Masters Program

Study for the MA degree includes a sequence of required core courses, elective courses, and a master's thesis. Graduate study for the MA degree is expected to take between two and two-and-a-half years of full-time or full-time -equivalent study (or less for a student transferring credit for prior graduate study).


For the MA degree, a student must earn 36 credits in approved graduate studies (or less if credit is transferred from graduate study completed at another institution). Graduate study for the MA requires ten courses (three credits each) and an MA thesis (six credits).


The studies, earning also the MA on the way, may be sequenced as follows:

First Year

  • Quantitative Methods
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Social Theory
  • 3 Elective courses

Second Year

  • Master's Thesis (6 credits)
  • 4 Elective Courses

Third Year

  • 4 Elective Courses
  • Elective Course
  • Comp Preparation (6 credits)*
    *May be distributed over two terms,

Fourth Year

  • Directed Study for PhD (6 credits)
  • Overview of dissertation
  • Defense of Dissertation

A student must maintain a grade point average of at least 3.0 (B or better) to remain in good standing in the University. Students with a grade point average below 3.0 are placed on academic probation and are ineligible for scholarship and fellowship support.


The Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) supervises the graduate program as the representative of the department in all academic matters concerning graduate students. The DGS interprets the requirements to students, registers all students for their courses each term, monitors the progress of students through the program and their satisfaction of requirements on schedule, and acts to enforce departmental and university rules and polices. The DGS also acts as an advocate for the graduate students to the department.

Upon a student’s accepting admission to the graduate program, she or he is advised by the DGS. Before the end of the first year, the student chooses a faculty advisor in the student's intended area of training and expertise within Sociology. The faculty advisor offers advice, assistance and consultation, including (but not limited to) counsel in designing a course of study appropriate to the student’s interests. A student may at any time choose a new faculty advisor. When a student is formally admitted to PhD candidacy, the functions of advice, assistance, and consultation are normally passed to the dissertation chair, who is then the official advisor of the student.

The Master’s Thesis

The Master's Thesis is expected to demonstrate ability to develop and execute a sociological-research project. The completion and defense of the thesis is expected by the end of the second year of graduate study and required by the middle of the third year.

During the second term of the first year, the student chooses a topic for the Master's Thesis and selects a thesis advisor. The student's MA thesis committee should consist of the thesis advisor and two other faculty members, approved by the director of graduate studies.

Early in the first semester of the second year, the student should submit and gain committee approval for a thesis proposal. Throughout the second year, the student conducts the research to produce a thesis manuscript suitable for submission to an academic journal. The student defends the thesis in an oral examination conducted by the thesis committee.

This course of graduate study earns the MA degree and is also the basis for further study leading to the PhD degree.