The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Fall 2014 Cohort

Earning the MA — Comps Option

This section applies if you want to either pick up an MA degree while working towards your PhD or to stop your graduate program after completing both comps. If you want to earn an MA degree by writing a master’s thesis instead of by completing two comps papers/exams, see Earning the MA — Thesis Option.

To acquire an MA degree on the way to your PhD, you need to complete (i) a minimum of 30 credits of coursework, including the required courses listed below and (ii) both comps. If you take all the courses required for the PhD (see Requirements), you will automatically have completed the course requirements for the MA, though you can fulfill the MA course requirements without taking all of the courses required for the PhD. Upon passing both comps, you can get your MA simply by filing a form with the Graduate School, assuming you have taken the required courses and completed the 30 course credits.

Required Courses

You must complete the following courses with a grade of B+ or better: SOCIOL 701, SOCIOL 710, SOCIOL 711, and SOCIOL 797W. This list is a subset of the courses required for the PhD listed under Requirements

Composition of Required Credits

You can count up to six Independent Study credits towards the 30 credit requirement. The UMass Graduate School imposes some additional requirements on the composition of the 30 credits you need for the MA, which you will most likely satisfy automatically if you follow the normal course track for the PhD. Of the 30 required course credits:

  • At least 24 credits must be earned in regular, non-Independent Study courses;
  • At least 21 credits must be earned in sociology courses;
  • At least 15 credits must be letter graded (i.e. not pass/fail); transfer credits do not count;
  • At least 12 credits must be earned in courses numbered 600-800; transfer credits do not count.

These rules differ for those who wish to stop the program with an MA or write a master’s thesis.