"Not only did I gain a broad theoretical and methodological approach, I also enjoy the inspiring, interdisciplinary context offered in the CDSS program." Mascha Rauschenbach, CDSS


Sociology is an empirical science of society as an integrated system and the various social institutions, of social groups and communities, the relationship between the individual and society, social processes and the laws of human crowd behavior.

Studies and Research

The CDSS administers the PhD Program in Sociology in close collaboration with the Department of Sociology at the University of Mannheim, which has an outstanding reputation due to its strength in empirical and analytical research, using innovative quantitative techniques in its research designs.

The Department offers thorough theoretical and methodological training. Sociological Theory, Comparative Sociology, Stratification Research, Economic Sociology, Social Psychology, and Quantitative Research methods are the main areas of focus in research and teaching at the Department. Its faculty have made significant contributions to macro-sociology, e.g. in the comparison of welfare states, health (insurance) systems, and economic regimes. They also examine timely micro-sociological issues, such as educational decisions, mechanisms of social stratification and mobility, family arrangements, and the integration of migrants within European societies, making the department one of the most productive and respected ones in Europe. Its publications engage a wide range of social theories. Most notably, the faculty have contributed to Rational Choice Theory. The close cooperation with the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES) and the Leibniz Institute for Social Research (GESIS) facilitates interdisciplinary research and offers students an opportunity to gain valuable research experience.

The PhD Program in Sociology has an emphasis on advanced training in the empirical analysis of social phenomena. Students may choose courses from the following topical areas of sociology:

  • Family, Education & Labor Markets: Courses and research projects deal with the following questions: What is the cause of social inequality, and how can it be resolved? What is the relationship between family background and social mobility? What is the relationship between education and chances in the job market? How can demographic changes in modern societies, such as the increasing divorce rates or the decreasing birth rates, be explained?
  • Migration & Integration: The main themes consider questions on integration of immigrant and ethnic stratification: To what extent does migration lead to ethnic inequality? How can individual integration be explained in the context of international migration?
  • Economy & the Welfare State: Courses focus on economic sociological and economic political questions: Which political institutions enhance economic development? How does the societal acceptance of welfare states change? How do labor unions in Europe change? What role do social partners play during reform processes of welfare states?

Topical coursework is complemented by training in methods of empirical social research. Advanced courses provide students with the tools for rigorous and thorough theoretical and empirical analysis. They learn how to deal with event history data and panel data, experimental and survey designs, network analysis, game theory and causal analysis. Furthermore, PhD students are free to pursue their particular interests by attending additional CDSS courses offered on a great variety of methods of empirical research.