PhD in Demography & Population Studies, Graduate Training Program


The Population Studies Center (PSC) is a renowned research and training center within the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan supporting diverse,  innovative, ethical, and productive researchers cross-trained in social science and demography.

Our graduate training program in demography is a non-degree granting program that supplements the specific requirements of a student’s PhD program with specialized training in demography. The program combines formal coursework, informal seminars, and a research apprenticeship program grounded in PSC’s rich interdisciplinary environment. To be eligible for the PSC training program students must be admitted into one of the following University PhD departments and indicate their desire to participate in the PSC demography training program:

  • Sociology
  • Economics
  • Public Health, Health Behavior and Health Education
  • Public Policy

Why apply for PSC training?

The aim of our training program is to produce a diverse population of social scientists, fully trained in their disciplines, who have broad knowledge in population studies, strong skills in statistical and demographic techniques, and the ability to undertake independent research on a range of population topics.

Apprenticeship: A key component of the Center’s graduate training is an apprenticeship program in which students gain practical research experience under the supervision of a PSC researcher. This apprenticeship involves 12 hours of work per week, in training and research under the guidance of their mentor, until completion of the dissertation prospectus. Work might include performing calculations, using computerized statistical packages, making data tables, doing bibliographic searches, abstracting articles, creating a special project geared toward a joint publication with their supervisor, or submission of work to professional conferences.

Career enablement: The ability of trainees to use the methods and theories of demography alongside outstanding disciplinary training produces scholars who generate and disseminate knowledge relevant to health and wellbeing from positions in government, academia, and research and policy organizations.

A learning community: This apprenticeship is supplemented by a variety of other activities at the Center. For example, trainees may attend optional summer courses offered by the University’s Institute for Social Research, the Survey Research Center, and the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research, covering sampling, survey design, instrumentation, and advanced methods of statistical analysis and population science. PSC also offers regular seminars such as  weekly “brown bag” seminars, the Economic Demography and Labor Seminar in the Department of Economics, and seminars on the demography of aging.

Center resources: Workspace in the Center is available for trainees, allowing them to share and collaborate on ideas, data sources, and techniques. Students have access to staff support, conference rooms, meeting spaces, and computing services support for file and data storage, printing, web and email services, and end-user assistance for research projects. Additionally students have access to resources broadly available at the Institute of Social Research.

Financial support: Opportunities include training fellowships for PhD students supported by federal National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants awarded to the PSC from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the National Institute on Aging (NIA)– providing tuition, health insurance, and stipends to offset living expenses. While only U.S. Citizens and U.S. Permanent Residents are eligible for federally funded fellowships, students often receive support from a variety of additional sources, including University of Michigan fellowships, departmental teaching fellowships, and national and international agencies. PSC Small Grant Awards funded by Center endowments are also available to PSC trainees to support research, training and professional development activities such as travel for conference presentations. The Center subsidizes student attendance at the annual meetings of the Population Association of America, a scientific, professional organization established to promote and support high-quality population research.

Application Procedures

Students must apply to the relevant University PhD departments and indicate their desire to participate in the PSC demography training program. They should also write to the Training Program Manager to communicate their wish to be considered for the program.

Students are typically admitted to  the training program only in the fall term, so all inquiries should be made in advance of the fall term and by no later than early August.