Melissa Osborne

She/They, Assistant Professor

Current Courses

Sociology of Education 

Sociology of Higher Education

Classical Sociological Theory

Homelessness and Housing Policy

Community Engaged Research methods (Capstone)

Understanding the Social World Through Games (Honors)


PhD University of Chicago, 2019

MA University of Chicago, 2015

BA Reed College, 2013

AA Umpqua Community College, 2010

My primary research centers on social mobility, inequality, and the role that organizations play in shaping individuals’ pathways and experiences. I have published research that explores this dynamic in the contexts of education, social services, law, and medicine. My forthcoming book, Polished: Negotiating the Cost of Social Mobility in College, examines how selective colleges reshape first-generation students and considers the impact this process has on these students as they navigate expected and unexpected challenges during college.

I have authored and co-authored a selection of peer-reviewed journal articles on social mobility, social inequality across different organizational contexts that have appeared in American Sociological Review, Society & Mental Health, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Journal of Graduate Medical Education, Annual Review of Law and Social Sciences, and Contexts.

I was a first-generation student from a working class background that started my academic trajectory as a non-traditional adult learner in community college. My journey from that starting point to becoming a professor at Western is something I am happy to chat about. I am here to support students in the sociology department. Feel free to reach out to me via email!

Research Interests

  • Social mobility, inequality and stratification, education, organizations, social theory, culture, qualitative methods

Curriculum Vitae: