The present invention relates to a method for making high surface area and large pore volume thermally stable silica-doped alumina (aluminum oxide) catalyst support and ceramic materials. The ability of the silica-alumina to withstand high temperatures in presence or absence of water and prevent sintering allows it to maintain good activity over a long period of time in catalytic reactions. The method of preparing such materials includes adding organic silicon reagents to an organic aluminum salt such as an alkoxide in a controlled quantity as a doping agent in a solid state, solvent deficient reaction followed by calcination. Alternatively, the organic silicon compound may be added after calcination of the alumina, followed by another calcination step. This method is inexpensive and simple. The alumina catalyst support material prepared by the subject method maintains high pore volumes, pore diameters and surface areas at very high temperatures and in the presence of steam.