Doctoral Curriculum

Requirements for students pursuing a doctoral degree normally include:

  • for students admitted at the pre-master's level, completion of the master's degree and thesis within four semesters
  • completion of remaining course requirements within five semesters of advancement to the Ph.D. level study
  • satisfaction of requirements pertaining to the two areas of specialization
  • a dissertation proposal and oral comprehensive examination
  • a final dissertation and oral defense thereof

Course Enrollment

All Ph.D. students are required to enroll in 9 credit hours of coursework per semester for the first two years of enrollment in the program.  During their first semester all students are required to take three graduate seminars, in addition to any GTA requirements. All new students must participate in the Proseminar to become acquainted with the department and faculty. After completing the oral comprehensive examination and defense of the dissertation proposal, students are required to enroll at least 6 credit hours each fall and spring until 18 post-comprehensive hours are completed or the student graduates, whichever comes first.  If the Ph.D. degree is not completed after 18 credit hours of post-comprehensive enrollment, students must continue to enroll each semester until all requirements for the degree have been met.

Course Requirements

Ph.D. students are required to complete 14 graduate seminars in Sociology, of which at least three must be graduate-level research methods courses including SOC 812, and at least three must be graduate level sociological theory courses. SOC 810, 811, and 995 are also required. A list of which courses satisfy the theory, methods, and substantive seminar requirements can be found in Appendix A of the Graduate Manual. For those who completed the thesis-option M.A. in the Department of Sociology at the University of Kansas, the graduate-level theory, methods, and sociology seminars taken while earning the M.A. count towards meeting these requirements. Students who do not complete Sociology 812 (Analytic Methods) at the Master's level are required to do so at the Ph.D. level.

After completing one semester in good standing in the sociology doctoral programs, students are eligible to apply for the dual-title Sociology-Gerontology Ph.D. program

Area Specialization Dossiers

Students will demonstrate their command of two areas of specialization in sociology and their preparation to undertake dissertation research by creating artifacts to be part of their Professional Portfolios. Two sections of the Professional Portfolio are designated as Area Specialization Dossiers (ASDs) and are devoted to materials that demonstrate mastery in the students' specialty areas.

Students will demonstrate their competency in their chosen areas by receiving a satisfactory grade (B or higher) in a minimum of two courses in each area and placing materials from those courses in their ASD. At least one of the two ASDs will include a Critical Review Essay (CRE) (see below). An ASD will be a part of the student’s Professional Portfolio. For more detailed information on ASD materials, formatting, and committee review, click here.

At least one ASD must include a Critical Review Essay that is no longer than 10,000 words (40 pages) in length, excluding the bibliography and cover page with committee members signatures. The CRE is a broad assessment of the area, starting with a conceptual mapping of the area that includes its foundational literature, theories, and relevant work produced in the past 10 years. This essay might also highlight the student’s specific interest in the area, especially pertaining to the dissertation. Students may refer to the Annual Review of Sociology for examples of the style and content of a critical review essay. Another example of the CRE can be found in the ASD of a graduate student in our department [on file with the Graduate Academic Advisor].

Oral Comprehensive Examination and Defense of Dissertation Proposal

After having satisfied the requirements pertaining to the second ASD, students must complete an oral comprehensive examination and defend a dissertation proposal. The comprehensive oral examination (which covers student's specialization areas) and the defense of the dissertation proposal take place within the same examination period.  The focus of the examination and defense will be on the feasibility and quality of the proposed research as well as the student's two areas of specialization.


Finally, students must present a dissertation that demonstrates the development, execution, and results of original research.  The doctoral dissertation is a coherent, logically organized, scholarly document.  Material previously published by the candidate may be incorporated in the dissertation. See the graduate catalog for a full description of the principles that underlie the dissertation. Instructions regarding the proper form of the dissertation are available from the Office of Graduate Studies. Completion of the dissertation is the final phase of a doctoral program and is followed by the final oral examination and defense of the dissertation. Upon satisfactory completion of the final oral examination and approval of the dissertation by the dissertation advisory committee, the student proceeds with final submission of the dissertation.

Prof. Joey Sprague and doctoral students Laurie Petty and Ilana Demantas

Graduate Student Kudos

PhD student Sam Kendrick has a new article out in Sexuality and Culture - way to go!

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!

Read More>>

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