Curriculum Requirements

To receive their Ph.D., students must complete the required core course curriculum and electives, the First Exam, the Second Exam (Orals), proficiency in a foreign language, dissertation research, a dissertation proposal, and the dissertation.

Course Requirements

The Ph.D. Program in Sociology requires 60 credits of approved graduate work.

The following core courses are required of entering students, and must be completed before the student accumulates 45 credits. Please plan to take these courses during your first two years in the program.


  • Soc. 70100 Development of Sociological Theory
  • Soc. 70200 Contemporary Sociological Theory


  • Soc. 71500 Sociological Statistics I
  • Soc. 71600 Sociological Statistics II
  • Soc. 71000 or one other methodology course numbered Soc. 81000 through Soc. 81900
  • Students entering the program with prior advanced training in statistical methods may, with the permission of the program, substitute other more advanced quantitative methods courses instead of Stats I and/or Stats II

In addition to these five required core courses, students are required to take a two-semester qualifying paper seminar in their second year.  This yearlong seminar is an opportunity to conduct original research that will result in a journal article (i.e. The Qualifying Paper) that is of publishable quality in a peer-reviewed academic journal.

Under certain circumstances a required course or courses may be waived if you have already taken the course elsewhere. If you think you qualify for this, contact the Executive Officer.

Students fulfill the remainder of the course curriculum via electives. Elective courses afford the student an opportunity to sample the variety of modern sociology. They also give you a chance to work with individual faculty members, to get to know their research, and to develop possible mentoring relationships that may be helpful later when working on the dissertation.

Students are encouraged to specialize in one or more subfields of sociology--for example, medical sociology or political economy – and are recommended to use their electives to explore these subfields.

Learn more about electives in the student handbook »

Language Requirement

Before being advanced to candidacy, students are required to demonstrate their ability to read scholarly work in a major foreign language. This requirement can be met in one of two ways:

  • A written examination offered by the Sociology program in French, German, or Spanish.
  • An intensive language course offered in the GC Language Reading Program.

Learn more about language requirements in the Student Handbook »

Examination Requirements

First Examination

A student pass the first exam after they have accumulated 45 credits, have completed five required courses with an average grade of B or better​ and have passed the two-semester writing seminar course.

Second Examination (Orals)

The second exam in sociology (known as the orals) requires doctoral students to develop a broad grounding in several fields within sociology. The exam evaluates students for teaching-level competency in at least three separate areas of sociology, and for understanding of the relationships between a chosen field of interest and other areas of the discipline.

The Second exam is scheduled by the student and their orals committee.

Learn more about examinations in the Student Handbook »

Dissertation Requirement

The single most important project one accomplishes in graduate school is the dissertation, for it is this original study that defines one as a scholar in the early years of a career. Thus the other requirements of the program are geared to preparing the student for dissertation research and writing.

Students should plan to develop a dissertation proposal after passing the Second Exam, and must complete both a written dissertation and an oral defense.

Learn more about the Dissertation in the Student Handbook »