Department of Sociology
Curriculum and Requirements
The M.A. degree is offered in five programmatic areas: Applied Demography, Criminology, Demography, Family Studies and Social Psychology. All Master's degree students are required to complete graduate courses in Classical Sociological Theory (SOC 6010), Statistical Packages (SOC 6090), Statistical Techniques and Applications in Sociology (SOC 6100), Intermediate Methodology (SOC 6110), and Intermediate Statistics (SOC 6120). One exception is that Classical Sociological Theory is not required for students in the Applied Demography program.
Each of the five programmatic areas of study at the M.A. level specifies course requirements in addition to those noted above. Further information about these requirements is presented in the specialty area program statements available here.
Only grades of A or B are acceptable in required courses. Students who do not achieve a grade of A or B in these courses may be permitted to (a) repeat the course or (b) take a comparable course in another department. Option (b) is available only if the student has first taken the departmental course and achieved a grade lower than B. Any course taken under Option (b) must first be approved by the Graduate Committee and the area faculty. Under no circumstances will an independent studies course be permitted as a substitute for a required course in which the student has earned a grade of C or lower.
A minimum grade point average of 3.0 in graduate work is required to maintain academic good standing at the M.A. level. A student whose grade point average falls below this level will be placed on academic probation and may lose funding. Two consecutive semesters of academic probation status will result in dismissal from the program.
Occasionally, students also develop independent readings courses (SOC 6850) with professors who possess an expertise in an area where courses are not regularly offered. A maximum of 6 hours of Readings in Sociology, also referred to as Independent Study, may be used by a student to satisfy the credit requirements of the M.A. degree. However, these credits do not count toward the area course requirements.
To receive the M.A. degree, students are required to complete a formal thesis and a minimum of 30 semester hours of graduate course work. At least 3, but not more than 6, of these required 30 hours may be thesis credit (SOC 6990). However, more than 6 hours of SOC 6990 may be accumulated by students who earn more than 30 credit hours. The Master's thesis should be an original contribution to the research literature. Prior to beginning formal work on the thesis, the student must form a thesis committee. The thesis committee consists minimally of the student's thesis advisor and two other full-time graduate faculty from the Department of Sociology. However, it is possible for a student to request that a faculty member from another department substitute for one of the sociology department members.
A public oral presentation of the thesis proposal is required. The proposal is a detailed description of the research problem and theoretical and methodological approaches taken to examine it. At least one week prior to the suggested date of the proposal defense, the student and advisor will notify the entire department of the upcoming defense and make available to all interested parties, in the main departmental office, a copy of the proposal. Failure to either notify the department or to make available a copy of the proposal at least one week prior to the defense will result in the postponement of the proposal defense. This notification period is required so that all interested parties are given an appropriate opportunity to review the proposal and to make the necessary arrangements to attend the defense.
After successfully defending the proposal, the student must apply to the Graduate College for approval of the topic; a minimum GPA of 3.0 in all graduate work is required to apply for thesis topic approval. Once a student has a thesis proposal approved by the Graduate College, s/he must be in continuous registration for at least one hour of SOC 6990 per semester, excluding summers, until the thesis is completed. Students who plan to graduate during the summer session must be enrolled in SOC 6990 that term.
Upon completion of the thesis, the student must pass a public oral defense conducted by his/her committee. As in the case of the thesis proposal defense, all departmental members must be notified at least one week prior to the thesis defense, and a copy of the thesis must simultaneously be made available in the departmental offices. Failure to provide at least one week’s notice will result in postponement of the defense. In addition to an examination over the thesis content area, the defense also evaluates the student's general knowledge of sociology. The final copy of the completed thesis must be received in the Graduate College by the published deadline set by the College. This date is approximately four weeks prior to commencement. Students failing to meet this deadline will not be eligible for graduation that semester.
For more information, click to see the Graduate Student Handbook.