Year-by-Year Overview of Progress through the Graduate Program
First year students take foundational courses (2/semester) and electives (1/semester) to gain sociological knowledge and skills to conduct independent, original research projects and to communicate sociological work to students and others. Initial faculty mentors advise in academic matters and peer mentors advise in graduate life. By the end of first semester, each student will identify a chair and committee and will plan a Program of Study to complete their degree in Sociology. Students entering with a BA work on developing a thesis proposal. Nearly all students in the department are funded through assistantships; first-year students most typically perform teaching assistant duties for a faculty member, although some will be research assistants or fellows.
Second year graduate students continue to take seminars to develop their sociological knowledge and research skills, but also conduct an empirical research project under the guidance of their thesis chair and committee. Students continue to perform teaching assistant duties for the most part, although some are research assistants or fellows.
In the third year (or for those entering with an MA, In the second year), most students finish coursework, completing doctoral requirements in advanced methods and/or advanced analytic techniques and electives to fulfill their individualized program of study. Students (with an MA) may teach independently and some are teaching assistants; research assistantships are more likely post-Masters. Students participate in preliminary exams to establish readiness for doctoral work. First semester, students prepare a satisfactory portfolio of academic work (professional statement, curriculum vitae, and two examples of scholarship). Second semester, students taking preliminary exams will write an analytic, critical review of a literature, demonstrating topic mastery and pointing to fruitful avenues of future research (see Sociology Graduate Student Handbook for details).
Fourth and Fifth Years
Graduate students focus on developing their dissertation proposal in the first semester of the fourth year (third year for students with an MA from elsewhere) and then work on dissertation research until completion. Many graduate students also work with faculty or peers on research and engage in other professional activities such as grant-writing, attending professional conferences, and working with undergraduates. Graduate students typically teach independently or are research assistants. Students prepare for and go on the job market.
Current requirements for graduate degrees can be found in your cohort’s Graduate Student Handbook. Current and archived Handbooks are available online.