Sociology Curriculum Details

Program Overview

The average time to degree for students in the Doctoral Program in Sociology is between 5 and 7 years. The student “life cycle” is divided into three unique but interdependent stages: 1) coursework and qualifying exams in Social Theory and Medical Sociology; 2) Third Area Qualifying Examination; and 3) the Dissertation.

A. Coursework (to be completed in first two to three years)

Social Theory Sequence (offered in odd years; e.g., 2011/2012)

  • S212A Classical Theory
  • S212 B Contemporary Theory
  • S212C Symbolic Interactionism and Poststructuralist Theory

Medical Sociology Sequence (offered in even years; e.g., 2012/2013)

  • S207, Sociology of Health and Illness
  • S208, Social Psychology of Health and Illness
  • S260, Health Policy

Quantitative Methodology Sequence (in a student’s first year)

  • S289A, Quantitative Methodology I
  • S289B, Quantitative Methodology II

Qualitative Methodology Sequence (in a student’s second year)

  • S285A, Qualitative Methodology I
  • S285B, Qualitative Methodology II

Area of Emphasis (Coursework only, but relates to Third Area Exam)

Advanced Statistics Course (to be worked out with advisor)

Professional Development Seminar (required year 1; optional in subsequent years)

Proposal Preparation Seminar (year 1) & TAE Seminar (year2) – both highly recommended

B. Qualifying Exams (to be completed in first two years)

Social Theory Qualifying Exam (offered in odd years; e.g., 2011/2012)

Medical Sociology Qualifying Exam (offered in even years; e.g., 2012/2013)

C. Third Area Qualifying Examination (TAE) (to be completed in third year)

  • Select committee and submit forms by January of third year
  • Submit completed “exam” by March 1 of third year
  • Advancement to candidacy (necessary to receive dissertation level funding) occurs one quarter after completion of Third Area Qualifying Examination
  • Begin search for appropriate dissertation research funding after TAE approval.

D. Dissertation

  • Form Dissertation Committee and submit forms: done one month after the Third Area Qualifying Exam is passed and preferably sooner.
  • Dissertation Proposal: Submit within six months after advancement to candidacy
  • Dissertation Proposal Defense (one month after proposal submitted)
  • Summer after year 3: apply for Dissertation funding
  • Meetings with Dissertation Committee members: as needed
  • Dissertation Submission: for June graduation, complete draft due April 1 to Committee Chair
  • Dissertation defense: prior to graduating; scheduled when approved by Committee Chair


Coursework in the Doctoral Program in Sociology consists of the core curriculum, at least one declared area of emphasis, electives, and the Professional Development Seminar in the first year. It is also highly recommended that you enroll in both of the student-run seminars, the Proposal Preparation Seminar (year 1) & TAE Seminar (year 2). For a complete list of the courses offered by faculty in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, please visit the course catalog at the Office of the Registrar: web page.

Core Curriculum

For the first two years, students are focused primarily on coursework. The Doctoral Program in Sociology has required courses in both methodology (quantitative in the first year and qualitative in the second) and sociology (the Social Theory and Medical Sociology sequences).

Area of Emphasis

Beyond the core curriculum, the doctoral program has four areas of substantive emphasis: (1) aging, chronic illness, and disability; (2) health care economics and policy; (3) race/class/gender and health; and (4) science, technology and medicine studies. Students must select at least one area formally but are encouraged to take courses in each of the different areas. By the end of their third year, students are expected to have completed at least 2 courses in their emphasis/es.