University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

Kathy Quirk

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Jun 16, 2010 
New doctoral programs for UWM

New PhD programs for UWM 

The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents formally approved two new University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee doctoral programs at its June meeting, bringing the total number of doctoral programs at the university to 31. The board approved doctorates in Sociology and Freshwater Sciences and Technology as well as an M.S. in Freshwater Sciences and Technology.

“When I arrived six years ago, I indicated that as a doctoral research university we needed to increase the number of Ph.D. programs on our campus,” said Chancellor Carlos E. Santiago. “These newly approved doctoral degree-granting programs get us closer to our goal of becoming a premier urban research university that this region so desperately needs.”

The new programs address unique needs and strengths of UWM and the Southeastern Wisconsin area, including Milwaukee’s large and diverse population and its location at a freshwater industry center on Lake Michigan. All three programs will include evening sessions to meet the needs of nontraditional and working students.

“These new degrees will spur scholarly activity and increase the university’s reputation as a premier research university,” said Interim Provost Johannes Britz.

Freshwater Sciences

The programs in freshwater sciences will build on the long-standing strength of UWM research programs in freshwater science and technology, says Mark Harris, acting dean of UWM’s new School of Freshwater Sciences, which was approved by the legislature in 2009. The school will take a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach, setting it apart from most other doctoral programs in water sciences.

“The primary objective of the program is to produce graduates who are experts in freshwater sciences and technology, with the skills to collaborate with other disciplines, policymakers and the general public,” according to the summary presented to the Board of Regents.

The focus of both the doctoral and master’s programs will be to explore and discover promising concepts and methods for sustainable and equitable use of freshwater resources worldwide.

The doctoral program is focused on developing the next generation of water scientists, says Harris. The master’s program in freshwater sciences will include both a thesis track and a professional track, allowing graduates to continue into additional graduate studies or join the work force. Students will be admitted for both programs in fall 2010.

For more information on both freshwater sciences programs, go to


The doctorate in Sociology, housed in the College of Letters and Science, will build on the Department of Sociology’s strong existing master’s program, established in 1964. Sociology’s new doctoral program intends to enroll students for fall 2011. (More information is available at

“Graduates of UWM’s Sociology master’s program consistently are accepted into premier doctoral programs around the country,” says Rodney Swain, associate dean of the College of Letters and Science. “Due to their advanced quantitative skills, these students are also highly sought after by major corporations.”

In surveys in 2007 and 2009, students indicated a preference for continuing their doctoral studies in the Milwaukee area. Among the master’s students who planned to continue for a doctorate, all but one indicated they would be interested in continuing at UWM if a doctoral program were available.

“The new program will be critical to further grow the research programs of faculty in Sociology, and it will serve the unique needs of the region in training students in the core areas of social inequalities and social institutions,” according to the summary presented to the regents.

There is a growing need for doctorally prepared sociologists in both the academic world and other sectors, according to the summary. Nationally, 32 percent of sociology faculty members are projected to retire by 2012, while undergraduate interest in the field has been growing.

Local employers, in both for-profit and nonprofit organizations, have a strong relationship with the department, hiring graduates of the master’s program as researchers and analysts, and have indicated interest in students with doctorates who can provide sophisticated analysis of social data.

Milwaukee and UWM’s diverse populations also offer expanded research areas for students and faculty. In addition, the program’s close ties with the McNair Scholars program, which targets underrepresented groups, offers an opportunity to further increase the diversity of the department and the field.