PhD Timeline

How long will it take to get a PhD in Sociology at Harvard?

It all depends on the student. Some students complete the program in five years, some in as many as seven or eight years.

Sample Timeline

Below is a sample timeline for a student striving to complete their degree in five to six years.

First Year

  • Coursework (see Course Progression)
  • General written exam in August, prior to beginning year 2
  • Apply for pre-doctoral fellowships

Second Year

Third Year

  • Finish all coursework (including Qualifying Paper Seminar and Teaching Practicum)
  • Teaching Fellowships and Research Assistantships
  • Complete Qualifying Paper
  • Begin (and possibly defend) dissertation proposal (prospectus)
  • Apply for dissertation fellowships

Fourth Year

  • Defend dissertation prospectus no later than May 1st
  • Advancement to candidacy
  • Begin writing dissertation
  • Apply for dissertation fellowships

Fifth Year

  • Apply for dissertation fellowships and external aid for Year 6
  • Write dissertation--possibly defend dissertation, submit manuscript, and graduate

Sixth Year

  • See “Fifth Year” above

Students participating in a joint degree program (other than the Sociology & Social Policy,  Organizational Behavior, or AAAS joint degree programs) can expect to take an additional one or two years to complete the program, depending upon the requirements of the other degree program.

If you have any questions that cannot be answered on our website, contact the Sociology Graduate Program Coordinator.