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Core Requirements

The following program requirements apply to students who entered the Ph.D program in 2010-11 or later; students admitted prior to 2010 should consult the department or the Bulletin from their year of admission for requirements specific to their cohort. Please review the department's Doctoral Program Handbook for more details on each requirement.

Students must complete the following department requirements for the Ph.D. degree in Sociology:

  • Proseminar: Students must enroll in SOC 305 Graduate Proseminar in Autumn Quarter of the first year. The course provides an introduction and orientation to the field of sociology, and to the department and faculty.
  • Colloquium: The Sociology Colloquium is a semi-monthly seminar held throughout the academic year, in which distinguished scholars lecture about their cutting-edge research. This course, SOC 396, is required for all first and second years.
  • Minimum sociology units in years 1 and 2: Students are required to complete 45 units of course work in Sociology in the first academic year, then 15 units of Sociology course work in the second academic year.
  • Theory: Students are required to take at least two courses in sociological theory. One course should be in either macro-sociological theory (SOC 370A Sociological Theory: Social Structure, Inequality, and Conflict), or micro-sociological theory (SOC 370B Social Interaction and Group Process), in the first year of the program. A second course, in research design, should be taken during the first year of the program as well: SOC 372 Theoretical Analysis and Design). Students without a background in Sociology are encouraged to enroll in SOC 370A Sociological Theory: Social Structure, Inequality, and Conflict as well as SOC 370B, Social Interaction and Group Process.
  • Methodology: Students are required to complete a series of courses in methodology as well as one methods elective. Students with little background in statistics are encouraged to take an undergraduate statistics course in their first quarter of the program. The required methods sequence, to be taken in order, are: SOC 381 Sociological Methodology I: Introduction, SOC 382 Sociological Methodology II: Multivariate Regression, SOC 383 Sociological Methodology III.
  • Survey Courses: Students must complete four broad survey courses to demonstrate command of a range of sociological literature.
  • Workshops: Beginning in year two, doctoral students are required to enroll in at least one workshop each quarter. 
  • Qualifying Exam #1: The first comprehensive examination is designed to ensure that students enter their second year with a firm reading knowledge of two substantive subfields. Students write two essays in response to questions provided by the examining committee. Students choose one of two questions to write on for each subfield. Examinations are offered in a variety of subject areas, and are based on comprehensive readings lists that are available at the beginning of each academic year.
  • Qualifying Exam #2: In their second year of residence, students must pass qualifying exam #2, which is a research paper that is intended to provide students with a more focused engagement in a specialized subfield or research area, and tests the student’s ability to work and think independently. Second year students are required to enroll in SOC 385A Research Practicum 1 and SOC 385B Research Practicum II  (both workshops assist in developing the front end of the research paper). Students must submit a one-page proposal to the reading committee that includes a brief statement of the problem; a preliminary research design; a data source and proof of reasonable access to it; and a short reading list. Students should produce a paper that makes an original contribution to sociological knowledge and that is ultimately publishable. That generally means writing a paper that includes data analysis; a full and focused analytic discussion of relevant theory and research; and frame the findings as a contribution to the literature. Students may also produce a paper with a primarily theoretical contribution so long as the prospects for eventual publication are clear to the committee. This paper may not also be employed to meet the Third Year Paper requirement, even in revised form.
  • Third Year 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. Students select a committee of at least two Sociology faculty members to serve as third year paper readers.  Third year students are required to enroll in SOC 385A Research Practicum 1 and SOC 385B Research Practicum II  (both workshops assist in developing the front end of the research paper).
  • Presenting Papers: Students are required to present at least two papers at a major professional meeting (e.g., ASA) in their first five years of graduate study.
  • Dissertation Prospectus and Prospectus Defense: In order to demonstrate the ability to conduct independent scholarly work, each student must prepare and defend dissertation prospectus by the end of May during the fourth year in residence.
  • Doctoral Dissertation and Defense: Each student must complete and defend a doctoral dissertation. At the choice of the student (and in consultation with his/her adviser), the dissertation requirement may be met either by (1) submitting a book-length document, or (2) submitting three independent papers. The papers may address the same topic, but should be written as stand-alone, single-authored papers in standard journal format (i.e., AJS or ASR). None of these papers may overlap substantially with one another, and none of them may be co-authored. (The main criterion in judging substantial overlap is whether any standard journal, such as AJS, would regard the papers as too similar to publish both.) The dissertation must be submitted to all committee members at least 30 days in advance of the defense date. The dissertation defense serves as the Oral Examination required by the University. Assessment of satisfactory completion is determined by the student's doctoral committee members. All students are invited to present their dissertation findings at an informal department colloquium.

Teaching Assistant Requirements

Students must complete three quarters of teaching apprenticeship in departmental courses, or in other courses by approval. Students working as either a teaching assistant (TA) under the supervision of a faculty member or as a teaching fellow (TF) fulfills this requirement. Students are required to take SOC 300, Workshop: Teaching Development, in Spring Quarter of the first year. In addition, students are encouraged to take advantage of department and University teacher training programs. Students for whom English is a second language are expected to acquire sufficient facility in English to be an effective teacher.  It is recommended that students complete their research requirements early in their graduate program; the requirement must be completed by the end of the fourth year of residency.

Research Assistant Requirements

As partial preparation for becoming an accomplished researcher, each student must complete three quarters of research experience, working under the supervision of one or more faculty members, including regular, emeritus, and affiliated faculty. The experience may involve paid (or unpaid) work as a Research Assistant (RA). With the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies, research experience may be acquired by involvement in research projects outside the department. It is recommended that students complete their research requirements early in their graduate program; the requirement must be completed by the end of the fourth year of residency.

At any point during the degree program, evidence that a student is performing at a less than satisfactory level may be cause for a formal academic review of that student.