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Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences

Ph.D. Program

Sociology Department

Degree Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy

The Doctoral degree is completed by:

  • Obtaining a Master's degree in the department, including the completion of 30 credits, comprised of ten courses or a mix of courses and independent research credits, a Master's thesis or paper, and passing an oral defense.
  • Taking an additional 24 credits beyond the equivalent of the Master's degree in Sociology, including a second graduate-level Research Methods course. These credits are fulfilled by a combination of classes and independent research credits. Most students will complete two years of classroom courses (12 classes, or 36 credits) and one year of credited independent research (18 credits) before beginning the dissertation.
  • 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.)
  • Passing a Comprehensive Examination, consisting of two area examinations and an approved doctoral dissertation proposal.
  • Completing a doctoral dissertation and passing an oral defense.

Among the 54 credits (classes plus independent research) needed for completion of the Ph.D. degree, there are eight required courses:

  • A two-semester, 6-credit sequence in sociological theory (SOCY7715, SOCY7716). These should be completed by the end of the fourth semester.
  • A three-course, 9-credit sequence in research methods: Social Inquiry Research Seminar (SOCY7710) is taken during the first semester of study, Empirical Research Seminar (SOCY7711) is taken during the second semester of study, and Graduate Writing Seminar (SOCY7761), a year-long biweekly three credit course, is taken in the second year of study. (Students officially register for SOCY7761 in the Spring of their second year; in the Fall of their second year, students working on their Theses/Papers are expected to register for a Research and Readings (R&R) course with their thesis advisors while simultaneously attending SOCY7761.)
  • Two 3-credit graduate-level courses in statistics (some options include SOCY7702, SOCY7703, SOCY7704, SOCY7705, SOCY7706, SOCY7708, SOCY7709). These should be completed by the end of the fourth semester.
  • An additional graduate research methods class (for example, in field research, feminist methodology, advanced quantitative techniques, workshop in historical sociology).

The Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam has three components: two examinations in specialty areas of the student's choice, and an oral defense of the dissertation proposal. These area examinations test advanced knowledge in the student's chosen specialties. One or both of the area examinations may assume the form of a paper of publishable quality to be submitted to a sociology journal.

For more details on the requirements for the Ph.D. in sociology, see the Guide to Graduate Study*. For information on the careers of some of our Ph.D. recipients, see our Ph.D. Alumni Biography page.


*Please note: These files are Adobe Acrobat® (PDF) formatted files. To view them you will need the free Adobe Acrobat file reader.