PhD Degree Requirements

PhD Overview

PhD students receive training in qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, sociological theory, and major substantive fields within sociology such as gender, sexuality, environment, race and ethnicity, culture, social networks, labor, immigration, and political economy. The department places a strong emphasis on research, and many students will find opportunities to participate in projects conducted by faculty members.

MA or MS and PhD in Sociology

Students are required to complete 55 credit hours of graduate-level work for the master’s degree, and an additional 20 credits, plus 18 dissertation credits, for the PhD. Students who have earned a master’s degree from another program must still complete the master’s paper requirement from the department as one of the steps toward earning the PhD. 

Students having completed graduate-level work in sociology prior to admission to the department may transfer credits to fulfill department requirements if a formal request is submitted to and approved by the Curriculum Committee. Most graduate courses are five (5) credit hours. All required courses must be taken on a graded basis. Students who are Graduate Employees (almost all students their first few years) usually take two or three (2-3)courses per term. The minimum number of credits required for students to enroll in is nine (9) if they have a contract, and three (3) if they do not.

Required Courses

Sociology 607 (Introduction to Graduate Sociology) All incoming students must take this seminar for three (3) credits. The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the department and the university community and should be taken their first term.


  • Sociology 512 and 513 (Sociological Research Methods): These courses cover quantitative methods, including hypothesis testing, confidence intervals, multiple regression, regression methods with dichotomous and limited dependent variables, and an overview of other advanced quantitative methods. 
  • Sociology 612 (Research Design): This course provides hands-on coverage of research design issues, including problem/question formulation, literature review, hypothesis construction, sampling decisions, choice of method for data collection, and strategies for data analysis. The final assignment is a comprehensive proposal for research suitable for the master’s paper requirement. To assist their progress toward the proposal, students work through exercises resulting in draft components of the proposal. Enrollment is normally restricted to sociology graduate students. 
  • Two (2) advanced methods courses (Sociology 613), one (1) of which can be taken post-master’s. Advanced methods classes taken must include two (2) separate methods, as determined by the judgment of the student’s advisor.


  • One (1) advanced theory course (Sociology 615): These courses focus on specialized traditions of social theory or the works of a major theorist. A second advanced theory course can be substituted for one of the substantive graduate seminars (see G below), as long as the content differs substantially from the first 615 course, as determined by the student’s advisor. The second course may be taken post-master’s. 
  • Sociology 617 and Sociology 618 (Sociological Theory I and II): These courses cover major 19th, 20th, and 21st century social theorists, especially Marx, Weber, and Durkheim, and major themes in contemporary sociological theory.

Substantive Seminars

Students must take four (4) substantive graduate seminars or three (3) substantive seminars and a second advanced theory course. In either case, at least two (2)substantive seminars must be taken pre-master’s. 

The substantive seminars are: 

  • Sociology 616 (Environment and Resources)
  • Sociology 644 (Race and Ethnicity)
  • Sociology 646 (Work and Organizations)
  • Sociology 656 (Issues in the Sociology of Gender)
  • Sociology 664 (Political and Economic Sociology)

Any of the above seminars may be taken more than once, so long as the class content differs substantially each time. Both syllabi must be submitted to the Curriculum Committee to confirm the difference.

Master’s Paper and Electives

To meet the master’s requirement, students take two (2) classes (10 credits) of electives in sociology at the 500- or 600-level. Only one (1) independent study course (SOC 601 - Research or SOC 605 - Reading), taken for a grade, can  be used to meet elective requirements.

Students register for five (5) credits of SOC 608 - Master’s Paper in the term they complete their master’s paper.

Master’s Paper

  • All students must complete a master’s paper. Students should be able to complete the course requirements for a master’s degree and the master’s paper requirement in their first six (6) terms of enrollment. Students can be granted an extension to a seventh term without consequence if they make a formal request in writing before the end of their sixth term providing a brief explanation of the reason the extension is required, and so long as this request is approved by both committee members and the director of graduate studies. Students who have not completed the requirements within the first six (6) terms will not be in good standing and will not be assured of a GE position until they complete the requirements (they may receive one if a position is available). Students who do not complete the requirements by the end of nine (9) quarters of enrollment will need to appeal for an extension. This extension will only be granted if both committee members, the director of graduate studies, and the department head agree that it is warranted. 
  • The paper is to report original empirical research with an appropriate theoretical context. The paper should be of a style, length, and content appropriate for submission to a peer-reviewed journal in the social sciences. The standard of assessment is whether the paper is worthy of submission to the selected journal. 
  • The student may base the paper on research conducted for an academic degree at another institution or in another program at the University of Oregon. With the approval of the committee, the student may also submit for this requirement an article already published or accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed social science journal. A student who has completed an empirically based master’s thesis that is sociological in content in another program may revise it so that it fits with the department’s expectations and format and submit it for the master’s paper requirement. 
  • For the master’s paper, the student will need to select a committee of two faculty members, one of whom is the chair. The thesis committee does not require an outside member or an oral defense. The Master’s Paper requirement is met when both committee members approve the paper.

Comprehensive Examination 

The Comprehensive Examination (c-exam) will determine the degree to which a student has gained a mastery over the substantive knowledge, theory and methodology of one area of sociological inquiry distinct from the area to which the master’s paper contributes as determined by the c-exam committee. 

More Info

  • The area of the examination is selected by the student in consultation with a special committee consisting of at least three (3) faculty members, two (2) of whom must be sociology faculty; the chair of the committee must also be a sociology faculty member. The committee will be responsible for preparing and evaluating the examination. The examination is a three-day (3-day) written examination of the student’s mastery of a reading list approved by the committee. Although the student may suggest a list of questions for the examination, the committee decides on the questions. The committee poses the questions to the student at the start of the exam, and the student has three (3) days to submit their answers.
  • In defining the areas of examination, the committee has the responsibility of guarding against both narrow specialization and unrealistically broad aspirations on the part of the student. The current list of sections within the American Sociological Association should serve as models for balancing breadth and depth.
  • Students who fail to pass an examination on the first attempt will be permitted to take the examination a second time. Students failing an examination twice will be terminated from the program. 
  • To remain in good standing, a requirement for assurance of departmental funding, students must complete the c-exam by the end of their ninth term of enrollment (excluding summers) in the department based on the regular academic calendar.
  • Students should negotiate in advance with the c-exam committee for when they can commit to completing the evaluation. The committee should be given at least three (3) weeks to complete its evaluation.
  • Students are advanced to candidacy after completing coursework and passing the c-exam. Students will be promoted to GE 3 the term after advancement.  

Doctoral Dissertation 

Once the c-exam and coursework are complete, students are advanced to candidacy and begin work on their dissertation proposal.

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  • The doctoral dissertation committee will be composed of at least three (3) sociology faculty members and an additional outside member of the UO graduate faculty not affiliated with the Department of Sociology who serves as a representative of the Dean of the Graduate School. This committee should be proposed to the Dean of the Graduate School by the fall of the student’s fifth year of enrollment and no later than six (6) months before the date of completion of the Ph.D. degree.
  • The dissertation committee will be formed at the student’s initiative after passing the Comprehensive Examination (c-exam). All PhD candidates must prepare a dissertation proposal and formally defend it before their committee no later than the fall of their fifth year of enrollment, or they will not be in good academic standing, potentially making them ineligible for departmental funding. Students are encouraged to defend before the end of their fourth year in the program.
  • The student should refer to the Style Manual for Theses and Dissertations published by the graduate school. This manual includes regulations for the dissertation and a checklist of timing for completion of certain administrative procedures.
  • Students are required to enroll in at least three (3) credits of SOC 603 both the term before they defend AND the term they defend.

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Graduate Program Director

Kari Marie Norgaard
Phone number: 541-346-8615
Office hours: By appointment

Graduate Coordinators

Sharon Kaplan

Rachel Claric