Posted on August 28, 2023 by Amanda Cerreto

students in classroom

students in classroom

The UTSA Departments of Demography and Sociology will officially merge into one department on September 1. The move will allow the departments to pool resources, enhance research collaborations across faculty, strengthen the ability to attract external research funding and provide students with an even stronger skillset upon graduation.

Both programs are housed in the UTSA College for Health, Community and Policy (HCAP). Demography and sociology share a strong foundation and many similarities in their undergraduate and graduate programs of study.

Students with undergraduate degrees in sociology will often pursue graduate studies in demography, building on their strong foundation in statistics, research and population studies. Merging the departments will make that track more seamless and allow students to continue learning from the university’s demography faculty.

“A merger is also important because it will minimize barriers for students and faculty to work together across the two programs.”

“This merger and creation of the Department of Sociology and Demography will enhance student success in all of our programs,” said Ray Swisher, chair of the new department. “Students will have expanded access to faculty, expanded course offerings, the ability to develop a more diverse methodological toolkit and enhanced opportunities to pursue multiple pathways from the classroom to careers.” 

In addition, the sociology graduate program is quite active, with more than 60 students each year in residence. Combining these two academic departments will allow for greater collaboration between students in each discipline.

“The merging of these programs is appropriate because all of our demographers are also sociologists. A merger is also important because it will minimize barriers for students and faculty to work together across the two programs,” added HCAP Dean Lynne Cossman. “Over the coming years, we hope to see more students transition from our undergraduate programs into our master’s degrees in sociology and demography and the doctoral program in demography—and also the college-wide doctoral program in applied community research that is expected to launch in fall 2025.”

The new department will offer the university’s B.S. in health, aging and society; B.A. in sociology; M.S. in applied demography; M.S. in sociology; and Ph.D. in applied demography. Graduates from these programs have pursued careers in research for such organizations as the City of San Antonio and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Graduates have also found careers as post-secondary teachers, survey researchers, medical and health service managers and more.

The disciplines of sociology and demography produce graduates who are embedded in community organizations. The community-based nature of these programs provide students with many opportunities for experiential learning, including undergraduate research and presentations at the Spring Research Colloquium, internships and leadership opportunities with the Sociology Honors organization.

Additional internship opportunities are available through connections to multiple governmental, nonprofit and for-profit organizations in the local community including the San Antonio R&D League, San Antonio Department of Human Services, Methodist Healthcare Ministries, USAA, UT Health San Antonio and the San Antonio Fire Department Community Risk Reduction program.

UTSA is a Tier One research university and a Hispanic Serving institution that is committed to tackling society’s grand challenges through world-class education and research programs. By combining these two strong research-based programs, HCAP will continue its mission to advance human health and affect change for complex social issues. 

To learn more about the new department, please visit our website.

— Amanda Cerreto