Program Requirements

General Program Requirements:
Number of Credits Required Beyond the Baccalaureate: 52

Required Courses:

Social Theory Courses
SOC 8111Classical Social Theory3
SOC 9111Contemporary Sociological Theory3
Methods of Inquiry Courses
SOC 8011Logic of Inquiry3
SOC 8211Inferential and Multivariate Statistics4
SOC 8221Qualitative Methods3
SOC 9211Graduate Data Analysis3
SOC 9241Qualitative Data Analysis3
Electives 124
Non-Didactic Courses
SOC 9994Preliminary Examination Preparation3
SOC 9998Pre-Dissertation Research 21
SOC 9999Dissertation Research2
Total Credit Hours52

Culminating Events:
Pre-Candidacy Evaluation:
The Sociology Department evaluates doctoral students at the end of their second year using the grade point average (GPA) as a main criterion for advancement to doctoral-level coursework. A student with a GPA below 3.4 is ordinarily not allowed to continue in the doctoral program. However, the student can petition the Graduate Committee for re-consideration. After a petition is submitted, the Graduate Chair requires a written evaluation from each faculty member in the department with whom the student has taken a course. The student is permitted to continue in the Ph.D. program if at least five faculty members write in support of the petition. Those not allowed to continue can graduate with an M.A. upon completion of the requirements.

Preliminary Examination:
After completing the required coursework, doctoral students are expected to take a preliminary examination in the Spring term of their third year. The preliminary examination consists of two parts: the written area examination, and the proposal paper. Based on the written area exam grade and the evaluation of the proposal paper, the Graduate Chair assigns an overall “pass” or “fail” to each student for the preliminary examination. Students are notified of the results at the end of the term. Students need a “pass” on the written exam and an “acceptable” evaluation on the proposal paper to successfully complete the preliminary examination. Those who do well on one part but fail the other may retake the part they failed. Those who fail both the area exam and the proposal paper are allowed to retake both parts. Students who fail on their second attempt at either the written area exam or the proposal paper are not allowed to continue in the Ph.D. program but are eligible to receive a master’s degree.

Written Area Exam: Prior to taking the preliminary examination, students must complete two or more graduate-level courses related to that examination area offered by the faculty within the department. When doctoral students complete the required coursework, they must then take the preliminary examination in one of the broad examination areas identified by the Sociology Department as consistent with its mission and self-defined areas of strength: Gender and Sexuality, Immigration and Globalization, Medical Sociology, Race and Ethnicity, and Urban Sociology. However, students may request to take the exam in another area under the following conditions:

  1. the student has taken at least two graduate-level courses in the Sociology Department in the requested area, one of which may be an independent study course; 
  2. two faculty members are willing to sponsor the exam; and 
  3. the Graduate Chair approves.

No later than the second Monday in September prior to the Spring term when the preliminary examination will be taken, students must fill out the "Department Preliminary Examination Application" form and indicate the selected area for the exam. At the beginning of the Fall term, two faculty members from the prelim area are appointed by the Department Chair to form a Prelim Committee, which consists of a chair and one regular member. The committee members are charged with:

  1. updating the integrated prelim reading list for the area; 
  2. writing and submitting four prelim questions to the Graduate Chair by March 15; and 
  3. grading the exams.

The Department Chair also appoints a tiebreaker to read the exam if the committee does not agree on the evaluation.

The written area examination consists of four questions, and students must select and answer two of those questions. Students are given one week to complete the preliminary exam. Students receive the questions the second Monday in April, and the answers are due the third Monday in April. The Prelim Committee members have two weeks to evaluate the exam, assigning a grade of “Pass” or “Fail” to each question along with their comments. A total of at least three “Pass” grades from the two graders is needed for a student to pass the exam. When the graders both agree to fail a question (even if they pass the other question), the student has failed the preliminary exam. The tiebreaker should be used either when:

  1. one grader passes both answers and the other grader fails both answers; or 
  2. when one grader passes the first answer and fails the second, while the other grader fails the first answer and passes the second.

If the tiebreaker fails to break the tie (i.e., three fails and three passes), the student fails the exam. Grades with comments are submitted to the Graduate Chair.

If the student fails the written area exam, s/he may retake the exam. At the beginning of the following Fall term, three faculty members (including a tiebreaker) in the prelim area are appointed by the Department Chair to form a Prelim Committee. The committee submits four questions to the Graduate Chair by October 15. The student receives the questions the Monday of the week before Thanksgiving week and the exam is due on the Monday of Thanksgiving week. The committee has two weeks to grade the exam.

Proposal Paper: In the Spring term of the preliminary examination, students are also required to take a three-credit proposal seminar course (SOC 9994 Preliminary Examination Preparation). They must receive a passing grade on the written paper for the course in order to pass the preliminary examination.

The proposal paper is the main assignment of the proposal seminar. Every student selects a faculty member with expertise in her/his research area to serve as a proposal reader. The proposal reader meets with the student at least twice during the term to discuss the paper: once before Spring break, and once after Spring break. At the end of each meeting, the reader provides the student and the instructor of the proposal seminar course with a brief narrative of the strengths and weaknesses of the paper. The instructor may meet with the reader to discuss the student’s progress in the writing of the proposal paper. The week after Spring break, the instructor submits a report to the Graduate Chair with a brief description of the performance of each student. Any student who is underperforming is called to a meeting with the Graduate Chair in the presence of the instructor and the proposal reader to take corrective measures.

On the official last day of classes, students submit their proposal paper to the instructor and the reader. The paper should demonstrate mastery of the existing body of literature on the proposed topic and the ability to formulate important scholarly research problems, as well as the appropriate methods to investigate them. It should not exceed 20 pages and should have no fewer than 12 pages. The evaluation of the proposal paper focuses on the student’s potential for writing a passable dissertation. Evidence of such potential includes the ability to synthesize the relevant literature; conceptualize a researchable problem; and propose a feasible research design. The instructor and the reader have a week to grade the papers. Each must submit a detailed, descriptive evaluation of the paper to the Graduate Chair, indicating whether it is “acceptable” or “unacceptable.” If the instructor and the reader disagree on the evaluation of the paper, a third department member with expertise in the area is appointed by the Graduate Chair to provide a determining evaluation. The main goal of the paper evaluation is to assess the student’s ability to write a dissertation.

If the student fails the proposal paper, s/he may rewrite the paper. The Graduate Chair appoints a faculty mentor with expertise in the research topic to work with the student on the rewriting of the paper; the mentor also serves as a grader. The Graduate Chair appoints another faculty member to serve as a second grader. If a tie occurs between the two graders, the Graduate Chair finds a third grader to break the tie.

The rewritten paper is due the first Monday in December. The appointed faculty members evaluate the paper and report to the Graduate Chair in two weeks whether the paper is “acceptable” or “unacceptable.” Students are notified of the results by December 15.

Doctoral Advisory Committee:
Following the preliminary examination, the student selects the Chair of her/his Doctoral Advisory Committee. The remaining two or more members of the committee are selected by the student in consultation with the Chair. The majority of the committee members must be from the Sociology Department. Other members may include faculty from other departments within Temple University or from other universities; doctoral-level expert advisors from outside university settings may also be considered as members.

To establish the Doctoral Advisory Committee, the student must submit a "Sociology Department Doctoral Advisory Committee" form to the department's Graduate Coordinator. To include committee members who are not members of the Temple Graduate Faculty on a Doctoral Advisory Committee, the Chair must request approval by submitting the "Nomination for Service on Doctoral Committee" form, found in TUportal under the Tools tab within “University Forms,” and the proposed committee member’s current curriculum vitae to the Graduate School. If a change is made in the composition of the Doctoral Advisory Committee, the change must be approved by the Chair of the committee; if the change involves the Chair of the committee, the Graduate Chair should be informed beforehand and the original Chair of the committee must be notified. The change must also be noted on the original "Sociology Department Doctoral Advisory Committee" form and signed by both the Chair of the committee and the Graduate Chair.

The Doctoral Advisory Committee meets at least once a year to review the candidate's progress and offer advice to the candidate.

Dissertation Proposal:
The dissertation proposal is a brief statement of the dissertation research. It should contain a review of the literature; a statement of the research problem; and a comprehensive description of the research strategy to be employed.

The student distributes a proposal summary of five pages or less to all department faculty members at least two weeks prior to the oral defense of the proposal. One complete copy of the proposal should also be available in the office of the department's Graduate Coordinator. All department faculty and graduate students are invited to attend the presentation of the dissertation proposal. Normally, proposal defenses are held during the academic year. All members of the committee must be present at the proposal defense, but an alternate member may be requested with prior approval from the Graduate Chair.

The dissertation proposal is accepted only when members of the dissertation committee vote unanimously to accept it. An approved dissertation proposal along with the "Dissertation Proposal Transmittal for Elevation to Candidacy" form, found in TUportal under the Tools tab within “University Forms,” must be filed with the Graduate School. After defending the dissertation proposal, a student is formally advanced to Ph.D. candidacy.

If a change is made in the composition of the Doctoral Advisory Committee after the approval of the proposal, the change must be approved by the Chair of the committee and the Dean of the College. The change must be noted on the "Request for Change in Dissertation Committee" form, found in TUportal under the Tools tab within “University Forms,” and filed with the Graduate School prior to posting the final dissertation defense.

Dissertation Defense/Ph.D. Final Examination:
The dissertation is defended orally. Any discrepancy between the final version of the dissertation and the dissertation proposal should be explained and defended. One copy of the final dissertation should be made available in the office of the Sociology Department at least two weeks before the dissertation defense. An abstract of the dissertation, not exceeding ten pages, must be given to all faculty members ten days before the defense.

The Dissertation Examining Committee is formed to evaluate the quality of the dissertation and conduct the oral defense. The committee includes the Doctoral Advisory Committee and at least one outside examiner. If the outside examiner is not a member of the Temple Graduate Faculty, the Chair of the Doctoral Advisory Committee must request approval by submitting the "Nomination for Service on Doctoral Committee" form, found in TUportal under the Tools tab within “University Forms,” and the outside examiner’s current curriculum vitae to the Graduate School at least four weeks in advance of the scheduled defense. Approval must be received prior to posting the oral defense. The Chair of the Dissertation Examining Committee must be a member of the Graduate Faculty, but may not be the Chair of the candidate’s Doctoral Advisory Committee. This person, responsible for coordinating and conducting the defense, must be identified when the defense is posted with the Graduate School on the "Announcement of Dissertation Defense" form, found in TUportal under the Tools tab within “University Forms.”

All dissertation oral defense examinations are publicly announced by the Sociology Department in writing at least ten days in advance of the examination. The written announcement must be sent to all members of the Dissertation Examining Committee, all graduate faculty in the candidate's department, and the Graduate School. It must also be posted in the College. All dissertation examinations are open to the entire academic community.

Normally, the dissertation defense is held during the regular academic year. A dissertation defense passed after the Graduate School deadline in the Spring does not qualify the student for a May degree. A summer defense may be scheduled only if all members of the committee agree. The entire dissertation committee must attend the defense. If one or more committee members fail to attend the defense, the Departmental Chair cannot sign the form certifying the defense. All faculty members and students are invited to participate in the dissertation defense.

The dissertation committee must vote unanimously that the student has passed the Ph.D. Final Examination. Each member of the dissertation committee indicates her/his assessment of the examination and signs her/his name to the "Final Examination Report for Doctoral Candidates" form, found in TUportal under the Tools tab within “University Forms.” If the Chair of the Sociology Department agrees that the dissertation meets departmental standards, s/he signifies her/his approval by signing for the department as well on the "Final Examination Report for Doctoral Candidates" form. The completed form is submitted to the Dean's Office of the College of Liberal Arts.

Information regarding the required format of the dissertation is available in the Graduate School's Dissertation and Thesis Handbook, found at A processing fee must be paid to the Temple University Bursar as shown on the "Dissertation/Thesis Processing Fee" form, found in TUportal under the Tools tab within “University Forms.” Fees may also be required when filing the dissertation electronically, within 30 days of the dissertation defense, at The student should heed the instructions found on the "Final Checklist of Dissertation Materials," identified as Appendix M1 in the Graduate School's Dissertation and Thesis Handbook. Note that the signature page bearing original ink signatures constitutes the only item required to be submitted in hard copy to the Graduate School.

Students must apply to graduate, through the Sociology Department, by the deadline date announced in the graduate catalog each year. The deadline is usually three or four months before graduation. Applications may be obtained from the department's Graduate Coordinator or online. Upon completion of the doctoral program, the student is required to submit a bound copy of her/his dissertation to the Sociology Department, as well as a regular hard copy to the Chair of the Dissertation Examining Committee.