Michigan’s Department of Sociology is one of the nation’s oldest and most distinguished programs in the country. Consistently rated among the top departments, Michigan Sociology has played a key role in defining the nature of the discipline. We have been at the forefront of the most exciting developments within the field over the past half century.  Michigan’s distinguished faculty are also among the most international in the United States, with areas of research covering all the continents, putting our Department and our students at the forefront of globalization issues.

Historically, Michigan's program has been known for its pioneering research and training in survey research and quantitative methods. However, as nationally prominent scholars specializing in field research and comparative historical methods have joined the faculty over the last twenty years, the Department now offers first-rate, rigorous training in qualitative methods that complements its continued, traditional strength in quantitative research strategies.  In order to maintain this national stature we must continue to attract the best faculty and students and support them in their efforts to conduct cutting-edge research in the field of sociology today.


The study of sociology provides fascinating and distinctive perspectives on the social world, generating new ideas while critiquing the old.  The field offers a range of research techniques that can be applied to virtually any aspect of social life: street crime and delinquency, corporate downsizing, family dynamics, global issues of peace and war, or changing attitudes about race and gender.  Because sociology addresses the most challenging issues of our time, it is a rapidly expanding, intellectually dynamic field with broad policy implications.  Indeed, sociologists are increasingly involved in crafting the policies and programs that shape the world we live in today.

Coupled with the University’s liberal arts education, students develop strong writing, analytical, statistical, and methodological skills.  Michigan Sociology students have entered many different careers and areas of advanced study such as Architecture, Business, Education, Criminal Justice, International Relations, Law, Medicine, Public Administration, Social Research, and Social Work.  


The support of our alumni and friends has become increasingly important for our awards programs and extra-classroom educational activities. Your gifts provide our students with expanded opportunities to exercise their "sociological imaginations" as active learners, independent researchers and concerned citizens.
Here are some areas where your support is needed.

Named Professorship $2 million
Endowed professorships, or chairs, have long been recognized as both a hallmark of academic quality and a means by which a university honors its most esteemed scholars and teachers.  Professorships are reserved for scholars of national, or even international, stature, with highly distinguished records of teaching, research, and publication.  They constitute a time-honored way to recruit or retain highly distinguished scholars with exceptional records of achievement.

Historical Sociology Initiative $2 million
Historical Sociology is one of the most exciting developing areas in the field of Sociology.  Currently ranked first nationally in the area of historical sociology, the Department is actively setting the research agenda in this rapidly growing field of inquiry.  Establishing a Center of Excellence in this area is necessary for sustaining a robust intellectual environment capable of utilizing a deeper understanding of the past to help us address many of the contemporary challenges facing our society and the world.  Such centers are essential to house and maintain major research efforts, to provide funds to recruit additional faculty, students and staff, and to provide a forum for sociologists from the US and abroad to come to Ann Arbor to interact with and collaborate with the Department’s ongoing program.  A fund of $2 million would be the catalyst that would allow us to create the world’s premier historical sociology program.

Graduate Fellowships and Research Support $1 million endowed, $50,000 annually
Graduate students are the faculty of the future.  To compete for the most outstanding graduate students, who will work closely with faculty on research and who will teach undergraduate students, the Department must be able to offer competitive support.  The Department is very strong in recruiting students from abroad, with approximately 25% of the graduate student cohort coming from other countries.  One of our greatest needs is in supporting our most promising students from developing countries.  Collaborating with a faculty member is one of the most educationally rewarding experiences a student can have during their academic career.  This kind of concentrated focus on research often takes place in the summer when students are away from Ann Arbor conducting archival research and fieldwork.  Our goal is ensure that every student is able to take advantage of these rich collaborative opportunities regardless of financial need.  A named endowed Graduate Student Fellowship can be established with a gift of $750,000, and with an additional gift of $250,000, you can ensure that students are able to spend the summer in fruitful collaboration with faculty on research.

Department Strategic Fund $100,000
Expendable, undesignated gifts are vital to the continuing success and growth of the Department.  Contributions to the Strategic Fund make it possible to meet unexpected needs and challenges such as:

  • Seed funding for faculty research projects ($5,000 expendable, $100,000 endowed)
  • Library and computer lab maintenance and upgrades ($25,000 per year)
  • Graduate student conferences highlighting the Department's scholarship ($15,000 per conference).
  • Creating venues for intellectual engagement and opportunities for all department members to engage intellectually in ways that strengthen collegiality ($5,000 per year).

Honors Program $50,000
Honors classes are typically small and allow students to interact with senior faculty who are especially committed to undergraduate education.  Students have the opportunity to conduct independent research leading to an honors thesis under the supervision of established scholars who are widely respected in their fields.  The completion of an independent project encourages self-confidence that benefits our students whether they enter business, the professions, academe, or politics.

Undergraduate Initiatives $15,000 in annual gifts
Donor support is urgently needed for a wide range of activities that enhance the undergraduate experience in Sociology.  These include career and mentoring programs; travel and transportation funds for students attending conferences and national meetings; Sociology Club activities; and the presentation of films including facilitated discussions of popular culture.  Support is also needed to fund civic activities that enhance learning and research about societal issues.  This type of extra-curricular enrichment creates important opportunities for faculty-student engagement and intellectual growth.  Here are some ways you can help.

  • A gift of $15,000 will fully support an undergraduate seminar course for one semester.  Undergraduate seminars feature small class size, greater access to faculty, and a particularly rich, interactive learning experience.
  • A gift of $5,000 will help pay student travel and registration fees for attending national and international conferences.
  • A gift of $3,500 will fund student-initiated educational activities for one year.

All donors will be eligible for Presidential Society Recognition opportunities, including the President's Club ($15,000), the Tappan Society ($50,000) and the Hutchins Society ($100,000).