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.

Learning Outcomes

  • Produce and defend an original significant contribution to sociological knowledge.
  • Demonstrate mastery of subject material.
  • Be able to conduct scholarly activities in a professional and ethical manner.
  • Be able to teach undergraduates.

Course Requirements

Candidates admitted to the PhD program must complete 16 courses, including 5 required and 11 elective courses (64 credits).

Basic requirements (5 courses for a total of 20 credits):

  • 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)

Strongly encouraged (2 2-credit courses run over two semesters for a total of 4 credits):

  • SO 951 and SO 952 Professionalization Workshop

Elective courses (11 courses, can include SO 951 and SO 952, for a total of 44 credits)

The SO 701 and SO 702 required courses should be completed in the first year of study. All first-year students are also strongly encouraged to register for SO 951 and SO 952. The student’s remaining coursework should be chosen in conjunction with their advisor. Please consult the Department of Sociology Graduate Student Handbook for further details.

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. For each of two subfields of Sociology, students must complete either a: (1) critical essay, (2) critical exam, or (3) research paper suitable for submission to a scholarly journal. Each product shall demonstrate intellectual mastery of theories, concepts, methods, and research in the discipline. Students should select a format for each subfield in consultation with their advisor. Upon completion and approval of each paper, exam, or critical essay, the work is defended in a Comprehensive Oral Examination.

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 students’ 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.