The Institute of Sociology at the University of Bern was founded in 1960 and is the oldest institute of sociology in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. It is part of the faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences. The institute includes four full professorships: one for general sociology (Prof. Dr. Christian Joppke), one for methods of empirical social research (Prof. Dr. Axel Franzen), one for structural social analysis (Prof. Dr. Ben Jann) and one for sustainable social development (Prof. Dr. Ulf Liebe). The institute currently also hosts a Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) research professorship in the sociology of education and employment (Prof. Dr. Christian Imdorf).
According to Bologna regulations teaching at the institute has been divided into three levels. The first three years (undergraduate studies) are dedicated to general studies of social sciences. Undergraduate students are introduced to all disciplines of the faculty during the first year. The second and third year concentrate on political science and sociology. Undergraduate studies are completed with the degree “Bachelor of Arts in Social Science” (180 ECTS-points).
On the postgraduate level the institute offers a course over three terms leading to the master degree (90 ECTS-points) which is a so called mono-master. It is based exclusively on sociology without any subsidiary subjects. Master studies are completed with the acquirement of the Master of Arts in Sociology.
Especially talented and ambitious students are offered an opportunity to continue their studies for another three to four years and acquire the title of Doctor Rerum Socialium. Applicants for the doctorate need to be accepted by a professor at the institute who will act as their advisor. The main focus of these postgraduate studies is on the writing of a dissertation, which is normally either a monograph or a collection of scientific articles.
The main research areas at the institute are comparative political sociology, migration studies, religion, culture, environmental sociology, game theory, network and social capital research, sustainable social development, as well as education, labour markets and social inequality. Since 2014, the institute also hosts the SNSF funded project 'Transitions from Education to Employment' (TREE).