The KU Ph.D. program admits students with either bachelor's or master's degrees. Qualifying for a Ph.D. from the Department of Sociology at the University of Kansas entails completing a sequence of steps. Students must complete required coursework, prepare a Professional Portfolio, write and successfully defend a master's thesis, complete examination requirements in two areas of specialization, draft and successfully defend a dissertation proposal, and successfully complete a doctoral dissertation.


The Department

Our Ph.D. program is a vibrant intellectual community of 20-plus “core” faculty and affiliated sociologists on the Lawrence and medical campus  and 45-plus graduate students. We admit graduate students with either bachelor's or master's degrees. Our faculty members are nationally and internationally recognized scholars with impressive records of research, publication, teaching, and grant-funded study. Founded in 1890, we are the oldest sociology program in the United States, and, as such, we have a long and distinguished history of rigorous training in both qualitative and quantitative study.

We subscribe to an apprenticeship philosophy of graduate education in which faculty and students treat education as a joint enterprise. The department is noted for the intense exchange of ideas among its graduate students, a strong culture of student mentoring and support, and faculty-student collaboration. Graduate students also play an active role in departmental affairs; they serve on most departmental committees, participate in the Sociology Graduate Student Association (SGSA), and edit a research journal, Social Thought and Research (STAR). The majority of graduate students are funded as graduate teaching assistants, and receive continuous training and support in a teaching seminar. Others are supported as graduate research assistants on faculty research projects.A few advanced graduate students have taught in other departments and at nearby colleges and universities. Professional socialization is an important component of our program: Our students are encouraged to participate at professional meetings (e.g., Midwest Sociological SocietyAmerican Sociological Association, Sociologists for Women in Society) and submit their work (especially their master's thesis) for publication. Graduate students also host the annual Blackmar Lecture Series, inviting new sociology professionals to a public lecture at KU.  

Our major sociology specialties and the “core” faculty in these  areas include the following:

Students are also encouraged to take courses from and work with the number of affiliated sociologists who have appointments in other units on the Lawrence and medical center campuses.

Professional Portfolio

From their first semester in the graduate program, students will prepare a Professional Portfolio of their graduate work. The Professional Portfolio should be seen as an on-going systematic collection of selected work that can demonstrate achievement and development. It is frequently expanded, revised, and updated. For example, an incorporated seminar paper that is later revised should be updated in the Portfolio. Likewise, Portfolio Statements should be reconsidered and re-written in light of continued study and intellectual development. The Portfolio should be a PDF document, so that it may be easily accessible to faculty for evaluation.  A sample table of contents may be viewed here.

Doctoral Degree Time Limits

​All course requirements for the Ph.D. must be completed within 5 semesters of first enrollment in the program at the Ph.D. level. Additional departmental deadlines are outlined in the Graduate Manual. The department's recommended time to complete the PhD. is 7 years for students completing both the M.A. and Ph.D. or 5 years for students who enter the program at the post-M.A. leve.

Graduate Student Kudos

Congrats to PhD student Matt Erickson - his article with Dr. Kim is out in Social Forces!

Recent PhD graduate Danny Alvord will start a Visiting Assistant Professor position at Bucknell University this August!

Spring 2021 PhD graduate Joelle Spotswood is the recipient of KU's 2021 Argersinger Dissertation Award!

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