Why study sociology?

Sociology offers a distinct perspective on understanding the social world. Our discipline emphasizes how institutions and structural forces outside the individual—the family, organizations, politics, economics, culture—shape individual and group behavior, opportunities, and histories. As a major teaching and research unit, we seek to ensure that the knowledge imparted to our students is current and that they learn the skills of critical inquiry, analytical evaluation, and historical sensibilities.

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 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 (senior or master's thesis preferred)
  • GRE scores
  • A nonrefundable application fee (see Admission in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog)
  • Non-native speakers of English must meet English proficiency requirements as described here.

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.

Ph.D. Degree Requirements

For the Ph.D., students must complete 54 hours of graduate coursework, which includes both M.A. and Ph.D. coursework requirements. Thesis and dissertation hour enrollments are also required.

1. Within the first 2 years of the program, students must complete all M.A. level requirements, including coursework, portfolio, thesis, and a final exam. If a student does not complete all the M.A. level requirements within the first 2 years of the program, s/he will not be eligible for the renewal of his/her GTA/GRA funding. 36 hours of graduate credit are required for the M.A., including:

Required Courses6
Sociological Inquiry
Sociological Research
Analytic Methods in Sociology
Health Services Research: Epidemiology, Evaluation, and Survey Methods
Seminar on Special Topics in Methods: _____
The Rise of Social Theory
Classical Social Theory
Issues in Contemporary Theory: _____
Feminist Theories
Seminar on Special Topics in Theory: _____
Elective Seminars15
Sociology of Gender
Social Inequality
Seminar in Social Deviation and Control: _____
Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Gerontology and Aging
Advanced Topics in Sociology: _____
Political Sociology
Health and Social Behavior
International Political Economy
The Political Economy of Globalization
Seminar on Special Topics in Social Organizations: _____
Seminar on Special Topics in Comparative Studies: _____
Seminar on Topics in Demography, Ecology, and Community: _____
Seminar on Special Topics in Social Conflict and Change: _____

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

2. During their first year in the program, students must begin compiling portfolios of their professional work. 

3. Students must complete an M.A. thesis under the direction of a sociology faculty member of the student's choosing, an oral defense of the thesis, and a final exam for the M.A. Degree.

4. After completing the requirements for the M.A. degree above, 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 an additional 18 graduate credit hours from the coursework list above. This should include:

  • An additional 3 credit hours of theory
  • An additional 3 credit hours of methods
  • An additional 9 credit hours of electives

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

The doctoral student must also complete SOC 995 Professionalization Proseminar.

5. Students must 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.

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

7. Students must 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 occur 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.

8. The candidate must continue to enroll in accordance with the Office of Graduate Studies Post-comprehensive Enrollment policy until all Ph.D. degree requirements have been met.

9. Students must complete a dissertation and pass a final, oral examination on the dissertation.

Non-thesis (Terminal) M.A. Option

A student that wishes to complete a master's degree but does not wish to continue on to the doctoral level of the program may choose the non-thesis, terminal M.A. option. Completion of these requirements leads to the M.A. degree but does not allow the student to proceed to doctoral study. Non-thesis students must complete 30 hours of graduate credit. Coursework requirements are the same as listed above for the thesis-option M.A., but SOC 811 and thesis hours (SOC 899) are not required.

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.