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"Graduate Program Requirements" stack of books

Student Expectations

Graduate students should be familiar with all expectations, requirements, and policies associated with each graduate program.  the Department of Sociology Graduate Handbook provides a comprehensive review of all program requirements, expectations, and resources.  Students should also regularly consult the Graduate School Policies and Guidelines located at teh Graduate School website.  Links provided on the side bar of this page.                

In addition to the handbook, students should regularly consult the Graduate School Policies and Guidelines located at the Graduate School website.  

PhD Program Requirements

The PhD program requirements are designed to be completed in 5 years.  Doctoral students should track their progress through the program requirements with the following worksheet:  [link to milestone tracker document]

  • The Program of Study refers to the coursework and credit hours required by a graduate program. PhD students must be in residence at least two consecutive semesters, complete a minimum of 14 credit hours of SOC 7977 “Dissertation Research,” and successfully finish all required courses including Proseminar, Professional Development Forum, Social Theory, Research Methods, Stats I, Stats II, Research Ethics, Teaching in Higher Education, at least three elective seminars, one course in advanced methods/stats, and several self-directed courses related to exam preparation and the completion of other program milestones.  All courses must be passed with a letter grade of B or better.
  • The Comprehensive Area Exam evaluates the students’ ability to demonstrate a commanding knowledge of the relevant theories, methods, and current research literature in a substantive area, one of the department’s two areas of emphasis (Global Comparative Sociology or Population & Health). It is a written exam in which students have a 72-hour period to write 3 to 4 distinct essays.  Students will be given an approved reading list to help them prepare for the exam.  A committee of faculty, comprised of the faculty associated with each program area, will grade exams awarding the student one of the following grades:  fail, marginal pass, conditional pass, pass.   The Comprehensive Area Exam is typically taken at the end of spring semester during year 2.
  • The Third Year Research Paper is an independent research project in which a student produces a publishable-like manuscript that contains empirical analysis. Students will typically work on this project over two semesters (fall and spring) of their third year, after they have successfully passed their Comprehensive Area Exam.  The student will select faculty mentors to serve as the Primary and Secondary Reader. 
  • Prior to starting the dissertation-related requirements, the student must form a Supervisory Committee.  The Supervisory Committee consists of five faculty members, the majority of whom must be regular faculty in the Department of Sociology.  The chair of the committee must be a core faculty member in the Department of Sociology. One member of the committee must be appointed from a department other than Sociology.
  • The Qualifying Exam is a series of projects related to establishing one’s own research agenda, and when completed, mark the important transition from a doctoral student to a doctoral candidate. The Qualifying Exam is typically completed before the end of year 4. It includes two components:  The research proposal outlines a detailed plan for a dissertation project, as well as a clear description of how the project is framed within and contributes to the literature associated with that topic. The first part of the document includes an extended analytic literature review.  The second part of the document will include a clear statement of the research question(s), a description of the methodology including a description of the data or data collection plan as well as how the data will be analyzed, and a proposed timeline for a dissertation project.  Students are required to discuss the written research proposal during an oral defense that is approximately two hours in length.  During this defense, the Supervisory Committee will ask questions about the literature review to ensure the student knows the relevant literature deeply and broadly.  The Supervisory Committee will also ask the student to justify the proposed research design and offer critique and suggestions on how to improve the research design.  Once the Supervisory Committee is satisfied (i.e., awards a “pass” on the qualifying exam), the student is free to complete the dissertation research.
  • A dissertation is the final requirement of a doctoral degree (PhD). A dissertation is an original piece of research that provides evidence of a student's ability to conduct an independent investigation. A dissertation should make a unique contribution to a specialized field of knowledge in Sociology. To complete this final requirement, students will prepare a written manuscript called a thesis, and pass an oral examination called the final It is typically completed during Year 5. 

M-Stat Program Requirements

M-Stat students should track their progress according to the M-Stat guidelines:

  • The Program of Study refers to the coursework and credit hours required by a graduate program. The M-Stat in Sociology requires the successful completion of 37 credit hours, consisting of courses related to the research foundations and theories within the discipline of Sociology, Math/Statistics, and an independent research/capstone project.
  • The Research Project is an independent research experience in which a student produces a publishable-like manuscript that uses statistical analysis to answer a specific research question within the traditions and theoretical perspectives of Sociology. The paper should be of a scope that can be completed in one year given the students’ current capabilities, access to data, and any other resources needed to complete the project.     

Annual Evaluation

Graduate students in the Department of Sociology are expected to (a) pass the requirements of any course in which they enroll, (b) meet the expectations and milestones of their graduate program, (c) adhere to standards of academic honesty, and (d) uphold the professional and ethical standards of the discipline.

All students in the sociology graduate programs are required to complete a self-evaluation each spring (by April 1st). This self-evaluation focuses on the accomplishments and progress of the student for the past academic year, with specific attention paid to whether or not s/he has successfully completed program requirements that keep him/her on track and in good standing in the program.   [Link to Self-Eval Form]

During this evaluation period, faculty members consult the self-evaluation forms submitted by each student, as well as additional documentation including:  official grades, teaching evaluations (if applicable), online grad tracking system, and written and verbal assessments from any faculty member in the department.  Funded students will also be assessed on their performance as a TA, GA, or RA, as evaluated by the faculty member who supervised their work.  Typically by mid-May, each student will receive an evaluation letter containing:  

  • A review of the student’s progress, performance, and achievement of academic goals
  • Advice for what the student should focus on in upcoming years
  • Specific timelines and expectations, if the student is deficient in any regard
  • An evaluation of the student’s performance as a TA, RA, or GA, if funded as one of these job classifications
  • Status of the student’s funding (if applicable), including if they will receive funding from the department for the following academic year (including how much), as well as the number of years of remaining TBP eligibility the student has.
Dr. Wade Cole

Director of Graduate Studies

Sociology Graduate Program
380 S 1530 E Rm 301
Salt Lake City UT 84112-0250

Last Updated: 4/12/21