Path to Degree

During the first year, students usually take five of the required classes. In the Fall semester, the Development of Sociological Theory (or Classical Theory as exemplified by Marx, Weber, and Durkheim); and Statistics I. In the Spring semester, Contemporary Sociological Theory, Statistics II, and an additional research methods course (Qualitative or Quantitative). The program offers a variety of courses that meet this requirement.

On average, students take three to four courses per semester. You can take any additional one or two elective course(s) of your interests along with the required courses.

Starting Fall 2020, the written theory exam has been replaced with a student taking a two – semester writing seminar course in their second year. The goal is for a student to have a publishable piece of work at the end of their second year.

Students move to level II after passing the first exam. They pass the first exam after they have accumulated 45 credits, have completed the two-semester writing seminar course, and the five required courses with an average grade of B or better. At level II, they prepare for and take an oral exam that tests their knowledge of three substantive areas of sociology. Students select three professors to work with (one for each of the three areas of interest) in preparing for the exam, submitting bibliographies to them and negotiating over the boundaries of the areas to be covered. Students also need to pass a foreign language requirement. Once students have passed the oral exam, have accumulated 60 credits, and have passed the language exam, they then select their dissertation committee and select a dissertation topic. The EO then appoints an additional committee member in consultation with student’s chair. They are now ready to move to Level III.

Once students are at Level III, they are officially advanced to candidacy. Students can apply for MPhil degree at this stage. They are now ready to start their research. Students are required to take human subjects (IRB) approval before they start their research. It is mandatory to have an IRBapproval whether their research deals with human subject participation or not. For more information, check the IRB website. Now comes the crucial task of writing a proposal, having that proposal approved, and then writing the dissertation. The committee must approve the student's proposal. Once the committee has done so, the proposal is then submitted to a faculty/student committee known as the Faculty Membership Committee (FMC). The members of this committee review every proposal and write comments on them, advising on the research design and the definition of the intellectual problem. The student responds to these comments and then begins the actual writing of the dissertation. Upon completion of the dissertation and successful defense of the dissertation, the student receives the Ph.D.