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Ph.D. Degree Requirements

Earning a Ph.D. from the Department of Sociology at Vanderbilt requires demonstration of mastery of the following knowledge and skills:

  • Disciplinary knowledge
  • Application and presentation of disciplinary knowledge
  • Research design
  • Ability to conduct original independent research

Students will demonstrate their mastery through coursework, completion of a master’s thesis, two special area examinations, a qualifying examination, and completion of a dissertation. Below is a summary of the requirements; further details can be found on the Graduate Program Guide page.

 

Coursework Requirements

  • 72 total credit hours required for Ph.D.
  • Theoretical Foundations of Sociology
  • Second Year Research Practicum
  • Multivariate Analysis I
  • Multivariate Analysis II
  • Teaching Workshop
  • Dissertation Proposal Workshop
  • 6 hours of Methods Focused Electives
  • 9 hours of Theory Focused Electives
  • 18 additional hours of elective course work of any focus
  • Up to 21 credit hours of Pre-Dissertation (S8999) and Dissertation (S9999) research

Reseach Collaboratives

Research Collaboratives (RC1 and RC2) are official collaborations between the graduate student and a faculty member that take place in the student’s second and third years in the program.

RC1 starts at the beginning of the summer after the student’s first year and continues through the student’s second year in the program. The student collaborates on research with a faculty advisor/mentor. At the end of RC1, the student in collaboration with the faculty advisor must have a paper completed that will be submitted to a peer-review academic journal. This paper is a requirement for the master’s degree.

RC2 starts at the beginning of the summer after the student’s second year in the program and continues through the student’s third year. The student either collaborates on research with a faculty advisor/mentor or prepares a sole-authored paper with guidance from the faculty advisor. At the end of RC2, the student must have a paper completed for which they are lead author (if the paper is written in collaboration with the faculty advisor) or sole author, that will be submitted to a peer-review academic journal for publication.

Independent Research

The Independent Research (IR1 and IR2) requirements entail having a) a sole-authored paper under review at a peer-review academic journal by the end of the student’s fourth year, and b) another sole-authored paper under review at a peer-review academic journal by the end of their fifth year in the program.

Special Area Paper

To gain deep knowledge in the student’s areas of research and teaching expertise, the student is required to write a Special Area Paper (SAP). The paper enables the student to demonstrate mastery of two or more broad substantive areas. The SAP requires the student to read, organize, and critically assess key concepts, theoretical approaches, research methods, and empirical findings in the paper’s areas.

Qualifying Examination

After completion of the second Special Area Paper, the student prepares a dissertation proposal and orally defends it in front of their dissertation committee. The dissertation proposal is an opportunity for students to demonstrate the ability to conceptualize, design, and plan independent, systematic inquiry that will result in a significant contribution to knowledge.

Dissertation

The final requirement of the Ph.D. is successful oral defense of a dissertation in front of the students’ dissertation committee. The dissertation is where students demonstrate the ability to conduct and present original independent research.

Courses

SOC 6301 Theoretical Foundations of Sociology: The course gives students a foundation in the important classic and contemporary works of the discipline and introduces them to the intellectual history of sociology.

SOC 6310 Second Year Research Practicum: The course provides hands-on training in sociological research, including reviewing the literature, theorizing, methods of data gathering and analysis, and writing and revising the final research paper.

SOC 6311 Multivariate Analysis I and SOC 6312 Multivariate Analysis II: These courses provide students with a firm foundation in statistical analysis, with special attention to the general linear model and the use of computer-based statistical programs. Students will take these courses in the fall and spring semesters of their first year in the program.

SOC 7500 Dissertation Proposal Workshop: The course provides a space for brainstorming, receiving peer feedback, and revising under faculty supervision, a proposal for their dissertation research. Students will receive hands-on training on how to write a proposal that is animated by a clear research question, demonstrates a potential contribution to Sociological theory and empirical knowledge in specific Sociological sub-fields, and lays out the appropriate methods for conducting the research.

SOC 7600 Quantitative Methods Workshop: introduces students to specific quantitative research methods including, but not limited to: survey construction, event history analysis, categorical analysis, and time series analysis. This course will be offered at least every other year.

SOC 7700 Qualitative Methods Workshop: introduces students to specific qualitative research methods including, but not limited to: comparative historical methods, ethnographic methods, and cultural analysis. This course will be offered at least every other year.

SOC 8329-8359 Survey Seminars- Intellectual History and Theory Construction: These courses provide the intellectual history, foundational theories, and theory construction related to different substantive fields of study in the discipline of Sociology. These courses introduce students to different fields of study, while also giving them the tools to build and test theory that helps advance knowledge in these fields.

SOC 9361-9371 Special Topic Seminars- Research Methods: These courses provide deep focus on different research methods, with the goal of providing opportunities for students to develop both broad and specialized expertise in several methods.

SOC 9888-9889 Directed Studies Courses: tutorial relationships one or more students arrange with an individual faculty member; students may earn only up to 3 credits of directed study in a semester. Students must file a Request for Directed Studies with the Graduate School.

SOC 7400 Teaching Workshop: an introduction to all aspects of effective teaching and to the techniques of oral presentation. For those students who lack demonstrated proficiency in teaching, the Workshop is a prerequisite of teaching at Vanderbilt. This course is taken Pass/Fail and is offered every other year.