Why study sociology?

Sociology investigates the social institutions and processes that shape human behavior, histories, and opportunities.

Admission to Graduate Studies

An applicant seeking to pursue graduate study in the College may be admitted as either a degree-seeking or non-degree seeking student. Policies and procedures of Graduate Studies govern the process of Graduate admission. These may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

Please consult the Departments & Programs section of the online catalog for information regarding program-specific admissions criteria and requirements. Special admissions requirements pertain to Interdisciplinary Studies degrees, which may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

Graduate Admission

The Department of Sociology at the University of Kansas offers a Ph.D. program in sociology.  Upon admission, all students are enrolled as Ph.D. students, but must complete all requirements for a M.A. degree during their progress toward the Ph.D. degree.  Students are eligible to apply for the M.A. degree once these M.A. requirements are met.

To be considered for admission, applicants must have completed 15 credit hours in sociology, a course in sociological theory, and a course in statistics. Applications must include scores on the Graduate Record Examination aptitude tests. International applicants and/or non-native speakers of English must submit scores on the GRE and either the Test of English as a Foreign Language administered by ETS, the academic format of the International English Language Testing System administered by the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations, or the academic version of the Pearson Test of English.

Applications also must include:

  • A statement of academic interests and professional goals,
  • 3 recommendation rating forms and letters from individuals who can evaluate the applicant’s academic performance,
  • 1 complete set of transcripts from all colleges and universities attended,
  • A current résumé/curriculum vitae,
  • A writing sample, and
  • A nonrefundable application fee (see Admission in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog).

The applicant’s record should indicate considerable academic promise and a high level of motivation.

Submit your graduate application online. Most application materials can be attached to the online application. Send test scores and official transcripts of all completed university course work to the department:

The University of Kansas
Department of Sociology
Fraser Hall
1415 Jayhawk Blvd., Room 716
Lawrence, KS 66045

Ph.D. Degree Requirements

For the Ph.D., students must complete all M.A. degree requirements and the following Ph.D. requirements:

1. Students must complete 54 total hours of graduate credits for a Ph.D. Within the first 2 years of the program, students must complete the following M.A. level requirements. The M.A thesis must be supervised by a faculty member of the student’s choosing. If the students do not complete all the M.A. level requirements within the first 2 years of the program, the student will not become eligible for the renewal of their GTA/GRA funding.

2.                A. In the first 2 years, the students must complete: 36 hours of graduate credit, including: 

  • SOC 810 Sociological Inquiry
  • SOC 811 Sociological Research
  • SOC 812 Analytic Methods in Sociology
  • 1 additional graduate-level course in sociological methods,
  • 1 graduate-level course in sociological theory,
  • 5 graduate-level sociology seminars, and
  • 6 thesis hours in SOC 899
  • Begin compiling portfolios of their professional work.

*Individual Master’s Readings courses (SOC 891) may not be used to meet these requirements except by approved petition.

B. Preparation and defense of an M.A. thesis.

The defense of the M.A. thesis includes a general examination of sociological theory and research.

Completion of these requirements makes the student eligible to obtain the M.A. degree, and allows the student to proceed to doctoral study with the approval of the graduate committee. 

Non-Thesis Terminal M.A.: Students who do not wish to continue on to the Ph.D. and who do not complete an M.A. thesis may be awarded a terminal M.A. if they fulfill all the M.A. requirements (see the section below on Non-Thesis (Terminal) M.A. Option for details).

3. After completing the requirements for a M.A. degree, students must attain the requisite levels of competence in the history and theory of sociology and in methods of sociological research by completing the courses listed below. Students must complete the following coursework requirements, totaling 18 graduate credit hours, with a minimum GPA of 3.0:

  • 1 graduate-level sociology methods course,
  • 2 graduate-level courses in sociological theory, and
  • 3 graduate-level sociology seminars

*Individual Doctoral Readings courses (SOC 991) may not be used to meet these requirements except by approved petition.

4. Complete the Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship (RSRS) requirement. The university requires that every doctoral student have training in responsible scholarship and research skills pertinent to the field of research and appropriate to the doctoral level. This requirement must be met before taking the comprehensive oral exam. Doctoral students in sociology meet this requirement by completion of the following courses:  SOC 810, SOC 811, SOC 812, SOC 910.  Additional information about this requirement can be found under Doctoral Degree Requirements, Doctor of Philosophy, Research Skills in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

5. Students must compile portfolios of their professional work successfully demonstrating command of 2 fields of specialization within sociology and preparation to undertake dissertation research.

6. Pass an oral comprehensive examination and defense of dissertation proposal, within the first 6 semesters post-M.A. degree. The oral comprehensive examination and dissertation proposal defense occurs at the same time. The oral comprehensive examination refers to an oral examination of the student’s understanding of the 2 fields of specialization. The dissertation committee must consist of at least 5 members, 4 of whom are members of the sociology department.

7. The candidate must continue to enroll in accordance with the university post-comprehensive enrollment requirements until all Ph.D. degree requirements have been met.

8. Complete a dissertation.

9. Pass a final, oral examination on the dissertation.

Non-thesis (Terminal) MA Option

A student that wishes to complete the MA degree but does not wish to continue on for the Ph.D., may choose the non-thesis MA option. Non-thesis students must complete 36 hours of graduate credit including:

  • SOC 810 Sociological Inquiry
  • SOC 811 Sociological Research
  • 2 graduate-level courses in sociological methods, including SOC 812 Analytic Methods in Sociology
  • 1 graduate-level course in sociological theory, and
  • 7 graduate-level sociology seminars.

*Individual Master’s Readings courses (SOC 891) may not be used to meet these requirements except by approved petition. Completion of these requirements leads to the M.A. degree but does not allow the student to proceed to doctoral study.

A final oral examination over course work in sociology is also required.

Handbook for Graduate Students

A more detailed account of advising procedures, degree requirements, and program options is set forth in the department’s Manual of Graduate Study in Sociology, which is available online.