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Jacob Richard Thomas


United States




Sociology (4th year Ph. D student)

Jacob Richard Thomas****

I grew up in a multicultural suburb in the San Francisco Bay Area where I was very fortunate to have 4 excellent adult intellectual mentors and plenty of extracurricular programs while in high school that enriched my life beyond the classroom. As an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, I started out as a Business Administration major as I wanted to be a publisher, but later on I switched to an interdisciplinary studies field major because I became very fascinated with globalization and the university had many experts in this phenomena. Through this transitions my grades rose despite the fact that I took more and more classes, and culminated with a 300+ page A+ honors thesis which my professor encouraged me to publish.
Instead, I became so distracted by what the world had to teach me, that I began traveling around Europe and staying in people's homes. Although I originally planned to begin a Masters program, I instead became more intrigued by the massage branch of Chinese medicine so returned to Berkeley to train for 1200 hours in Acupressure Therapy, specializing in women's health. Only after I spent another 8 years traveling through 141 countries did I discover a research question that would pull me back to graduate school.
However, the road back was rough, because I thought many Ph.D programs are reluctant to take so-called "non-traditional students." Instead, several offered me Masters Program (partly funded) and I accepted the most promising one at University of Chicago, where I studied political theory and qualitative research methods. After I wrote an excellent thesis there, I applied again to 20 Ph.D programs while teaching English and European and American culture at Beijing Foreign Studies University, and received acceptance to 10. I chose UCLA because at the time it had the strongest programs in social stratification and international migration, a large faculty that put great value in methodological training and professional development, and an excellent location to pursue my research question.


- Spanish, Mandarin, Portuguese, French, Russian

Education & Experience

- MA (UCLA Sociology), MA (University of Chicago Social Sciences), BA (UC Berkeley)


- Institute for Humane Studies PhD Scholarship

- Boren National Security Fellowship

- Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship to Study Mandarin Chinese

- UCLA Graduate Summer Research Mentorship Program (2015)

- Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship to Study Mandarin Chinese for Academic Year

- UCLA Graduate Summer Research Mentorship Program (2014)

- UCLA Stipend Fellowship for First Year Study 2012-2013

- University Un-endowed Scholarship for Masters of Arts Program in Social Sciences

- UC Berkeley Cal Grant (1998-2002)

- Institute for American Cultures Grant

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