Ph.D. in Sociology

UConn’s Ph.D. in Sociology trains students to scientifically analyze culture, human interactions, and social relationships. Graduates pursue careers in academia, research, government, and industry, where they work on important topics that impact our society.

The Department of Sociology offers a Master of Arts (MA) and a Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Sociology. Most students enter with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) and obtain the MA in Sociology in the first two years of the program, then proceed to the Ph.D.

Students who are admitted with the MA in Sociology from another institution will typically finish the Ph.D. program in a shorter time. Students entering with graduate degrees in disciplines other than Sociology must fulfill the requirements of both the MA and Ph.D.

Degree Requirements

Below are the general requirements for the Sociology MA/Ph.D. degree, consistent with the Graduate School policies in the Graduate Catalog. For more detailed information please see the Graduate Handbook.

MA/Ph.D. Track

Students entering the Ph.D. program without a Master of Arts in Sociology (with completed thesis) must complete additional requirements to earn a Master's degree before completing the requirements for the Ph.D. in Sociology. It is expected that most students will complete the MA degree in two years.

In Sociology, students follow the Plan A (thesis) requirements for the Master's degree and continue into the Ph.D. program. Students only enroll in the Plan B (non-thesis) program if they will be discontinuing from the MA/Ph.D. program.

See the Registrar's Steps to a Successful Graduation with a Master's Degree for full information regarding required timelines and paperwork.

Courses and Credits for the MA

The Master’s degree in Sociology requires a minimum of 39 credits in Sociology, including the following:

  • SOCI 5001 & 5002 Proseminar (year long, 3 credits)
  • SOCI 5201 The Logic of Social Research (3 credits)
  • SOCI 5203 Quantitative Methods I (3 credits)
  • SOCI 5231 Qualitative Methods I (3 credits)
  • SOCI 5251 Core Theorists (3 credits)
  • GRAD 5950 Master’s Thesis Research (9 credits)
  • Plus 15 additional credits in Sociology

    MA Plan of Study

    The Master’s plan of study should be filed by the end of the fourth week of the student’s final semester before the degree is completed. Make sure to count only 39 Sociology credits toward the Master’s Degree. Additional credits can be carried forward to the Ph.D. program.

    Credits for 6203 and 6231 should not be included on the MA Plan of Study and will carry forward to the Ph.D. program. Students that decide to take both SOCI 6203 & SOCI 6231 in the same semester of their second year will need to take an additional elective in the Spring of the second year.


      To complete a Master’s thesis, students need to have their Master’s thesis research plan approved by their Advisory Committee. Students in consultation with their Advisory Committee may be asked to hold a Master’s thesis proposal defense, but a formal proposal defense is not required of a Master’s thesis. All students who complete a Master’s thesis must pass a formal Master’s thesis defense. Students are expected to complete the Master’s thesis ideally by the end of their fourth semester in the program.

      Plan B (non-thesis)

      Students who do not wish to continue in the program may elect to complete the Plan B option. In addition to completion of the coursework outlined above, students must also submit a portfolio of their scholarly work. The portfolio should consist of a minimum of 3 papers, each at least 15 pages in length, that together illustrate a command of sociological theory, research methods, and at least one substantive area. The scholarly work may originate from:

      1. Formal course requirements, such as research papers that demonstrate competency in one or more of the areas outlined above. Students are urged to pursue with their Advisory Committee the appropriateness of course related submissions
      2. Research or writing done in an independent study
      3. Non-course related accomplishments, such as grant proposals or conference presentations

      In all cases, any written material that is co-authored is not eligible for submission as part of the student’s portfolio. The portfolio should be designed in consultation with the major advisor and will be evaluated by the student’s three-person advisory committee. Please note, students who choose this option cannot continue into the PhD portion of the program and thus the election of this option is only advised for students seeking a terminal Master’s degree.

      Please note that Plan B students do not receive thesis credits. These students must take additional elective classes to attain the 39 total credits necessary for the Plan B Master's.

      Ph.D. Track

      Once the MA is completed, the Ph.D. typically requires an additional four years to complete. Students entering the Ph.D. program with a MA in Sociology, with a completed thesis, may be required to complete additional coursework to cover equivalent material as students who attained their degrees at UConn.

      See the Registrar's Steps to a Successful Graduation with a Doctoral Degree for full information regarding required timelines and paperwork.

      Courses and Credits for the Ph.D.

      • 6 credits of required courses:
        • SOCI 6203 Quantitative Methods II (3credits)
        • SOCI 6231 Qualitative Methods II (3 credits)
      • 12 credits of Sociology elective seminars
      • 15 credits of GRAD 6950 Doctoral Dissertation Research

      Major Advisor and Advisory Committee

      All students in the graduate program must have a Major Advisor who is a tenured or tenure track member of the Sociology Department and the UConn Graduate Faculty. The Major Advisor should be selected by mutual consent between the student and the faculty member based on similarity of interests and/or availability of the faculty member. The Major Advisor serves as a mentor to the student, Chair of the Master’s Thesis Committee, General (Area) Exam Committee, and Dissertation Committee. The Director of Graduate Studies will facilitate the selection of an initial Major Advisor for students entering the program. Students may change the Major Advisors if it becomes apparent that another faculty member is more suitable. In such cases, appropriate forms must be filed with the Graduate School to make the change official. By the start of their second year in the program, all students should have an Advisory Committee of at least three members, the composition of which is described in the paragraph below. The Advisory Committee serves as the student’s Master’s Thesis Committee.

      The members of the Advisory Committee are also chosen by mutual consent of the student and the faculty members. The Advisory Committee consists of two faculty members in addition to the Major Advisor. In cases where the student forms a three-person Advisory Committee, all three must be members of the Sociology Department or affiliated members of the Sociology Department. All members of the three-person Advisory Committee must be members of the UConn Graduate Faculty. In cases where the student forms an Advisory Committee of more than three faculty members, these faculty must meet the same requirements, except that a fourth and fifth member may also be: a) a faculty member from another UConn department who is a member of the Graduate Faculty, b) a faculty member from another university who receives approval from the Graduate School.

      Most students constitute an Advisory Committee of only three members during the M.A. portion of the program and increase the Advisory Committee to four or five persons during the PhD portion of the program. The decision about the size of the Advisory Committee is at the discretion of the student in consultation with the Advisor and other members of the Advisory Committee. Students may change members of their Advisory Committees if other faculty are more suitable and are willing to serve. When a change is made to the Advisory Committee, appropriate paperwork should be filed.

      Ph.D. Plan of Study

      The Ph.D. plan of study should be submitted when no more than 18 credits of coursework toward the degree have been completed. Forms should be filed with the Registrar’s Office. The Plan of Study should reflect all content coursework and research credits (GRAD 6950). Please note that students who completed more than 39 credits before filing for their MA degree should include the excess credits on the Ph.D. Plan of Study.

      Ph.D. General Exam

      The General Exam must be taken after all Sociology coursework for the Ph.D. is completed (including removal of all incompletes), unless there is unanimous consent by the General Exam Committee that it can occur earlier. The General Exam is designed to demonstrate mastery over at least one area, of sociological expertise, but two areas is more typical. The Exam should be considered a “bridge” between coursework and the dissertation. It is designed to go beyond previous coursework that a student has taken, and to be broader than a dissertation-specific topic. The breadth of the General Exam should dovetail with that of an ASA section or the intersection of two ASA sections.

      The reading list for the General Exam will be tailored to the student’s interests within the area and will be determined by a process of negotiation between the student and the members of the General Exam Committee. Those faculty members with greater expertise in the area will typically have greater influence in shaping the reading list, but all committee members must approve the list before the exam can be scheduled.

      The General Exam shall have both a written and oral component. It is important to simultaneously schedule both the written and the oral components. Students will have two weeks to complete the written portion. The written portion is take-home, with open book and open notes. Students will typically respond to at least three questions designed to emphasize a broad understanding of theory, methods, and substantive areas. Faculty have leeway as to how they ask questions and what choices students have in answering questions. Student responses must be 40 pages or less (not counting references).

      The oral portion of the General Exam must be completed within one week of turning in the written portion. During the oral portion, committee members may probe answers that seem insufficient, ask about questions the student did not choose to answer, or raise anything else within the parameters of the reading list. There can be no feedback from committee members to the student between the written and oral portions, except for questions of clarification.

      The written and oral portions shall be assigned a single grade of either “Pass” or “Fail.” A grade of “Pass” requires a positive vote of at least four members of the General Exam Committee. There is no grade of “Partial Pass” and there is no provision for retaking just a portion of the General Exam.

      If the student fails the General Exam, they may schedule a second opportunity to take it within six months of failing the first exam. The student may constitute a new General Exam Committee for the second exam, but ordinarily this is not advisable. If the student fails the exam a second time, or does not complete it within six months, this is grounds for dismissal from the graduate program.

      Dissertation Proposal

      According to Graduate School rules, the Dissertation Committee must consist of five faculty members. If the student’s Advisory Committee has less than five members, then the student must ask additional faculty members to be present at the dissertation defense as members of the Dissertation Committee. A fourth and fifth member may also be:

      • a faculty member in Sociology who is a member of the Graduate Faculty
      • a faculty member from another UConn department who is a member of the Graduate Faculty
      • a faculty member from another university who receives approval by the Graduate School. These additional members do not have voting status on passing the dissertation, but they must sign the paperwork required to indicate they were present at the defense.

      The decision to approve the dissertation is made by those members of the Dissertation Committee who are also members of the student’s Advisory Committee. Approval of the dissertation is thus determined by a majority of faculty on the Advisory Committee voting to approve the dissertation. A majority is defined as 2-1 in the case of a three-person Advisory Committee, 3-1 in the case of a four-person Advisory Committee, and 3-2 in the case of a five-person Advisory Committee.

      Final Semester

      Student's should complete these steps to prep for graduation in their final semester:

      1. Apply to Graduate in the Student Administration System by the fourth week of the semester. This application can be withdrawn at any time by the student if needed.
      2. Check name and addresses
      3. Prepare for oral defense (two weeks prior)
      4. Submit final paperwork (deadline published on Academic Calendar)
      5. Submit dissertation
      6. Check email to confirm progress of steps to graduation

      See the Registrar's Steps to a Successful Graduation for the Doctoral Degree for full details regarding degree conferral.


      Applications are due by January 5.

      Prospective students may apply to the program online via the Graduate School’s website.

      Contact the Director of Graduate Studies

      For more information about the Ph.D. in Sociology, please contact:

      Jeremy Pais