graduate: Ph.D. Program

About the Program

The focus of the Ph.D. program is on developing professional skills within specialized areas of sociology. These areas of study and examination for doctoral students represent distinct substantive concentrations that contain their own bodies of literature, reflect different theoretical perspectives, and may require different substantive and methodological knowledge. Students in the Ph.D. program must identify two (2) areas in which they will pursue course work and take the appropriate written Comprehensive Examinations. Listed below are the three specialized areas of study:

Social Inequality: Race/ Ethnicity/ Nationality, Class and Gender/ Sexuality

This concentration focuses on the forces that produce and reproduce the various aspects of social inequality in the U.S. and global society. It analyses historic systems and structures of global capitalism and economic exploitation, political oppression and domination including white supremacy and patriarchy, and ideological and cultural hegemony and their contemporary expressions in the 21st century globalized electronic-based society. It also examines agencies of transformation and social movements, the theory-practice nexus and public sociology that seek to change policy and/or eliminate the systemic roots of social inequality. Students apply theoretical, methodological and pedagogical skills to study a broad range of issues and problems related to social inequality and social change.

Medical Sociology

Medical Sociology focuses on the social contexts of physical and mental health. It examines the subjective aspects of illness, the interplay of social inequality and health and health behaviors, and physician patient relationships with a focus on gender and race. In addition, it presents a discussion on the organization and structure of the healthcare system and the social forces that influence that system. Core courses also stress the dynamics of health populations, the etiology of diseases, the distribution of health conditions as a result of socio-demographic and related conditions and health services research. Students apply their theoretical and analytical skills to investigate topics relevant to health, illness, and healthcare.


Criminology focuses on critically analyzing complex issues facing the criminal justice system. It focuses on crime, crime victims, offenders, theories of criminality, criminal justice policies, and social control and deviance. Central to the study of Criminology in this department is the deconstruction of concepts related to crime and deviance, particularly as they relate to labeling and punishment of offenders. Additionally, the curriculum focuses on the interconnectivity of inequality and gender dynamics as they relate to offending and victimization patterns. Students are also charged with examining the expression of crime and deviance within the context of the larger social, economic, and cultural systems of society. It is in this vain that students apply their theoretical and analytical skills to investigate topics that are related to crime, victimization, social and criminal justice policies, and methods of social control.


Residency Requirement

At least four (4) semesters of full-time residence are required for the doctorate in sociology. To qualify for full-time residency, a student must enroll for at least nine (9) graduate course credits each semester. For more information, see revised rules and regulations of the Graduate School at


Qualifying Examination

The Qualifying Examination is required of all doctoral students. It is administered only to students who have the M.A. degree and satisfactorily fulfill the core course requirements. It is the responsibility of the student to request, in writing through his/her major advisor, permission to take the examination at least 30 calendar days before it is administered. 
The student must take a Qualifying Examination before or at the end of the second year of doctoral study. It is a written examination covering two areas:
1) Sociological Theory and General Sociology; and
2) Research Methods and Statistics.

Students must take Sociological Theory I and II, Sociological Research I and II, Advanced Statistics I and II, and 6 credit hours in Research Methods prior to sitting for the Qualifying Examination. These courses must be completed satisfactorily with a grade of B or better.

The Qualifying Examination is given twice during the academic year on the last Monday and succeeding Wednesday of October and March. Grades will be expressed in terms of Pass, Fail, Conditional Pass, and will be reported to the Chairperson of the Department, who shall notify the student of the examination results. Any student who fails one or both parts of the Qualifying Examination must retake the part (s) failed at the next sitting for the examination, e.g., failure in October must be retaken in March. A student who fails the same section of the examination twice is disqualified from continuing in the degree program. For more information, see revised rules and regulations of the Graduate School at


Comprehensive Examinations

Upon completion of course work in two areas of specialization the student is required to pass written Comprehensive Examinations in two specialized areas of study. Exams are offered in the Spring and Fall semester. Students must receive permission from their advisors to register for the exams. Student who fails the exam must schedule to retake the exam the following semester.


Foreign Language Requirement

All doctoral students must fulfill a foreign language requirement. For more information see revised rules and regulations of the Graduate School at


Dissertation Proposal

When students have completed course and examination requirements, they are ready to start the dissertation process. The first step is to write a dissertation proposal under the guidance of a dissertation advisor. Once completed, with the approval of advisor and committee, the student has an oral defense of her proposal. For further information about the dissertation process see revised rules and regulations of the Graduate School at


Admission to Candidacy for the Ph.D. Degree

The student will be admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree in sociology after satisfying the following requirements: 1) Completing the dissertation proposal 2) completion of Graduate School and Department of Sociology and Criminology requirements. Admission to candidacy must be received at least one semester prior to receiving the degree.


Ph.D. Dissertation Advisory Committee

The student prepares the dissertation with the assistance of the dissertation advisory committee. Student may choose their dissertation advisory committee based on the graduate faculty status and expertise in the chosen areas.


Final Oral Examination

Students are required to pass the final oral defense after they have approval from their committee and the Graduate School. The oral defense provides student with an opportunity to showcase their unique application of Sociological Theory and Methods to their chosen area of research.