Program Requirements

Below is an overview of degree requirements for a PhD in Sociology. The full requirements can be found in the CHD Handbook 2020-2021.

Students who entered the graduate program prior to Fall 2013 may refer to a previous version of the handbook, chd_handbook_2012_2013.pdf.

Course Work

Students are required to complete 16 graduate courses. Course work includes workshops, independent study, directed reading courses, and up to two units of independent research.

Required Courses


Students must take two sociological theory courses. All students are required to take Soc 2204 in year 1, and Soc 2208 in year 2.


Each student must complete a series of required courses in methodology (SOC 2202, 2203, and 2209). Students with little background in statistics are encouraged to take an introductory statistics course, such as Statistics 100. 

Sociological Research Design

Students must enroll in SOC 2205, Sociological Research Design, in the fall semester of the first year. This course covers the fundamentals of sociological research design. Emphasis is placed on surveys, participant observation, comparative historical study, interviews, and quantitative analysis of existing data.

Teaching Practicum
Students are required to take SOC 3305, Teaching Practicum, concurrently with their first term of teaching, which is generally in the fall semester of the third year.

Qualifying Paper Seminar
All third-year students are required to take the Qualifying Paper Seminar, which guides students through the process of producing an original research paper of high quality.


Students must complete 6 elective courses, which may be chosen from those 1000-level courses designated as Conference Courses in Courses of Instruction; 2000-level courses; 3000-level individual reading courses; or workshops (students are required to take two workshops). Students can receive no more than two elective credits for workshops. Courses from other departments that are cross-listed under Sociology in Courses of Instruction will count toward meeting the elective requirement. This requirement is normally completed by the end of the second year of residency and must be met by the end of the third year of residency.


Doctoral students are required to enroll in two workshops during their graduate careers. Sociology workshops are offered on a credit/non-credit basis only and attendance is required to receive course credit. See detailed information regarding PhD Workshops.

General Exam

There is one General Written Examination that is taken in August, prior to the start of the fall semester of the second year of residence. The examination is based on standard faculty-generated reading lists for seven fields within sociology (Social Organization, Social Stratification, Culture, Development, Gender, Family, Immigration, Political Sociology, and Race and Ethnicity). Students write one essay on each of four subject areas, including one essay on Social Organization and one essay on Social Stratification.

Each examination question is graded by two faculty members. The grade on this qualifying exam is an important component of the decision to advance a student to candidacy.

Teaching Fellowship (TF)

Students must complete one semester of teaching fellowship in departmental courses, or in other courses by approval. Work as a teaching fellow (TF) under the supervision of a faculty member fulfills this requirement. Teaching generally begins in the fall semester of the third year. In addition to SOC 3305, Teaching Practicum, which must be taken concurrently with the first term of teaching, students are encouraged to take advantage of departmental and University-wide teacher training programs. Students for whom English is a second language are expected to acquire sufficient facility in English to be an effective teacher.

Qualifying Paper

In preparation for a career of writing scholarly papers, each student must complete a research paper in the third year of residency. This third-year paper may be on any sociological topic, and may address theoretical, empirical, or methodological issues. The paper is expected to reflect original work and be of publishable quality. A three-person committee that includes the primary advisor evaluates the paper. Although the reading committee is usually comprised of two regular faculty members in the department, emeritus and other faculty outside of the department may serve as committee members with prior approval. A two-page overview of the research project and the name of the Qualifying Paper faculty advisor must be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies in Sociology by February 15th of a student’s second year in the graduate program. To ensure that students are making adequate progress on their paper, students in their third year of graduate study are required to provide a first draft of the paper to their Qualifyiing Committee Chair by September 15th. The final deadline for paper submission is March 31st.

Annual Faculty Review of Graduate Students

All graduate students after the 1st year are required to submit an annual report on October 1st of each year. The annual report includes an updated CV that notes teaching (TF or other), publishing (in press, published, or under review), papers/works in progress, participation in academic conferences, fellowship and grant awards and applications, service and other academic accomplishments of the past year. Students who have not yet defended their prospectus are required to include a planned timing of the dissertation defense. Student progress is discussed with the entire faculty at a fall faculty meeting. The progress of all first-year students is discussed separately at a faculty meeting in the spring term.

Doctoral Dissertation

Each student must complete and defend a doctoral dissertation. The dissertation must be submitted to all committee members at least two months in advance of the scheduled defense date (students who plan to obtain May degrees must submit their dissertations to their committee members by February 15th). Assessment of satisfactory completion is determined by the student’s doctoral committee members.