Ph.D. in Sociology

The Ph.D. in Sociology is a six-year program consisting of three years for course work, one year for qualifying exams and two years for research and finishing the dissertation.

Students entering the Ph.D. program in Sociology are expected to complete six semesters of the program's Approaches to Social Research pro-seminar (SOC 300a), as well as fifteen additional courses. Students are urged to take at least one course in sociological theory and one in methods.

At least six of the fifteen courses must be formal graduate seminars offered by the department. Four additional courses must be completed within the department, either as graduate seminars, independent readings, advanced undergraduate/graduate seminars or upper-division courses. The five remaining courses can be taken as the student chooses, including graduate courses at other Boston-area universities, in consultation with her or his advisor.

The initial program of study is arranged in consultation with the graduate student's advisor. Consideration will be given to graduate work done elsewhere, but formal transfer credit is assigned only after the successful completion of the first year of study.

The department's equivalent of the comprehensive exam is a qualifying process in which each doctoral student is required to select and develop three areas of expertise. For each area, the student invites a sociology faculty member to serve on his or her Qualifying Portfolio and Defense (QPD) Committee. The purpose of the QPD committee is to guide students toward demonstrated competence in three different areas in sociology, as defined by the American Sociological Association, and to certify student competence in those areas.

While working on the qualifying portfolio, each student assembles a dossier containing documentary evidence of scholarly work in the three areas of specialization. In addition to papers written, this may include bibliographies, course outlines, research proposals, etc. Upon completion of this work, the QPD Committee will conduct an oral qualifying exam.

After the accreditation phase, the student prepares a dissertation prospectus and begins work on the dissertation. The requirements for the completion of the dissertation phase are: approval of the prospectus, approval of the dissertation and successful oral defense of the dissertation.

Teaching Requirement

The department supports a culture where teaching is highly valued. It is required that all Ph.D. students participate in undergraduate teaching. This typically means acting as a teaching fellow in one course per term over the course of six semesters and using this as an opportunity to develop the craft of teaching in collaboration with individual professors and through teaching workshops within the department and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Students also act as a research fellow for a seventh semester during their first four years in the program.

Language Requirement

There is no foreign language requirement for the Ph.D. in sociology.


Joint Ph.D. in Social Policy and Sociology

Students can apply to the joint program leading to the Ph.D. in Social Policy and Sociology only after having completed at least one year of graduate study at The Heller School for Social Policy and Management or in the Department of Sociology's Ph.D. program. The joint program combines nine courses in sociology (at least one of which must be in sociology theory) with nine Heller School courses (including research methods). The deadline for applications is April 1.

Students complete the sociology qualifying process in two areas of specialization (instead of the usual three), and after completing a comprehensive paper that is a required part of the Heller School Ph.D. curriculum. The dissertation committee has two faculty members from the Department of Sociology, two faculty members from the Heller School and one outside reader.


Joint Ph.D. in NEJS and Sociology

To receive the joint Ph.D. in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies (NEJS) and Sociology, students must complete a total of 21 courses, at least nine of which are offered by the Department of Sociology (including at least one theory course and one quantitative methods course) and at least nine of which must be taken within the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies.

Along with completing the qualifying process in two areas of specialization (instead of the usual three), students are required to pass a two-part written comprehensive examination in Jewish cultural literacy in the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, and a follow-up oral examination.

The language requirement consists of establishing competence in Hebrew and one modern language (normally French or German). The dissertation committee has two faculty members from the Department of Sociology, two from NEJS, plus one outside member.


Master of Arts in Sociology

The MA program in Sociology at Brandeis enables students to gain a basic foundation in sociology as a discipline.  Students also have the option of exploring ways to apply sociological knowledge to real world problems in health, gender, sexuality, social movements, politics and cultural issues. Students work with faculty in the Sociology Department and may take classes in other Brandeis programs, including Health, Science, Society and Policy; Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; International and Global Studies; Social Justice and Social Policy; Peace, Conflict and Coexistence; Environmental Studies; and Journalism.

The degree is designed for completion in either two or three semesters, with the degree awarded at the next official university degree conferral after completion of residence and requirements. Each degree candidate will devise a specialized program with a faculty advisor. The student's program must be approved by the Graduate Committee at the beginning of each semester of residence, and will include the completion of eight semester courses, including the program's MA pro-seminar, one course in social theory,  one course in research methods, and a capstone preparation course.  Students’ capstone work will consist of either a final research paper or project, or an exam.

Joint M.A. in Sociology and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

The joint master's degree in Sociology and Women's. Gender, and Sexuality Studies is designed to be completed in 2 to 4 semesters. Requirements include the completion of seven courses to be distributed as follows: a designated foundational course in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, one course in feminist research methodologies (WMGS 198a or The Feminist Inquiry course offered through the Graduate Consortium in Women's and Gender Studies or an alternative), one graduate Sociology course cross-listed with Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, one graduate course outside Sociology that is listed as an elective with Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, plus three other graduate Sociology courses (including one theory course, and one course outside the area of gender).

Also required is the submission of a research paper of professional quality and length (normally 25-40 pages) on a topic related to the joint degree. The paper will be read by two faculty members, at least one of whom is a member of the Department of Sociology and at least one of whom is a member of the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies core or affiliate faculty.