The California Center for Population Research (CCPR) is a newly established center at UCLA for basic social science and public health research on human populations and comprises 90 faculty researchers from the disciplines of sociology, economics, community health sciences, geography, policy studies, and history. In collaboration with CCPR, two UCLA departments – Sociology and Community Health Sciences (CHS) — offer doctoral (PhD and DrPH) students the opportunity to specialize in demography. Doctoral students in Economics and several other departments can also specialize in demography by special arrangement and the Economics Department will soon have its own program for students specializing in demography.
Students specializing in demography complete the normal course requirements in their home department, take specialized courses in demographic methods, theory and research, become part of the CCPR community, and have multiple opportunities to work with CCPR faculty on major research projects. Fellowship support is also available for well qualified doctoral students specializing in demography. The doctoral programs with specialization in demography in Community Health Sciences and Sociology are described below.
Doctoral Specialization in Demography in Community Health Sciences and Sociology
Students planning on specialized training in demography generally apply to CHS if their interests are more centrally in the area of public health and to Sociology if their interests are more centrally in social science. Demography students in each department complete departmental requirements for the doctoral degree which are described for CHS on http://www.ph.ucla.edu/chs/degree_programs_offered.htm and for the Sociology Department on http://www.sociology.ucla.edu/content/program . Demography students in both departments also complete the following.
Specialized Demography Courses
Doctoral students in both departments complete a two-quarter graduate course sequence on Theory and Research in Demography. This course is a critical examination of population theories and major empirical research in demography. Students also complete one or more graduate courses in demographic methods which equip them with basic tools of demography, and in statistical research methods. In addition to providing solid groundwork at an advanced level in demography and population studies, these courses also provide a vehicle for demography students in different departments to get to know each other and CCPR affiliated faculty.
Students in each department also take several electives in demography. Students can choose from courses on fertility and family planning, health and mortality, the demography of China, family demography, immigration, economic demography, the demography of women, reproductive health, the demography of Los Angeles, and many other areas.
Population Training Program
Demography students also regularly attend the CCPR Training Seminar, which meets weekly. This seminar includes presentations of demographic research, both completed and in progress, by CCPR Faculty, other UCLA researchers who are doing work of demographic interest, off-campus visitors to UCLA, and advanced graduate students. In addition, the seminar is used for presentations on ethical issues in social research, for publicizing new data resources and extramural funding opportunities, and for didactic workshops on topics not covered in formal courses. Advanced graduate students are expected to present their own work in this seminar series.
Demography students in both department also complete a research apprenticeship with one of the CCPR affiliated faculty. The objective is for the student to learn the craft of demography research through hands on experience through close collaboration with one or more experienced demographic researchers.
Attending Professional Meetings
An essential component of specialization in demography is regular attendance at professional meetings. Students generally attend the annual meetings of the Population Association of America and, after their first year of graduate study, to present a paper or poster at those meetings.
Qualifying Exams and Dissertation
Demography students generally complete a qualifying or field exam in demography. Subsequently they develop a dissertation topic on a demographic issue, under the supervision of their faculty committee.
Career Paths for Students Specializing in Demography
Student who complete their doctoral degree in CHS or Sociology with a specialization in demography generally go on to careers as: (1) professors and researchers in social science departments or public health schools at universities, (2) government researchers at institutions such as the U.S. Census Bureau, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Center for Health Statistics, and the National Institutes of Health, (3) applied and policy careers with government or private agencies such as the state of California, federal agencies, social welfare organizations, and population-related organizations. CCPR-affiliated faculty work closely with students as they are completing their dissertations to decide the type of position they are looking for and to make contacts with potential employers. Many doctoral trainees initially take a post-doctoral fellowship in demography after graduate school, in order to launch their research career before taking a position as a faculty member or researcher.
How to Apply to Doctoral Programs Specializing in Demography at UCLA
The graduate admissions process for all departments and schools at UCLA is described at http://www.gdnet.ucla.edu/prospective.html. Students applying to CHS in the School of Public Health or to the Sociology Department who want to be considered for specialization in demography should make sure to indicate their interest in demography in their application materials.