Rural Sociology

Rural Sociology is a top ranked program that provides education, research, and outreach on issues of relevance to rural society domestically and across the globe. Our research addresses critical questions within four signature thematic areas, including: agriculture and food systems, community and international development, natural resources and environment, and rural social demography.

Undergraduate Majors and Minors

Community, Environment, and Development (CED

Our faculty support this interdisciplinary social science degree designed for students to develop the knowledge and critical skills needed to work with individuals, communities, governments, and organizations to solve the tough problems facing society today.

Graduate Programs

The highly-ranked Rural Sociology Graduate Program provides MS and PhD students with the highest quality educational and research experiences. We are a vibrant, dynamic program that develops and disseminates research on rural people and places both domestically and internationally. Our program faculty have core strength in the discipline of sociology and a commitment to conducting applied and interdisciplinary research with colleagues in the social, natural, and biophysical sciences. Our graduates have gone on to launch highly successful careers in research and teaching at all types of universities and colleges, in government, and in non-governmental research organizations.

Rural Sociology Graduate Program:

Master of Science (MS)

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

We also offer students from other Penn State graduate programs the opportunity to have a Rural Sociology graduate minor.

Graduate students may receive additional interdisciplinary training through enrolling in one of four Penn State dual-degree programs. Students may receive M.S. and/or Ph.D. degrees in Rural Sociology and any one of the following four options: Demography, Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and the Environment, International Agriculture and Development, or Women's Studies.

Dual Title Graduate Degrees

  • Demography
  • Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and the Environment (HDNRE)
  • International Agriculture and Development (INTAD)
  • Women’s Studies

Rural Sociology Graduate Association

The Rural Sociology Graduate Association is highly active and conducts an annual Rural Studies Conference that attracts undergraduate and graduate students from multiple disciplines and universities.

 The Community and Economic Development (CEDEV) Graduate Program provides individuals with the knowledge and skills to work with citizens and leaders to establish and maintain viable communities and community organizations.

Research Centers, Institutes, and Initiatives

Penn State's Center for Economic and Community Development (CECD) helps create new opportunities for people living throughout Pennsylvania

Penn State's Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development (NERCRD) is one of four federally-funded regional centers coordinating rural development research in the U.S.  The NERCRD coordinates the initiatives of the rural development faculty from the 15 land-grant institutions in the Northeast region.

The Pennsylvania Women's Agricultural Network (PA-WAgN) supports women in agriculture by providing positive learning environments, networking, and empowerment opportunities.

Gender Research and Integrated Training (GRIT)

Penn State has been awarded funds to partner with the CGIAR Gender and Agriculture Research Network to strengthen research capacity on gender, enhance the quality of gender research in CGIAR, provide strategies for interdisciplinary collaboration, and increase publication in high quality journals with the ultimate goals of providing benefits to poor rural women and men and empowering women and girls.