Graduate Study



The Department encourages superior students, regardless of their undergraduate area of specialization, to apply for admission. Application for the M.A. or Ph.D. programs for September admissions should be completed and on file February 1st. For both M.A. and Ph.D. work, applicants must submit official transcripts of all previous academic work, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. The Department strongly recommends that applicants include a writing sample and general GRE scores with their applications. Approximately six Teaching Assistantships are available for new doctoral students each year. Normally, the six students who are funded will be funded for four additional years. Teaching Assistants are obligated to work for 12-15 hours per week and are awarded full tuition remission and a stipend.

Students who wish to do non-degree course work ("special students") may file applications until August 15th for Fall admissions, and until December 15th for Spring admissions.

Application for admission is made directly to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, following the instructions in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Bulletin. International applicants International applicants seeking admission should write to the Boston College Graduate School of Arsts and Sciences Admissions Office, Chestnut Hill, MA 02167, U.S.A., requesting the international student applications forms. International applicants may apply as full-time students only.


The M.B.A./Ph.D. PROGRAM is a joint venture of the Boston College Graduate School of Management and the Department of Sociology. This joint degree program is based on an interdisciplinary curriculum that provides social researchers with a systematic understanding of the business and workplace environment, and trains managers in social research techniques appropriate to their needs. The joint program is an outgrowth of the Social Economy focus of the Department and reduces substantially the total coursework required for the two degrees taken separately (a total reduction of five courses). (An M.B.A./M.A. program is also offered; see Professor Paul Gray for details.)


The Master's degree is completed by passing ten courses and fulfilling a Master's Comprehensive requirement. The specific features of these two dimensions of the program follow:

A. Thirty Hours in Approved Courses

Among the ten courses needed for completion of the M.A. degree, five are required. The core required courses are:
  1. a two-semester course; Theory Proseminar (SC715)
  2. a one-semester course; Advanced Research Methods; (SC710)
  3. a two-semester sequence in statistics (SC702, SC703)

All students are required to take both terms of SC715, Theory Proseminar, during the first year of study and are required to take all five departmental core courses by the end of their third semester of residence.

  • The following description of the requirements for both the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees is drawn from the Department's Guide to Graduate Studies. This document, which is available upon request and routinely distributed to new graduate students, contains a more detailed version of departmental rules and regulations.

    B. Comprehensive Requirement

  • Two options exist for fulfilling the Master's Comprehensive requirement, a Master's thesis or a Master's paper. The M.A. thesis should be considered as a work on a well-defined empirical problem and involve the analysis of collected data. The general structure and format of the thesis should be determined by the student in conjunction with his/her major advisor. With the permission of the advisor, several alternative formats for the thesis are possible. As one option for example, students might be encouraged to report their research in a style and form appropriate for submission to a professional journal. Students would be allowed (but not required) to take as many as six credits of the required thirty as thesis work. The thesis must be approved by the student's advisor and by one other member of the faculty selected by the advisor.

  • The Master's paper must be written under the supervision of a faculty advisor. Students may, with the advisor's consent, choose among the following three alternatives in writing the Master's paper:

    1. A critical review of the literature in a specific area of interest to the student (e.g., social stratification, deviance, women's studies). Together, student and faculty member will work out a comprehensive bibliography in the special area which the student will be responsible for reading and critically reviewing.

    2. A critical review of the literature in general sociology. Again, student and faculty member will produce a comprehensive bibliography in general sociology which the student will be responsible for reading and critically reviewing.

    3. An issue or problem paper. Students may identify what they take to be a major, fundamental, conceptual issue or debate in sociology and examine that issue or debate critically. Students are expected to marshal and to synthesize the appropriate literature relevant to the problem, bringing their own viewpoint to bear on the issue chosen.

  • Students who choose to fulfill the requirements for the Master's degree by writing a Master's paper would ordinarily be expected to do so as their tenth course in the Master's Program (SC799: Reading and Research with the faculty readers). The Master's paper must be approved by the student's advisor and one other member of the faculty selected by the advisor, in consultation with the student.

    Degree Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy

      The Doctoral degree is completed by:

    • taking eight courses beyond the equivalent of a Master's degree.
    • teaching one course per semester for one academic year
      (or conducting an equivalent number of course discussion groups, or
      assisting a professor in an ongoing research project for one academic year).
    • meeting a one year full-time residency requirement. (Full-time
      residency is a three course load for two consecutive semesters, exclusive of the Summer session.)
    • getting a dissertation proposal approved.
    • passing a general comprehensive examination.
    • completing a doctoral dissertation and passing an oral defense

      Among the courses needed for completion of the Ph.D. degree, six are required. The required courses are:

    • a two semester sequence in Social Theory, SC715, "Classical Social Theory" and SC716, "Contemporary Social Theory";
    • a one-semester course, "Advanced Research Methods" (SC710);
    • a two-semester sequence in Statistics (SC702 and SC703);
    • an additional graduate research methods class (for example, in field research, advanced quantitative techniques, historiographic research).
    The Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination has three components: a Theory/Methods Examination and two examinations in specialty areas of the student's choice. The Theory/Methods Examination determines basic competence in making a sociological argument and a basic familiarity with that literature which any sociologist is expected to know. The Area Examinations test advanced knowledge in the student's chosen specialties.
    The Ph.D. requirements involve students' achieving certain "progress benchmarks" in each of their years of study within the Department. These benchmarks can be summarized as follows:

  • Establish relationship with faculty advisor early in the Fall semester.
  • Complete both semester of SC715.
  • Complete SC702 and 703.


  • Form and Advisory Committee by the end of the Fall semester.
  • Have all five core courses completed by the year's end.
  • Complete or plan to complete residency requirement.

  • Complete Theory/Methods Comprehensive Examination in the Fall.<
  • Constitute Doctoral Dissertation Committee.
  • Complete one Area Exam by the end of the academic year.
  • Complete 18 courses by academic year's end.
  • Complete dissertation proposal by the end of the Spring semester.

  • Complete a second Area Exam by the end of the Fall semester.
  • Begin data collection for dissertation during the Spring semester.

  • Complete doctoral dissertation.
  • Complete oral defense of the dissertation


    Many of our students arrive in the Department with a wealth of professional and life experience, and some have very specific projects which they have conceived prior to entering the program, and which they use their training in sociology to complete. Two measures of the quality of graduate student work are the number of their co-authored books with faculty members while they were completing their training and the number of their doctoral dissertations that have thus far been published. At last count, faculty and graduate students have collaborated on a minimum of thirteen books and a dozen articles. Of the 99 doctoral dissertations completed through May, 1997, at least ten now appear as books.

    Students have entered quite diverse occupations upon graduation. Among the non-academic positions held are those in labor management relations, management positions related to work design, banking, city and state government, public health, police work, social law, and consulting. Students embarking on academic careers have obtained positions at a wide range of institutions, including Harvard, Brandeis, Tulane, Bridgewater State College, Regis, Stonehill, Vassar, Hawaii, University of California at Santa Barbara, Marquette, West Virginia, Suffolk University, Washington and Lee, Drake, Middlebury and Virginia Commonwealth.

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