The Sociology department offers five graduate programs, including the Ph.D. and Master's degrees, two dual degrees, and graduate coursework for non-degree seeking students, classified as Special. The programs, brief descriptions, and instructions on how to apply are listed below. Note that international students have additional requirements. Applications for M.A. and Ph.D. study are reviewed only once a year.
For more information on program requirements, see the Graduate Handbook.
For information on admissions not covered below, please contact our Director of Graduate Admissions, Natasha Sarkisian, at email@example.com.
The Ph.D. program prepares students for a variety of careers as university and college faculty and as researchers and decision makers in business, the public sector, and non-profit organizations. The primary criteria for admission are academic performance and promise of outstanding independent work.
Submit, in addition to the Graduate School of the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences requirements, a statement of purpose, a writing sample, and any other information that might enhance your candidacy. GREs are required. Apply online. The deadline for application is January 2.
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 (SOCY 7715, SOCY 7716). These should be completed by the end of the fourth semester.
- A three-course, 9-credit sequence in research methods: Social Inquiry Research Seminar (SOCY 7710) is taken during the first semester of study, Empirical Research Seminar (SOCY 7711) is taken during the second semester of study, and Graduate Writing Seminar (SOCY 7761), a year-long biweekly three credit course, is taken in the second year of study. (Students officially register for SOCY 7761 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 SOCY 7761.)
- Two 3-credit graduate-level courses in statistics (some options include SOCY 7702, SOCY 7703, SOCY 7704, SOCY 7705, SOCY 7706, SOCY 7708, SOCY 7709). 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.
The Master's degree is particularly suitable for students planning to subsequently apply to Ph.D. programs in order to prepare for scholarly careers in teaching at colleges and research universities, although it can also be useful for students interested in practicing sociology in an applied setting (e.g., academic administration or policy research).
Submit, in addition to the Graduate School at the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences requirements, a statement of purpose, a writing sample, and any other information that might enhance your candidacy. GREs are required. Apply online. The deadline for application is February 2.
Degree Requirements: Master of Arts in Sociology and Social Research
The Master's degree is completed by passing ten courses (30 credit hours), including five required courses, and having Plans of Study approved by the Director of Graduate Studies for every semester spent in the program (Plans of Study are only required for those enrolled in the terminal M.A. program). Students also have an option to complete a Master's Examination, including a Master’s Thesis or Paper, but it is not required for degree completion.
The core required courses for the M.A. degree are:
- One course in sociological theory (either SOCY 7715 or SOCY 7716).
- Two graduate-level courses in statistics (some options include SOCY 7702, SOCY 7703, SOCY 7704, SOCY 7705, SOCY 7706, SOCY 7708, SOCY 7709).
- A one-semester course, Social Inquiry Research Seminar (SOCY 7710): Students should take the Social Inquiry Research Seminar (SOCY 7710) the first semester of their first year; note that this seminar also requires students to attend the first-year proseminar which meets weekly in conjunction with the departmental seminar.
- One additional methods course:
- Those who do not plan to write a Master’s paper/thesis will select this additional methods course in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies. This course can be on either qualitative or quantitative methods; with permission of the Director of Graduate Studies, the student may use SOCY 5540 Internship in Sociology or an applied course aimed at building career skills (such as a course in writing grant proposals) to fulfill this requirement.
- Those planning to write a Master’s paper/thesis (which should include all students obtaining their M.A. as part of their Ph.D. training) should meet this requirement by attending the Empirical Research Seminar (SOCY 7711) in the Spring semester of their first year; this seminar will help students develop and refine their M.A. paper/thesis projects. Note that this seminar also requires students to attend the first-year proseminar which meets weekly in conjunction with the departmental seminar.
- Students who choose to write a Master’s Thesis or Paper and take a Master’s examination are required to take SOCY 7761: Second Year Graduate Writing Seminar (students officially register for this biweekly year-long three credit course 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).
For more details on the requirements for the M.A. in sociology, see the department's Guide to Graduate Study.
Combination Bachelor's and Master's in Sociology in five years. The application process should begin in the first semester of the junior year. Admission is very selective; normally, a student must have an overall GPA of at least 3.5 after five semesters, with at least a 3.5 GPA in sociology courses.
How to Apply
Submit, in addition to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences requirements, a statement of purpose, a writing sample, and any other information that might enhance your candidacy. GREs are recommended but not required. Apply online. The deadline for application is February 2. For more information, consult Natasha Sarkisian, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students who wish to do non-degree coursework may apply as special students. Special students may enroll for no more than 6 hours of course work in any given semester, and should contact the professor in the course in which they wish to enroll prior to the first day of class, in order to confirm permission. (International students are not eligible to be admitted as special students.)
- Placement: Ph.D. students will be able to obtain a post-doctoral fellowship, assistant professorship, or Ph.D.-level position in the applied social sciences outside of academia. M.A. students will be able to gain admittance to a Ph.D. program or obtain a M.A.-level position in the applied social sciences outside of academia.
- Ethics: Students will be able to understand the ethical dimensions of the field and follow ethical practices within all areas of their work.
- Breadth and depth of knowledge: Students will be able to identify the major methodological approaches and theoretical debates within the field.
- Service: Students will be able to contribute to the administrative functioning of their work unit (e.g., academic department) and/or to the administrative functioning of professional organizations (e.g., American Sociological Association).
- Teaching: Ph.D. students will be able to independently design and teach a course.
- Research: Students will be able to identify significant research problems and follow through with justification for appropriate data collection, analysis, and interpretation.
- Research: Students will be able to produce original research and publish it in journals in Sociology, its subfields, and/or allied fields.
- Research: Students will be able to efficiently and effectively present their research to other scholars in the field as well as lay audiences.