Curriculum

The Core Courses

These course recommendations exist for several reasons. First, in a rapidly changing and interdisciplinary field such as Development Sociology, there still remains a need for graduate degree holders to have some common core of training. Second, students with this basic theoretical and methodological background are at a competitive advantage in the current job market, both academic and non-academic. Third, given that the Field sometimes admits graduate students without sociological theory and methodology training, such students will particularly benefit from taking this core before going on for a PhD. Equivalent core courses may be substituted from Cornell or elsewhere, with permission of your special committee chair. Graduate fields at Cornell, including Development Sociology, have no mandatory course work requirements nor credit hours to be earned, and courses can be taken within any school or department at Cornell. However, the Field of Development Sociology has a set of four core courses which are highly recommended to all students. They should be completed within the first year for all MS/PhD students, regardless of when the MS is completed.

The four Core Courses are:

  • Classical Sociological Theory
  • Sociological Theories of Development
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Qualitative Methods

It is important that all students entering Development Sociology take these courses in a similar sequence in order to maximize the cohort effect of learning similar subjects within a similar group of people. This may not always be possible, but is strongly encouraged by the Field.

Since course offerings vary from year to year, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies to help plan your schedule.


We feel that all graduate students should enter the program with or otherwise take at least one entry-level statistical method such as Statistics for the Social Sciences course offered through Cornell's Industrial and Labor Relations School (ILRST 5100) or Statistical Methods offered through Biometry (BTRY 6010) (other equivalents exist). The former is offered both Fall and Spring semesters; the latter in Fall and Summer. We are aware that this prescription, both in content and timing, is challenging, especially for students with little previous theory and methods in sociology. The advantage of this demanding first-year plan is that you will have considerable freedom in your second year to tackle your Master’s thesis and be well prepared from a course-standpoint to accomplish it.