analysis

Welcome to the Program in Sociology and Education

Sociology was the first social science discipline to develop a basic framework for the study of education, complementing long-established perspectives rooted in psychology and philosophy.  Sociology is both solidly theoretical and highly relevant to policy and practice in education. The sociological study of education began at Teachers College in the first decade of the twentieth century.  Since then, our Sociology and Education Program has educated aspiring researchers, policy makers, school leaders, and teachers to use sociological theories and research findings as they analyze educational problems and seek to have an impact in solving those problems.  Our focus has been broad – emphasizing educational issues in schools and colleges, but also looking at education in other contexts.  We explore education in individuals' lives across the lifespan, and we examine how education helps shape social life in urban areas and other settings, including international contexts.

The faculty for Sociology and Education includes our core program faculty as well as sociologists from other programs at Teachers College and in the Department of Sociology of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Columbia University.  Faculty strengths are in education and social stratification; organization theory and the social organization of schools, classrooms, and other learning environments; urban education; school desegregation and school choice; education and the life course; and the social analysis of education policy. The program faculty are actively engaged in research, including the analysis and evaluation of educational policies and programs designed to serve educationally disadvantaged populations.

The curriculum of the Sociology and Education program emphasizes issues in urban education, including the social organization of urban schools and school systems, and the success or failure of urban schools in meeting the educational needs of the diverse populations they serve. The program provides training and hands-on experience in evaluation methods and both quantitative and qualitative research methods.

The program in Sociology and Education also offers a Policy Studies Concentration for students in the M.A. and Ed.M. programs. For more information on this concentration, which is open to students throughout Teachers College, please contact Professor Aaron Pallas.

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