Graduate Program - Ph.D in Sociology
For students who begin study in 2011-2012 and subsequent academic years, the Department will offer a single program of study leading to the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree. Students will not be required to earn a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree before working toward the Ph.D. However, students who wish to obtain an M.A. degree may do so, at their option, once they have completed requirements for the first two years of study and the Qualifying Research Paper, as long as they have met the requirements for the M.A. degree established by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS). International students are advised to consult with the International Studies Office concerning the visa implications of completing the M.A. degree.
Specific Required Courses
In addition, students must take 3 elective Core Courses.
Required Number of Courses and Credit Hours
Students must take 20 courses (including 15 graded substantive or methods courses and 5 semesters of the Seminar on Sociological Issues) to be completed by the fifth semester (the fall semester of the third year). Students must register for 4 courses (including the Seminar on Sociological Issues) and at least 12 credit hours per semester. Thus, they will complete a total of 60 or more credit hours of coursework over 5 semesters.
During the second year, students must complete a Qualifying Research Paper with the aim of producing a publishable journal article. Students will ordinarily complete the qualifying research paper within the framework of the second-year research and writing seminar (SOC 7980 & SOC 7981). The purpose of the seminar is to assist students to meet the qualifying research paper requirement by preparing a publishable journal article. The emphasis in the seminar is on developing students’ individual research projects, rather than on teaching new substantive or methodological content. The course provides a structure for the research experience that enables students to maximize learning and skill development from that experience. Specifically, the course aims to do three things:
Second-year students will also have an advisor with expertise in their substantive area of interest and are expected to consult this advisor concerning the qualifying paper project. However, the role of the advisor is more limited than that of an advisor on a traditional master’s thesis. Responsibility for ensuring that the student is making progress rests with the course instructor. Evaluation of the final paper is carried out by the instructor and the substantive advisor jointly and results in a letter grade in the research and writing seminar.
Students are normally expected to present their findings at a colloquium in mid- to late April. If the student wishes to obtain a Master of Arts degree in May of the same semester, the research paper must be completed by the deadline set by the University for May degrees. The quality and sophistication of the paper should be at the level of a publishable journal article.
Information on Graduate School of Arts & Sciences degree requirements, if a student chooses to apply for the MA degree:
Students are required to take two comprehensive examinations in subfields of sociology. Ordinarily, students are expected to complete both comprehensive examinations during the spring semester of the third year. Students may not defend a dissertation proposal until both comprehensive examinations have been passed.
Under the supervision of a dissertation advisor and committee, students must prepare a written dissertation proposal and conduct a successful oral defense of that proposal.
At the outset of the dissertation phase of a student’s program, the student should identify a committee chair/advisor and two additional committee members from among the Department’s faculty. Although it is not required, the student may wish to identify an external reader at the proposal stage, as some external readers appreciate the opportunity for early involvement. Formation of the dissertation committee requires the Director of Graduate Studies’ approval - see Committee Approval Form.
Although the length and form of the dissertation proposal will vary according to the preferences of the student and his or her dissertation advisor and committee, an acceptable dissertation proposal should contain the following elements: (a) a thorough and thoughtful review of the research literature on the relevant topic; (b) a clear statement of one or more research questions and an explanation of why and how the dissertation will make a contribution to the literature by answering those questions; and (c) a clear and detailed plan for carrying out empirical research to address the research questions, including a description of data sources and analytical methods. In addition, if the project aims to test hypotheses, the proposal should include a section developing a theoretical framework and deriving the relevant hypotheses.
Because research projects inevitably evolve during the process of empirical data collection and analysis, the proposal is not intended to be a binding “contract” that must be carried out exactly as specified. At the same time, the proposal should not be vague and inchoate. The proposal should be sufficiently developed and detailed to convince readers of the project’s value, while still allowing flexibility for the shifts in direction and emphasis that are likely to emerge as the research proceeds.
When the committee determines that the proposal is ready, a date will be scheduled for the oral defense of the dissertation proposal. At least one week in advance, the student should provide a paper copy of the proposal to the Graduate Administrative Assistant for public announcement and circulation. On the day of the proposal defense, the student and committee members should complete the dissertation proposal defense form, and file it with the Administrative Assistant.
Students are required to write a doctoral dissertation, which should be a substantial contribution to the existing body of knowledge in the discipline. The work should be of publishable quality, either as a book or as several journal articles. In addition, students must conduct a successful oral defense of that dissertation.
Ordinarily, a student will retain the same dissertation advisor and committee as she or he moves from the proposal stage to the research and writing of the dissertation itself. However, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences requires that a faculty member from another Arts and Sciences department (or, but only with the approval of the Dean of the Graduate School, a faculty member from another school of the University) participate in examining the student at the dissertation defense. Therefore, if the student has not already done so at the proposal stage, it is advisable for the student to select this external reader shortly after the proposal defense and to seek his or her input as appropriate during the development of the dissertation project.
When the committee determines that the dissertation is ready, a date will be scheduled for the oral defense of the dissertation. At least one week in advance, the student should provide a paper copy of the dissertation to the Graduate Administrative Assistant for public announcement and circulation. On the day of the defense, the student and committee members should complete the dissertation defense (“Final Examination”) form, and sign the title page of the dissertation. These forms should then be filed with the Graduate Administrative Assistant, who will obtain the signature of the Department Chair. The student should then submit these forms to the GSAS Registrar by the appropriate deadline.
Graduate School of Arts & Sciences degree requirements, forms and information: