Maria Kefalas, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice
Office: Merion Hall 321
Phone: (610) 660-2618

Maria Kefalas is a professor in the department of  sociology and criminal justice, she also serves as advisor to the criminal justice PLS and graduate programs. 

Professor Kefalas earned a BA from Wellesley College in economics and worked at the Brookings Institution before receiving  her MA and Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Chicago. After completing a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania and teaching at Barnard College-Columbia University, she joined the faculty of Saint Joseph's University in 2001.

She is the author of numerous books and articles: Professor Kefalas lectures widely on topics ranging from working-class America, single and teen moms, and rural America.

Her book, Promises I Can Keep, received the American Sociological Association's William Goode distinguished book prize.  

She has received grants from the Department of Justice, the John D. and Catherine T.  MacArthur Foundation, and the William T. Grant Foundation. In 2009, she advised the Mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter, on youth violence prevention efforts. A Department of Justice Edward Byrne Grant funded her research on youth perceptions of the police and snitching. And she produced a series anti-violence videos scripted by and starring young Philadelphians.  Her writings have  appeared in The Washington Post, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Huffington Post,  The Root, and Slate . Her most recent paper (with Pat Carr and Susan Clampet Lundquist) studies snitching in Philadelphia neighborhoods. She teaches courses on urban inequality, classical social theory, youth and the transition to adulthood, social problems, criminal justice ethics and policy, and crime and communities. 

She is currently writing a memoir (for  Beacon Press) titled Excruciating Joy, it is based on her experiences caring for her terminally-ill daughter, Cal. 


B.A. Economics, Wellesley College
M.A.& Ph.D. Sociology, University of Chicago 


Kefalas, Maria, Carr, Patrick and Susan Clampet Lundquist. "The Rules for Snitching." The Root. May 17, 2011. (

Kefalas, Maria, Frank Furstenberg, Patrick Carr, and Laura Napolitano. "Marriage Planners and Marriage Naturalists: How the Transition to Adulthood Structures Marriage," Journal of Family Issues, July 2011, Volume 32(7): 845-875. [First published online February 23, 2011]

Carr, Patrick, and Maria Kefalas. 2009. Hollowing Out the Middle. Boston: Beacon Press.

Carr, Patrick, and Maria Kefalas, “Reseeding Rural America,” Des Moines Register, August 6, 2005.

Edin, Kathryn and Maria Kefalas, “Unmarried with Children” Contexts. Vol. 4, Spring 2005: pp. 16-22.

Edin, Kathryn and Maria Kefalas, "Unmarried Because They Value Marriage," Washington Post, May 1, 2005.

Edin, Kathryn and Maria Kefalas, Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2005.

Kefalas, Maria, Working Class Heroes: Protecting Home, Community, and Nation in a Chicago Neighborhood, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2003.

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