Sociology Doctor of Philosophy Degree Program

The program leading to the Doctor of Philosophy degree is designed to prepare qualified students for college and university teaching and for careers in sociological research. The program emphasizes sociological theory, research methodology, and the application of sociological knowledge in the identification and analysis of social problems. The program requires at least three academic years of full-time study and research or the equivalent over a longer period beyond the baccalaureate.

Requirements for Admission

The general University and departmental requirements for admission to doctoral study must be satisfied. Students are required to submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination General Test. Undergraduate deficiencies in sociology should be made up in the first year of graduate study.

Program of Study and Research

(60 credits, minimum)

The program of study for the first year includes a common sequence: Soc 509 Research Methods; Soc 510 Sociological Theories I; Soc 511 Sociological Theories II; Soc 522 Intermediate Statistics for Sociologists; and Soc 590A,B Orientation to Sociology. The student is also required to take Soc 609 Multivariate Analysis.

The department may waive any of the required courses when a student petitions for the waiver and demonstrates mastery of the subject matter area.

Additional courses are planned in consultation with the student's advisory committee. Each student's program will center around a specialization which may be individually arranged to meet the student's particular needs and objectives. Students are limited to 6 credits of independent study.

Departmental Examinations

  1. The student must pass a comprehensive examination in methods at the start of the student’s third semester. However, students who receive at least a 3.5 average for required methods courses (Soc 509 and Soc 522) are not required to take the comprehensive examination in methods. A student who fails must retake the examination at the start of the student’s fourth semester. The student who fails to take the examination by the deadline, or to pass it on the second attempt, will not be allowed to continue in the Ph.D. program. The student will remain eligible to complete the master’s degree.
  2. The student must pass two specialty examinations.  The student is required to take the first examination no later than the start of the student’s sixth semester and the second examination no later than the start of the student’s seventh semester. A student who fails a specialty area is allowed to retake it once in the semester following their first attempt. Thus reexaminations, if needed, would have to be taken at the start of the eighth or ninth semester of study. A student, who fails to take examinations by the deadlines, or to pass them by the second attempt, will not be allowed to continue in the Ph.D. program. The student will remain eligible to complete the master’s degree.
  3. The student must successfully propose and defend the dissertation in oral examinations.

Teaching Tool Requirement

The student can satisfy this requirement by completing the Coteaching Internship (Soc 606) or by a substitute teaching experience approved by the department's graduate committee.

Research Tool Requirements

The student must demonstrate competence in use of one research tool relevant to his or her specialization. The research tool requirement may be fulfilled with a reading knowledge in one appropriate foreign language or competence in one special methodological area.

Foreign language skills are tested by appropriate examinations. Research tool options not involving foreign languages are satisfied by passing appropriate courses, as advised by the department, with a grade of B or better. Examinations or courses taken to satisfy the research tool requirement will not be counted toward semester hours credit for the degree.

Full Time Study in Residence

Each student in a doctoral program must engage in full-time study beyond the master's degree or equivalent at the University in at least two sessions after admission to the advanced program. This requirement is designed to insure for each doctoral student a sustained period of intensive intellectual growth. For this purpose a student will enroll in full-time study (12 credits) taken in each of two sessions, or in a regular session and a summer session, not necessarily consecutive, which must be completed satisfactorily, except as indicated here:

  1. Students authorized to register for work on a dissertation may meet this 12 credit per session requirement by satisfactorily completing a minimum of 8 earned course credits and registering for work on the dissertation for load credits that will bring the total to 12 credits for each of two sessions.
  2. Graduate assistants holding a full assistantship may meet the residency requirement by completing one academic year in such a position, including the satisfactory completion of a minimum of 15 registered credits during the year plus satisfactory completion of assigned duties.

Admissions to Candidacy

A student is admitted to candidacy for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy upon the following:

  1. Satisfactory record in course and seminar study;
  2. Satisfactory completion of the research tool requirement;
  3. Completion of the University residence requirements;
  4. Satisfactory completion of the comprehensive examination in methods or meeting the performance criterion in required methods courses;
  5. Satisfactory completion of two specialty examinations.


A dissertation based on independent research is required. The dissertation should constitute a significant and potentially publishable professional contribution to the field of sociology.

Ancillary Duties

All students are required, in addition to completion of coursework, to perform some teaching, research, or other professional duties contributing to their academic development, whether or not they receive financial support from this university.

Communication Specialization in the Doctoral Program in Sociology

Students in the Doctor of Philosophy degree program in Sociology may elect a special field in Communication. The Department of Communication, in conjunction with the Department of Sociology, offers doctoral studies in the following fields of communication: interpersonal/intercultural; organizational/telecommunication; and political communication. Applicants for admission to Sociology with an emphasis in Communication are first evaluated by the Communication Department. They are then evaluated by the Sociology Department, with the final decision on admission resting therein.

Program of Study

The degree program in Sociology with a Communication specialization area will have the following components:

  1. 30 credits in sociology, including Soc 509; Soc 510; Soc 511; Soc 522; Soc 590A, Soc 509B; and Soc 609;
  2. 24 credits in Communication, including Com 502 and Com 503; and 18 credits in one of the three Communication concentrations: interpersonal/ intercultural; organizational/ telecommunication; and political communication;
  3. 6 additional credits as advised by the Communication faculty;
  4. Fulfillment of the teaching and research tool requirements as approved by the Sociology Graduate Committee;
  5. Successful completion of departmental examinations (see note below);
  6. Doctoral dissertation.

Comprehensive Examination

Students in the Sociology program with a specialization area in communication must take the comprehensive examination in methods (unless it is waived by virtue of a 3.5 average in Soc 509 and Soc 522). Students will also take two specialization examinations administered by the Sociology Department. One of these examinations will be in one of the three Communication concentration areas. (The three members of the examination committee for this exam can include any combination of Sociology and Communication faculty). The topic for the second examination must conform to the requirements stated earlier (See Departmental Examinations). The topics, committee compositions, and dates of the specialization examinations must be approved by the Sociology Graduate Committee.