Feb 03, 2023  
2009-2011 Graduate Catalog 

Sociology (Post - M.A. Program) Ph.D.

This Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology program is designed for students who have completed a thesis and earned a master’s degree in sociology or a closely related discipline, with evidence of substantial expertise in sociology. This program trains students in advanced sociological concepts and applications, as well as advanced theoretical and methodological frameworks for conducting original research. In addition, students develop at least two advanced areas of specialization from among the department’s five core areas of specialization (1. Urban Studies; 2. Culture; 3. Inequalities; 4. Social Psychology, Symbolic Interactionism and Deviance; 5. Politics, Institutions and Urban). Sociology doctoral students also have the opportunity to participate in our pedagogy and postsecondary teacher training program. Graduates of this program are well prepared for academic research and teaching positions, as well as careers in applied and community sociology. Educational outcomes for our doctoral program include: development of expertise in both classical and contemporary sociological theories, mastery of both quantitative and qualitative research methods and data analysis, development of specialized expert knowledge in at least two substantive areas, professional socialization, participation in professional organizations, oral presentation skills, familiarity with the process of academic publication of original research, and cultivation of analytical research and writing skills which culminate in the ability to author an original doctoral dissertation of substantial depth and quality. Graduate-level course work in sociology is restricted to students with graduate standing or graduate provisional status in the department, or to those students who have obtained prior written consent from instructors of specific courses in which enrollment is sought and from the graduate coordinator. Please see the Sociology Graduate Student Handbook for up-to-date policies, processes and information.

Admission Requirements

The annual deadline for applications is January 31. We only admit new students in Fall semesters. Prospective students must simultaneously apply for admission to the Graduate College and the DOS. See the UNLV Graduate College website for forms and additional information about how to apply to the Graduate College. Then, please submit copies of everything that you sent in your Graduate College application, as well as the following information and documentation to the Department of Sociology, Attention:  Graduate Admissions Coordinator.

  1. A master’s degree in sociology, or an equivalent master’s degree, from an accredited institution in which you wrote and successfully defended a master’s thesis.
  2. Satisfactory scores that are less than five years old on the general Graduate Record Examination.
  3. At least three letters of recommendation, preferably from faculty members who know the your work, evaluating your ability to perform at the Ph.D.-level of study. These should include comments on the student’s academic performance, motivation, character, and promise for success in the Ph.D. program.
  4. A statement of purpose written by the applicant. Applicants are expected to explain your educational objectives and interests, as well as your professional goals.
  5. M.A.-level thesis or at least two original papers of substantial length and quality in an area of sociological inquiry solely written by the applicant.
  6. International students must take both the TOEFL and the Test of Written English and receive satisfactory scores on both.
  7. If you are interested in applying for a Graduate Assistantship, please be sure to indicate this in your written statement and submit the appropriate Graduate Assistantship Application form to the Graduate College (this form is available from the Graduate College).

Degree Requirements

1. Doctoral students must complete a minimum of 40 credit hours in courses designated for graduate study in sociology and a minimum of 12 Dissertation credits. Dissertation credits may only be taken after the student successfully defends their dissertation prospectus and submits required paperwork to the Graduate College. Students may not take more than six Dissertation credits per semester.


a. Ph.D. students must complete the three-semester sequence of core, required courses:

   , unless these courses were completed by the student at the M.A. level at UN

b. Students must complete one additional advanced 700-level Socio logy course   in social theory and one additional advanced 700-level Sociology course in statistics or research methods, or equivalents approved by student’s Doctoral Examination Committee Chair and the Graduate Coordinator.

c. Of the 40 required course credit hours, a maximum of six hours may be used as Flex Credits toward any combination of the following: Independent Study; Directed Reading; an approved 600-level Sociology course that is unavailable at the 700 level; and/or approved 700-level course in another department.

d. A maximum of six credits of Independent Study or Directed Readings are allowed at the Ph.D. level.

e. A maximum of six credit hours may be taken in an approved 700 level graduate course in a related discipline.

f. Doctoral students must identify two areas of specialization (Culture; Inequalities; Social Psychology, Symbolic Interactionism and Deviance; Politics & Institutions; or Community Studies) and complete a minimum of 3 credits of advanced study in each area.

g. A minimum of 34 course credits must be completed in 700-level Sociology courses.

h. Ph.D. candidates are strongly encouraged to enroll in SOC 709, Learning to Teach Sociology. Doctoral students who have completed their Theory and Methods comprehensive exams and SOC 709 may be eligible for autonomous teaching.

i. Doctoral students teaching their own autonomous courses must be simultaneously enrolled in:

 ; after one semester of taking SOC 710 for credit, graduate student instructors may audit the class.

j. Any grade below a B will not be accepted for graduate credit. A grade below a B will result in probation. If a student receives two grades below a B, in the same or different courses, they will be separated from the program.

k. A student may only be on academic probation twice during their graduate career in Sociology; a third probation will result in separation from the program.

l. No student shall be allowed more than two simultaneous grades of Incomplete, except in the case of documented and approved emergency or medical leave.

m. Please see the Sociology Graduate Program Handbook for additional up-to-d ate infor  mation about program rules, regulations, guidelines, processes and procedures.

2. In addition to a minimum of 40 hours of course work and 12 hours of Dissertation credits, a Doctoral student must successfully pass four comprehensive examinations: one in theory, one in methods and statistics, and two in their chosen areas of specialization.


a. Students should refer to the detailed guidelines governing the comprehensive exam process available in the Sociology Department.

b. The Theory and Methods comprehensive exams will each be offered once a semester; students may only take one of these exams per semester. Intention to take one of these exams must be given to the graduate coordinator and senior management assistant by the second week of the semester in which you intend to take one of these exams.

c. Students may not take either the Theory or the Methods comprehensive exam until they have completed all required course work in these areas.

d. The Theory and Methods exams are in-class exams. Additional guidelines for this process are available in the Sociology Graduate Program Handbook. Students are expected to prepare for the Theory and Methods comprehensive exams by reviewing class materials, meeting with their Doctoral Examination Committee, meeting with faculty sitting on the Theory and Methods committees, looking at copies of old exams, and doing systematic independent preparation, including coverage of the department’s theory and methods required reading lists.

e. Successful completion of both the Theory and Methods exams is required prior to submitting the two specialty area comprehensive exams.

f. Each of the two specialty area comprehensive exams are in one of the student’s areas of specialization. There are five acceptable formats: a literature review; an annotated bibliography; an in-class exam; a takehome exam; or preparation of a course, complete with lectures. These specialty area comprehensive exams should be designed in close consultation with the student’s Doctoral Examination Committee and reflect logical and substantive depth and breadth of knowledge.

g. There are four possible grades for the comprehensive exams: Pass with Distinction; Pass; Conditional Pass with Rewrites (to be completed within two weeks of notification); or Fail.

h. A student must retake a failed comprehensive exam within one year and successfully pass on the second attempt in order to remain in the program. A second failure in the same area will result in separation from the program. During the period of time between the initial Fail on a comprehensive exam and the re-take, the student may not take any other comprehensive exams.

i. All four comprehensive exams must be completed prior to the student’s Dissertation Prospectus defense and advancement to candidacy. 

3. Doctoral students are required to complete a minimum of 12 credits of Dissertation hours: (

 ), write an original dissertation of substantial quality and length on a sociological topic, and successfully defend this work in front of the student’s Doctoral Examination Committee.


a. Students must establish a Doctoral Examination Committee consisting of at least three Graduate Faculty members in Sociology and one Graduate College representative from another discipline.

b. An approved degree program form must be filed with the Sociology Graduate Coordinator and the Graduate College by the end of the student’s third semester in the program; this form must be filled out in consultation with the student’s Doctoral Examination Committee.

c. Students must work with their Doctoral Examination Committee to ensure quality research, analysis and writing of the comprehensive exams and dissertation.

d. Satisfactory performance on an oral defense of the dissertation prospectus to be held after the successful completion of all course work and the four comprehensive examination is required. The oral defense will cover the student’s dissertation proposal and any deficiencies on the comprehensive exams or in the student’s program of study.

e. Upon successful completion of the oral defense of the dissertation prospectus, the student may advance to candidacy and begin enrolling in dissertation credit.

f. Upon completion of the dissertation, a final oral defense will be held in front of the student’s Doctoral Examination Committee. Committee members must unanimously pass the student on her or his oral defense for the Ph.D. to be conferred.