Nov 30, 2023  
2012-2013 Graduate Catalog 

Sociology (Bachelor’s to Doctorate Program) Ph.D.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: College of Liberal Arts


This Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology program is designed for students holding a bachelor’s degree in sociology or a closely related discipline who have a strong record of academic success, are likely to be highly successful in graduate school, and who have a professional interest in, and commitment to, earning a doctorate 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 2 advanced areas of specialization from among the department’s 10 core areas of specialization: (1) Culture; (2) Deviance & Criminology; (3) Environment & Health; (4) Family, Aging & the Life Course; (5) Gender & Sexuality; (6) Politics & Social Movements; (7) Race & Ethnic Studies; (8) Social Psychology & Theory; (9) Urban & Community Studies; and (10) Population & Demography Studies. 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 refer to the Sociology Graduate Student Handbook for additional updated information, policies and procedures.

The deadline for application is December 1. The application process takes place via the Apply Yourself system, and all required documents must be uploaded on that system.

Admissions Requirements


  1. A bachelor’s degree in sociology from an accredited institution.

  2. Satisfactory scores that are less than 5 years old on the general Graduate Record Examination.

  3. At least 3 letters of recommendation, preferably from faculty members who know the student’s work, evaluating the student’s 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, that evidences all of the following: writing skills, professionalism, educational and professional/career objectives, specific areas of interest in sociology generally, and in the UNLV Department of Sociology specifically.

  5.  Two original writing samples of substantial length and quality that indicate student’s writing and analytical skills, as well as sociological knowledge.

  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. Bachelor’s to Doctoral students must complete a minimum of 60 credit hours in courses designated for graduate study in sociology as well as a minimum of 12 dissertation credits, for a total of at least 72 credits. Dissertation credits may only be taken after the student successfully defends his/her dissertation prospectus and submits required paperwork to the Graduate College. Students may not take more than 6 Dissertation credits per semester.

2. Students must complete the sequence of core, required courses:
SOC 701 - Logic of Social Inquiry 

SOC 704 - Advanced Analytical Techniques 
SOC 705 - Qualitative Methods 
SOC 707 - Proseminar I 
SOC 708 - Proseminar II 
SOC 723 - Classical Sociological Theory 
SOC 724 - Issues in Contemporary Sociological Theory 

3. Students declaring Urban & Community Studies or Demography & Population Studies as their Areas of Specialization must complete SOC 756  and 757  or 717 . These must be successfully completed before or during the semester when students take the specialty area comprehensive exams.

4. Of the 60 required course credit hours, a maximum of 6 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 an approved 700 level course in a related discipline.

5. Doctoral students must identify 2 areas of specialization among the department’s 10 core areas in specialization: (1) Culture; (2) Deviance & Criminology; (3) Environment & Health; (4) Family, Aging & the Life Course; (5) Gender & Sexuality; (6) Politics & Social Movements; (7) Race & Ethnic Studies; (8) Social Psychology & Theory; (9) Urban & Community Studies; and (10) Demography & Population Studies, and complete a minimum of 6 credits of study in each area.

6. Bachelor’s to Doctorate students must complete 3 credits of Professional Paper before defending their Professional Paper and submitting it to a reputable sociology journal for peer review. Students will establish an Examination Committee, hold a professional paper proposal meeting, author and defend an original piece of research or theory which is then signed-off on by committee members and submitted for peer-review to a reputable sociology journal. The paper need not be accepted for publication for the student to continue matriculating in the program, but the manuscript must make a significant scholarly contribution and be of a high enough quality to merit peer review.

  1. Students must orally present and defend their completed professional paper to her or his Examination Committee, and receive majority approval.
  2. After a successful defense of their professional paper, students must receive signatures of support from their Committee Chair and a majority of other Committee members prior to submitting their article manuscript to an approved peer-review sociology journal.
  3. Students may complete this stage of the program only after successfully completing all 21 core required courses, as well as a minimum of 6 credits of 700-level Sociology electives.
  4. Students may not take any comprehensive exams or complete more than 40 course credits before successfully completing this step in the program.
  5. Students who do not complete this requirement in a timely manner (before completing 40 credits) or successfully will be placed on probation.
  6. After successful completion of all required courses (701, 702, 704, 705, 707, 708, 723, 724), a minimum of 36 total course credits, 3 credits of thesis or professional paper, and this professional paper process (proposal, research, writing, oral defense and journal submission), students may leave the Ph.D. program track with a Masters degree. See #16 below for additional information.

7. A minimum of 54 course credits must be completed in 700-level Sociology courses.

8. A maximum of 6 credit hours may be taken in approved 700 level graduate courses in a related discipline.

9. Students are strongly encouraged to enroll in SOC 709 , Learning to Teach Sociology. Doctoral students who have completed their comprehensive exams and SOC 709  may be eligible for autonomous teaching.

10. Doctoral students teaching their own autonomous courses must be simultaneously enrolled in SOC 710  - Teaching Practicum, Teaching Practicum; after one semester of taking SOC 710  for credit, graduate student instructors may audit the class.

11. 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, s/he will be separated from the program.

12. 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.

13. No student shall be allowed more than 2 simultaneous grades of Incomplete, except in the case of documented and approved emergency or medical leave.

14. In addition to a minimum of 60 hours of course work and 12 hours of Dissertation credits, and successful completion of the professional paper process as described above, a Doctoral student must successfully pass 2 comprehensive examinations in their chosen areas of specialization. Students should refer to the detailed guidelines governing the comprehensive exam process in the Graduate Programs Handbook (see Appendix 1).

  1. The Area of Specialization comprehensive exams will be offered once a semester; students may only take 1 of these exams per semester. Intention to take a comprehensive exam must be given to the graduate coordinator and senior management assistant by the second week of the semester in which students intend to take the exam.
  2. Students may not take a comprehensive exam until they have completed all required course work in these areas.
  3. These specialty area comprehensive exams should reflect logical and substantive depth and breadth of knowledge of these areas. Students are expected to prepare for the comprehensive exams by reviewing class materials, meeting with their Doctoral Examination Committee, meeting with faculty sitting on the Areas of Specialization committees, looking at copies of old exams, and doing systematic independent preparation.
  4. There are 4 possible grades for the comprehensive exams: Pass with Distinction; Pass; Conditional Pass with Rewrites (to be completed within two weeks of notification); or Fail.
  5. A student must retake a failed comprehensive exam within 1 semester 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.
  6. Both comprehensive exams must be completed prior to the student’s Dissertation Prospectus defense and advancement to candidacy.

15. Doctoral students are required to complete a minimum of 12 credits of Dissertation hours: SOC 799 - Dissertation , 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Students must work with their Doctoral Examination Committee to ensure quality research, analysis and writing of the comprehensive exams and dissertation.
  4. 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. Upon successful completion of the oral defense of the dissertation prospectus, the student may advance to candidacy and enroll in dissertation credits.
  5. Upon completion of the dissertation, a final oral defense will be held in front of the student’s Doctoral Examination Committee.
  6. Committee members must unanimously pass the student on her or his oral defense for the Ph.D. to be conferred.

16. Bachelor’s to Doctorate students who, for personal, professional or academic reasons, decide not to continue on for a Ph.D. may be eligible for an optional exit plan with a Masters degree, contingent upon recommendation of approval by the student’s Doctoral Examination Committee, the DOS Graduate Committee & Graduate Coordinator(s), and the DOS Chair.

  1. Students in good standing in the graduate program, who have completed more than 40 credits and have successfully authored and defended a professional paper that has been submitted for peer-review to a sociology journal may simply apply to receive their MA degree.
  2. Students who are not in good academic standing (i.e. are on probation, have failed one or more comprehensive exams, etc.) may petition their Doctoral Examination Committee, the Graduate Coordinator and the DOS Chair to receive an MA degree or be transferred to the MA program. These requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis taking into consideration whether or not the student is being separated from the doctoral program (and if so, under what circumstances), the student’s progress and stage in the program, and whether the student has completed, or is believed to be able to complete, all requirements for the MA degree.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: College of Liberal Arts