Program Requirements

General Requirements

MA: 10 courses, 6 in sociology

PhD: 20 courses, 12 in sociology

Grading of courses: 16 courses must receive a grade of “B” or better. Up to 4 independent study courses may be taken on a pass-fail basis.

Transfer of credit: up to 8 graduate course units may be transferred from other institutions after 1 year at Penn, upon approval of the Graduate Chair and the Dean. At least 12 courses must be completed at Penn, 10 of these in sociology.

Year-By-Year Guidelines

Year 1

1. SOCI 602, Classical Sociological Theory, and SOCI 601, Contemporary Sociological Theory, or another course in contemporary theory (note: Classical Sociological Theory must be taken in year 1, but the contemporary theory requirement may be deferred until year 2 if there are reasonable academic grounds for the deferral).

2. SOCI 555-556, Proseminar (both semesters).

3. SOCI 536, Statistics (with prerequisite SOCI 535, which may be satisfied based on past coursework at discretion of the instructor).

4. Sociology 604, Research Methods in Sociology.

5. Elective(s).

6. Qualifying exam given at end of second semester, based on reading lists and graded by instructors in SOCI 555-556 and 602.
During the first year, students are assigned preliminary advisers. This advising system has been set up to help students to get to know the faculty as well as to provide assistance in making the most of the graduate program. (Periodically, students will alter their advising committee.)

Year 2

1. Sociology 603, Research Workshop for Second Year Paper.

2. Completion of Second Year Paper (Equivalent to M.A. thesis; a publishable paper), satisfactorily completed in time for faculty evaluations to be available for the May faculty meeting.

In the second year, students take electives and the Master's Seminar (603) as the context for writing the Second Year Paper. This paper is advised by a committee of three faculty members, including two standing faculty in sociology, and must be completed satisfactorily for formal entry into the Ph.D. program. The committee chair must be a member of the standing faculty in sociology.
To maintain good standing, the Second Year Paper requirement must be completed to committee satisfaction in time for faculty evaluations of the papers to be available at the May faculty meeting.

Year 3

1. Sociology 620, Dissertation Workshop [to develop dissertation proposal]

2. Completion of GAS’s 20 course CU requirement

3. Completion of one Comprehensive Exam in a specialty area

During the third year, students begin to work on their comprehensive exams, as well as their dissertation proposals. The required dissertation workshop serves as a context for working on comprehensive exams and dissertation proposals. Advanced students present their work in progress, and many issues related to the transition from course-taking student to independent scholar are addressed.

Year 4

1. Completion of the second Comprehensive Exam in a specialty area by the end of fall semester

2. Dissertation Proposal and formal Proposal Hearing should be completed by the end of the first semester and must be completed by the end of the second semester.

In the fourth year and beyond, students are typically working on their dissertations, and finishing up whatever requirements remain.

Completion of Degree

1. Completion of dissertation.

2. Successful defense of dissertation before the PhD committee.

3. Public presentation of the dissertation research, open to the university community. This presentation will take the form of a public defense, a practice job talk, or a seminar based on the dissertation. 

Some students may need to take courses at different times, depending on course offerings and the students’ circumstances.