Students' programs of study are established in consultation with the director of graduate studies and vary according to their individual interests, capabilities, and prior training.
The course of study is oriented toward two goals. The first is competence in the foundations of sociological analysis, including sociological theory, research methods, and social statistics. The second is demonstrated potential for making significant contributions to the sociological literature, as evidenced by the satisfactory completion of major research papers, mastery of knowledge in specialized fields, and, finally, the dissertation.
The foundations of sociological analysis include (1) a knowledge of general sociological theory, including its basic concepts, their historical antecedents, and the logic of inquiry; (2) competence in research methodology, including computer applications, advanced statistics, theory and procedures, and qualitative methods; and (3) reading comprehension of one modern language besides English.
Students may establish competency in theory by either sustaining a departmental examination or, at their discretion, completing the work of the following seminars: 501 Classical Sociological Theory and 502 Contemporary Sociological Theory (or an approved substitute).
Students may choose to establish competence in methodology by either sustaining a departmental examination or, at their discretion, enrolling at the appropriate level in a sequence of one or more methodology seminars: 404 Social Statistics, 503 Techniques and Methods of Social Science, WWS 507 Quantitative Analysis, 504 Social Statistics, 550 Research Seminar in Empirical Investigation; and a seminar in qualitative methods.
Students may satisfy the foreign language requirement by successfully sustaining an examination administered by the department. While most graduate students satisfy the language requirement without additional course work or tutoring, they may take any of several special courses that are offered when there is sufficient demand.
Each student is expected to write two empirical papers exemplifying distinctive modes of sociological inquiry. The papers should be written in a form suitable for submission for publication and may deal with any fruitful topic within the discipline. One of the papers must be a quantitative study, normally written in conjunction with 550, Research Seminar in Empirical Investigation. The other may be quantitative or qualitative and is ordinarily prepared in conjunction with one of six departmental clusters (cultural sociology, economic sociology, demography, comparative regional sociology, inequality, and migration and development).
Year-long workshops, including 521, Religion and Culture Workshop, and 560, Research Seminar in Comparative Studies, combine training with a format for writing and presenting papers. Workshops or seminars in Demography, Social Differentiation and Inequality, Economic Sociology, and Migration and Development offer corresponding opportunities for the other clusters. Students are encouraged to participate in the cluster workshops throughout their graduate studies. The research of the participants is jointly supervised by the workshop leader and by other members of the faculty with special expertise in the area of the student's particular interests. Faculty-student collaboration in tutorials, projects, and publications may augment the workshop.
Students normally take the General Examination in the fall of their third year. The examination covers three fields identified by the student in consultation with a faculty committee and includes a written and oral component. Preparation for the examination normally occurs through participation in seminars, workshops, reading courses, and individual study.
In their dissertations, students are expected to demonstrate command of a major theoretical issue in sociology and control of the empirical and theoretical literature relevant to their research topic. They must show high-level competence in research procedures, including design, analysis, and evaluation. Normally, a thesis proposal is submitted to the department by the middle of the third year of study. This proposal contains a statement of the problem to be studied, an explanation of its theoretical relevance to sociology, a survey of pertinent literature, and a statement about the sources of data and methodological procedures to be employed. An oral examination is the final degree requirement.