Following in the intellectual tradition of James S. Coleman, the program emphasizes social theory and its application to education and the functioning of society. Offering training in quantitative and qualitative methods, students in sociology of education have worked as research assistants with the Consortium on School Research, Center for Urban School Improvement, National Opinion Research Center, and the Population Research Center. These assistantships provide students with opportunities to have first hand experiences with research projects of national significance. Graduates with this specialization are employed in sociology departments, school and colleges of education, and research institutes.
Research continues into relationships between the institution of education and systems of social stratification and into relationships between individuals' educational attainment and social mobility. Emerging directions of research include the analysis of educational reform in the urban setting, inquiry into efforts to improve school practice, and the social demography of talent in the United States.
Graduate training in the sociology of education at Chicago requires thorough theoretical preparation in the core areas of sociology and the development of advanced methodological skills. Much of the Department's research in the sociology of education involves methods for the analysis of survey data and for the estimation of multi-level models, given that educational data often arise in hierarchically structured populations. Many studies entail in-depth fieldwork in schools. Increasingly, students are combining qualitative inquiry with complex measurement, survey analysis, and statistical model estimation.
Under the guidance of its newly appointed director, Stephen Raudenbush, the Committee on Education will be adding new staff and faculty starting in the 2005-06 academic year. The new Committee will bring together distinguished faculty from several departments and schools considered to be among the best in the world into common research projects, seminars and training programs. The Committee will engage faculty and graduate students from such areas as public policy, social service administration, economics, business, mathematics and the sciences to collaborate on the most critical issues affecting urban schools.