F.A.Q. – Current Graduate Students

How do I pick an advisor?

When you enter the graduate program, the Graduate Director will automatically be assigned as your adviser. As you meet faculty members, take courses in the department, and learn more about faculty research, you will have a better idea with whom you want to work. Both Master’s and doctoral students should pick an advisor by their second year in the program.

How many hours of Directed Readings/ Research or Independent Studies can I take?

M.A. students can have no more than 6 hours of Independent Studies.

Ph.D. students can have no more than 12 hours of Independent Study hours; including any hours taken during completion of their master’s degree.

Can credits taken outside the Sociology department be counted in my Program of Study?

M.A. students can use no more than 3 hours in their Program of Study, with approval of the Graduate Program Director.

Where can I find commonly used forms?

The COS Graduate Services site has complied the most commonly used graduate forms. Click here to view the forms.

What are comprehensive/qualifying exams?

Qualifying/comprehensive exams are given to all doctoral students.

Qualifying/comprehensive exams are designed to test your critical thinking skills and your knowledge of sociological theories, methods and concepts. These are taken after you complete the required coursework in a given area. Thus, it is helpful to keep detailed class notes and reading notes to help in preparing for these exams. You will also be provided a study guide at the beginning of the graduate program.

Students complete one qualifying exams at the doctoral level, comprised of three areas of focus: Methods/Statistics, Theory, and Major Area of Concentration. Students will complete this exam after all required coursework in the three areas have been successfully completed.

What is expected of Master’s students?

The program is intended to be a 2-year program if the student is enrolled full-time.

Students are expected to take core courses, take advantage of department opportunities such as workshops or colloquia, and then focus on their thesis research or completing requirements for the non-thesis (taking additional course and completion of applied project).

Students are expected to present at least one original research paper at a professional conference before graduation.

What is the thesis committee process?

Once you have chosen an advisor, she or he will help you select other members to serve on the committee. Doctoral students are required to have at least 3 departmental members and 1 outside member; Master’s students must have at least 3 members, including the chair.

Once the committee has been constituted, you must complete a Thesis/Dissertation Advisory Form. The committee must be approved before students can defend their thesis/dissertation proposal.

Master’s students may not enroll in thesis hours before their committees are approved and doctoral students may not enroll in dissertation hours until the committee is approved by the College of Sciences and College of Graduate Studies, and the dissertation proposal has been successfully defended.

If the student passes the formal defense of the thesis/dissertation, the committee signs the Thesis/Dissertation Approval Form, which is required for graduation.

What is expected of doctoral students?

The program is intended to be a 3-year program if the student is enrolled full-time. The following are the benchmarks we set for students:

    • Year 1. Students are expected to complete core courses, prepare for qualifying exams, and submit a manuscript for presentation at a professional conference. Students should also take advantage of department opportunities such as workshops or colloquia.
    • Year 2. Students are expected to present paper or poster at conference(s), take and pass qualifying exams, get dissertation advisor and committee, and submit a manuscript for publication.
    • Year 3. Pass candidacy exam, complete dissertation, and search/obtain employment.

Part-time students are expected to reach these same benchmarks but over 4-6 years rather than 3.

What is the dissertation process?

The dissertation represents original research that makes a significant contribution to the discipline or society.

Although the dissertation formally begins after students have completed coursework, passed their qualifying exams and defended their dissertation proposal, the process actually starts much earlier as students explore topics and areas of interest early in the program.

Once a topic and advisor are chosen, the student must defend the “proposal” to the dissertation committee. If approved, the student begins the intense process of collecting or obtaining data, analyzing and interpreting data, and writing the final dissertation, which is typically about 200 pages.

Upon completion and in consultation with the advisor, the student sets a “defense date.” Defenses represent a time when students present their findings and answer questions about the study. These are open to the public.

If the student passes the defense, they are recommended to the College of Graduate Studies for graduation.

Can I teach my own course?

We encourage all doctoral students to teach before they complete the program. In most cases, doctoral students serve as GTAs, assisting faculty members in their teaching, during their first year in the program. In years two and three, students on GTA funding teach their own courses.

Master’s students do not teach their own courses.

Are there any active Sociology Graduate clubs?

Yes. The program supports an active Graduate Sociology Club. The club’s facebook page is used to communicate informally and notify students of upcoming events. Click here to view the page and ‘Like’ the club page.