PhD Sociology: Curriculum

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 two unique but interdependent stages: 1) coursework and qualifying exams in Social Theory, Medical Sociology and Quantitative and Qualitative Methods; and 2) the dissertation.

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

Social Theory Sequence (offered in odd years; e.g., 2019/20)

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

Medical Sociology Sequence (offered in even years; e.g., 2018/19)

  • S207 Sociology of Health and Illness
  • S208 Constructionist & Interactionist Perspectives on Health & Illness
  • S260 Health Policy

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

  • S289A Advanced Quantitative Research Methods I
  • S289B Advanced Quantitative Research Methods II

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

  • N212A Qualitative Data Collection and Methods (Spring of first year)
  • S285A Qualitative Methodology I (Fall of second year)
  • S285B Qualitative Methodology II (Winter of second year)

Area of Emphasis

Advanced Statistics Course (to be worked out with advisor)

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

S237 Proposal Preparation Seminar (year 1)  & S215 Dissertation Proposal Seminar(year 2) – both highly recommended

B. Qualifying Exams in Social Theory and Medical Sociology (to be completed in first two years)

Social Theory Qualifying Exam (offered in odd years; e.g., 2017/2018)

Medical Sociology Qualifying Exam (offered in even years; e.g., 2018/2019)

C. Qualifying Examinations in Quantitative and Qualitative Methods (to be completed at the end of year 2)

  • Students must successfully complete the course series' S289A/B and S285A/B
  • “Application for Qualifying Examination” form should be submitted in the second year before the start of the Spring quarter
  • Faculty will evaluate examination, a final presentation
  • Form “Report on Qualifying Examination for Admission to Candidacy” should be completed between the Summer (at the end of the of the second year) and Fall (of the third year).

D. Dissertation

  • Form Dissertation Committee and submit forms: done directly after all  Qualifying Exams are 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.

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). Students follow the core curriculum by registering as follows:

Note: S272 Dissertation Writing Seminar is offered in either the winter or spring as needed.

Area of Emphasis

Beyond the core curriculum, the 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.