Health, Population and the Life Course

Mission Statement

Our department’s program in health, population and life course provides students the theoretical and methodological tools to examine the complex linkages between macrosocial phenomena and individual-level experiences. Through course work, independent research, collaborative research with faculty, and symposia featuring renowned scholars, students develop an understanding of the ways in which macro-level structural and temporal processes, and cultural belief systems affect individual-level social, psychological, and physical outcomes. This area combines two traditional fields of strength at Rutgers:  medical sociology and life course studies, with a new emphasis on population studies. Medical sociology has long been an area of strength at Rutgers University since the late 1970s when David Mechanic established the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research (IHHCPAR). IHHCPAR houses an NIMH funded postdoctoral program in mental health research, and an undergraduate summer program on health research (Project Learn). According to Samuel Bloom’s 2002 book The Word as Scalpel: A History of Medical Sociology (Oxford University Press), “the Rutgers program is a model of today’s most successful medical sociology academic operations.”

The life course area also has a long tradition, originating at Rutgers during the 1960s. One of the major paradigms in this area, the age stratification model, was developed at Rutgers by Matilda White Riley, Anne Foner, and others. Current faculty are key investigators on longitudinal research projects focus on various stages of the life course. In the past decade, several social demographers have joined our department, creating expertise in population studies that complements the traditional strengths in medical sociology and the life course. Our most recent graduates have secured positions as tenure-track assistant professors, postdoctoral fellows, or research scientists at prestigious institutions including  the Bloustein School of Public Policy at Rutgers University,  Brown University, Goucher College, Princeton University, RAND Corporation, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, University of Minnesota, University of North Carolina-Charlotte,  and Virginia Commonwealth University.


Departmental Chair
Julie Phillips

Graduate Director
Steven Brechin