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Sociology

Program | Faculty | Courses

The graduate program in sociology is primarily a doctoral program. All students entering the program with a bachelor’s degree complete the requirements for the M.A. degree en route to the Ph.D. degree. Persons entering with an M.A. degree may be required to take additional courses and/or other training if their M.A. training and course work do not correspond to the requirements for the M.A. degree in this department.

Graduate work in the department prepares students for careers in college or university teaching, social research, or public service. To accomplish this goal, the program is centered on two tasks: 1) the Comprehensive Examination which tests candidates for mastery of substantive subfields of sociology and competency in scholarship and research, and 2) the Ph.D. dissertation, an original contribution to scholarship and research. Students must also fulfill all the general requirements of the Graduate School.

A total of 51 hours of course credit is required for the Ph.D., of which 30 hours is applied to the M.A. degree. Students are required to take a two-semester course in sociological theory, two semesters of statistics, research design, and a writing course.

It is expected that comprehensive examinations will be taken in the second semester of the third year, and certainly not later than the first semester of the fourth year. Students entering the program with an M.A. from another institution should take the examinations in the second year of residence. Students select as their fields of concentration two accepted, broadly defined, areas in sociology. In all instances, the Graduate Studies Committee must approve the fields proposed by the student. The Comprehensive Examination consists of four parts: 1. colloquium presentation of an original scholarly contribution, ordinarily a research paper suitable for publication in professional journals; 2. take-home examination in one field, or students may do a second paper area in lieu of the take-home examination; 3. proposed graduate course syllabus in the same field as the papers; and 4. an oral examination covering the preceding three parts.

Upon successfully passing the Comprehensive Examination and completing all course requirements, the student is admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree and may proceed with the dissertation. A public oral final examination, not necessarily limited to the dissertation, is also required at its completion.

Applicants for admission to graduate study in sociology are expected to be familiar with fundamental sociological concepts and literatures. Candidates may be asked to remove deficiencies, without receiving graduate credit, prior to or after admission.

Applications for admission are not evaluated until all credentials have been received. These include Graduate Record Examination scores, three letters of recommendation, and a personal statement explaining reasons for application, plans, and any special circumstances the committee should consider, and transcripts of all previous academic study. Applicants are urged to submit copies of written work (research papers, honors theses, M.A. theses, etc.), with their applications. Students requesting any form of financial aid are responsible for ensuring that all application materials are on file in the Graduate School by January 15 (for fall entrance). Students are admitted to start their studies in the fall semester. Only in exceptional circumstances are admissions made for study in spring semester.

Applicants from countries whose native language is not English must, in addition to submitting all the above credentials, take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The Graduate School also requires all foreign students to take an English examination at the beginning of their initial semester after admission. Remedial work may be prescribed on the basis of this examination.

Financial support for graduate study is available in the form of scholarships, teaching assistantships, and research assistantships, all of which carry tuition remission plus nine-month stipends of approximately $14,516. Health insurance and a curriculum fee waiver is also included.

Persons interested in applying for graduate study are urged to visit the website: www.umass.edu/sociol/.