PhD in Sociology

The Sociology PhD program trains future scholars in the fundamental skills of the discipline of sociology. Students will acquire advanced knowledge of sociological theory and research in their chosen areas of specialization within the discipline in order to make a significant and original contribution to the field. Graduates of the program are prepared to take up teaching and research positions in academia or beyond. Applicants should have at least a bachelor’s degree in any discipline; a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in sociology is preferable but not required.

Course Requirements

Candidates admitted to the PhD program must complete 16 courses (64 credits). Deficiencies are made up without credit. Course requirements are as follows:

  • GRS SO 701 Advanced Sociological Theory (Classical)
  • GRS SO 702 Proseminar: Sociological Methods
  • GRS SO 708 Contemporary Sociological Theory
  • GRS SO 712 Qualitative Methods (or an approved course in qualitative methods in the social sciences)
  • GRS SO 724 Quantitative Methods in Sociological Analysis* (or an equivalent Graduate Programs Committee–approved advanced quantitative methods course)

All course requirements should be fulfilled in the first year of study. The student’s remaining coursework should be chosen from a list of elective courses in conjunction with his or her advisor. Please consult the Department of Sociology Graduate Student Handbook for further details.

Prior to academic year 2018/2019, GRS PO 841 or equivalent was the required quantitative methods course.

Language Requirement

There is no foreign language requirement for this degree.

Qualifying Requirements

After all courses are complete but before students write their Dissertation Prospectus, they must first meet two qualifying requirements: a Critical Essay which demonstrates intellectual mastery of the ideas and existing research in one subfield within the discipline; and a Research Paper which demonstrates the ability to conduct an original research project in a second subfield and write up the results in a paper suitable for submission to a scholarly journal. Subfields and an Examining Committee will be identified in consultation with the student’s advisor and with the approval of the Graduate Programs Committee. After the Examining Committee has approved the essay, a date is set for the comprehensive oral exam. The oral examination will primarily cover the fields in the critical essay and research paper, but it may also cover other substantive, methodological, or theoretical material from the student’s coursework.

Dissertation and Final Oral Examination

Candidates shall demonstrate their abilities for independent study in a dissertation representing original research or creative scholarship. A prospectus for the dissertation must be completed and approved by the readers, the director of graduate studies, and the department chair/program director. Candidates must undergo a final oral examination in which they defend their dissertation as a valuable contribution to knowledge in their field and demonstrate a mastery of their field of specialization in relation to their dissertation. All portions of the dissertation and final oral examination must be completed as outlined in the GRS General Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree and the Graduate Student Handbook.

Students who choose to withdraw from the PhD program and graduate with a terminal MA in Sociology must complete all of the requirements of the MA program, including the minimum 8 graduate-level courses (32 credits) and the master’s thesis on a project of original research. Students should consult the Graduate Student Handbook for additional details about required courses for the MA program.