Our graduate program has 2 levels: MA and PhD. All students will earn a Master’s degree (with thesis) in Sociology either from Ohio State or from a previous university en route to a PhD. At the time of admission, the admissions committee will determine at what level students who have already earned a Master’s degree will be admitted. Applicants without a Master’s degree will start at the MA level of our program.
The purpose of the M.A. level is to train students in a range of methods and theories used in the discipline of sociology and to enable them to conduct research on the way to earning a PhD. The Department offers only the thesis option (Option A in the Graduate School literature). To earn an M.A. degree, the candidate must successfully complete all departmental and Graduate School requirements.
Our graduate courses generally assume undergraduate background in sociological theory, research methods, and statistics. The admissions committee may suggest or require that entering students take additional undergraduate background courses to enhance their preparation if these courses or their equivalents are lacking in the student's undergraduate training. Background courses do not count toward the 10 required MA level graduate courses.
Graduate Course Requirements
All entering students are required to take Sociology 6800 (the Proseminar) and to attend seminars and symposia organized by the department during their first year of enrollment. In addition to the proseminar, MA level students must complete a minimum of 10 graduate courses in Sociology. These may not include Sociology 7193 (Individual Studies) or Sociology 6999 (Thesis). One course from outside the department can be counted for the MA.
Students entering at the MA level who would like to transfer credits for courses they took at another university while they were a graduate student should consult with the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS). We will accept only transfer credits for courses that the DGS, in consultation with knowledgeable faculty, deems comparable to the courses required by department. Students are not permitted to petition for transfer credits for courses they took as undergraduates, even if the courses were graduate level courses. This is a graduate school rule.
Course requirements include five basic graduate courses in theory, quantitative methods, qualitative methods, and research design. Students are strongly encouraged to complete at least four of these during their first year, especially the theory and methodology courses, and complete the remaining core classes during their second year.
Students admitted at the M.A. level must complete a Master's thesis and successfully pass a one-hour oral examination no later than the beginning of their third year in the program. The one-hour oral examination evaluates the thesis and the student's competence in the discipline. The examination committee consists of three graduate faculty: the student's advisor who chairs the committee and the examination and two members selected by the student in consultation with the advisor.
The PhD Level
Once a student has successfully completed the MA level of our program and been recommended for progression on to the PhD level by his/her MA committee, the student must successfully complete the following departmental requirements and also meet all Graduate School requirements. Students who enter the program with a Master’s Degree in Sociology from another program will likely be admitted directly to the PhD level.
PhD level courses assume that students have had prior graduate background equivalent to our core Master's course requirements. The advisor or the Graduate Studies Committee may require background courses if students lack these courses or their equivalents or if evidence suggests the student is not fully prepared for Ph.D. course work. These may include any of the core courses required as part of the department's Master's course work.
Ph.D. level students who have never taken Sociology 6800 (the Proseminar) must enroll in this course during the first semester of the Ph.D. level. All new entrants to the Ph.D. level (whether they received a master’s degree from Ohio State or from another university) must take Sociology 8801 offered in Spring Semester of their first year at the Ph.D. level.
PhD level Course Requirements
Beyond the 10 courses required at the M.A. level (or the course work required for a Master’s degree in Sociology with a thesis earned elsewhere), students at the Ph.D. level are required to complete a minimum of 6 additional courses.
To be admitted to Ph.D. candidacy (the final phase of a PhD program), students must pass the candidacy examination, no later than spring of their 4th year. Students are eligible to take this examination after successfully completing all PhD level courses and all Graduate School residence and credit hours requirements. The exam consists of a written and an oral portion. Both portions must be completed within one semester. The oral exam must be completed within one month of the written exam. The examination committee will evaluate the written and oral portions of the exam together; students must pass both portions.
Students are required to submit a written proposal for the dissertation research to their dissertation committee so that the committee can review this proposal and offer valuable feedback. The length and format of the written proposal is to be determined by the dissertation advisor. Once the advisor deems the proposal ready, the full committee should meet with the student in a one-hour meeting to offer their feedback. Ideally, the dissertation proposal should be defended no later than the end of the fifth year for students admitted to the MA level or end of the fourth year for students directly admitted to the PhD level.
The final step in earning a PhD is the defense of the dissertation. Students must successfully pass a 2 hour oral exam which evaluates the dissertation and competence in the discipline. Only the examination committee (the dissertation committee plus a Graduate School representative) are to be present for discussion of the student's performance and the decision about the outcome.