MA Program

Graduate School Bulletin: Sociology                          
Sociology Graduate Courses

The UWM Department of Sociology provides graduate instruction to students with a BA in sociology or closely related field, and to students who have already received a terminal MA in sociology at another institution. Our flexible program provides both terminal MA and PhD degrees. Students interested in applied research careers can receive the training they require from our terminal MA program. Students interested in teaching and researching at the university level will be well-prepared by our PhD program to do so.

The UWM Department of Sociology has a strong and very diverse faculty, able to provide mentoring to a diverse group of graduate students. Our graduate programs employ a cohort structure with an initial required course sequence that builds student solidarity and professional networks while instilling a solid foundation in sociological theory, research, and analytic skills.

The MA program was established in 1964 and has annually enrolled about 25 graduate students. The program's graduates enjoy considerable career success. Some have pursued the PhD degree at major research universities, while others have found their skills marketable in a wide variety of other fields.


The MA degree has two primary components: coursework and a capstone project consisting of a MA thesis, paper, or examination. There is a degree required minimum of 30 graduate credits. Thirteen (13) credits are fulfilled by the following required courses:

  • Sociol 701–Professional Seminar (1 cr)
  • Sociol 715–Systematic Sociological Theory (3 cr)
  • Sociol 750–Research Methods in Sociology (3 cr)
  • Sociol 760–Advanced Statistical Methods in Sociology (3 cr)
  • Sociol 900-level sociology seminar course (3 cr)

The student, in consultation with her/his advisor, will select the remaining 17 elective credits. Up to five credits of Sociol 790–Master's Level Thesis/Paper may be taken by students who elect the thesis/paper capstone option. View MA Suggested Course Sequence to learn more.

With written permission of the student's advisor or Director of Graduate Studies, up to six graduate credits may be taken outside the department in courses related to the individual's plan of study. No more than six credits of undergraduate/graduate courses (excluding those previously taken as an undergraduate), taken at the graduate level, may be applied as degree credits.


The students must write and defend an acceptable thesis, paper or examination in fulfillment of the requirements for the MA Degree in Sociology.

To that end, when the MA student begins to formulate a topic for thesis, paper or exam, the student approaches a member of the Sociology Graduate Faculty to ask if she/he will serve as the Chair of his/her committee. This person then becomes the student advisor/major professor for the remainder of the time in the program. Students may choose to have their interim advisor as the chair of their M.A. committee, but in many cases a new advisor may be appropriate or necessary.

A good working relationship is necessary between the student and her/his committee chair, so it is usually best for the student to choose someone with whom she/he works well. With advice from the committee chair, students should solicit two additional committee members with whom they share research and teaching interests. Except for the committee chair, members of the students MA committee need not necessarily be from the Sociology Graduate Faculty. In rare instances, an appropriate person outside the university may be approved to serve on the committee.


The thesis or master's paper is intended to be a relatively limited research exercise, focused on a manageable topic. It does not necessarily have to involve original research. It is completed through enrollment in Sociol 790. Acceptable thesis or master's paper options include, but are not limited to, collection of data for hypothesis testing or exploratory research, secondary analysis of available data, theoretical critique, conceptual analysis and library research on a clearly defined problem. In general, students are encouraged to utilize existing data rather than collect new data unless they are confident that they have adequate resources (including time: Recommended Timeline for Developing and Completing MA Proposals and Thesis/Papers ) to collect data sufficient for their purposes. The list of master's papers 2009–2014 show the wide range of MA paper topics in the recent past.

By the end of the third semester, students should complete a proposal (MA Proposal Writing Guidelines) for the MA thesis or paper. The proposal will reflect the formulation of a research problem and the development of a plan for its empirical investigation. Once a proposal is successfully defended, it constitutes an agreement between the student and the MA Committee.

Students must prepare the thesis or master's paper under the direction of their committee, receive approval that it meets professional standards, and defend it at an oral examination. Students who choose to write a thesis should consult the Graduate School Thesis and Dissertation Formatting page. The thesis must be prepared according to these format requirements. The master's paper is normally the length of a journal article (about 30 pp.). Formatting for the MA Paper includes 1" margins, double spaced, pages numbers centered in the bottom footer, any standard font is acceptable (such as Times New Roman 12 pt), standard title page format. One bound copy, velo binding clear front cover, black back cover and one pdf copy must be submitted to the Department.

All enrolled MA students have access to a D2L site, Sociology MA Grad Students Site – UWM Sociology MA Program. Loaded on this site are sample MA Proposal and Papers from the last 10 years for your review. If you are unable to access this site, please contact the Sociology Department Office.

MA Examination

The Master of Arts examination option is based on a bibliography developed by the student in consultation with his/her committee. The bibliography will represent both classical statements and recent debates in at least one area of sociological specialization. Students are encouraged to develop the bibliography by the end of the third semester of residence.

The examination itself will be a set of three questions developed by the MA committee, from which the student must choose two. The student will have two weeks to write a take-home examination. The advisor and two other faculty members will grade the examination. Within two weeks of the completion of the written examination, there will be an oral examination on the same material.



Advisor, Initial

All first-year MS students are assigned an initial advisor by the Director of Graduate Studies. The purpose of the advisors is to help students plan their selection of courses, help them understand the expectations and requirements of the graduate program, guide them in learning more about their areas of interest, serve as a mentor, and help socialize them into the field of sociology. Students are expected to meet with their advisor at least twice during each semester.

The Initial Advisor serves as the student's advisor until a capstone committee chair/major professor is selected (usually around the end of the spring semester). The committee chair then becomes the main advisor for the reminder of time in the program. Depending on the topic of the thesis/paper/exam, the initial advisor may serve as the capstone committee chair, but a change may be necessary.

Advisor, Capstone/Committee Chair/Major Professor

By the end of the second semester or, at the latest, the start of the third semester, MA student should select a member of the Sociology Graduate Faculty to serve as their MA capstone advisor. It is important for graduate students to become familiar with the work of as many faculty members as possible so that the most appropriate person can be selected for this important role.

Credits Undergraduate/Graduate U/G

No more than six credits of U/G courses (excluding those previously taken as an undergraduate), taken at the graduate level, may be applied to the MA Degree in Sociology. The Graduate School also has a policy concerning U/G credits and that policy is available at Academic Policies & Procedure – Courses.

Credits taken in Departments Other Than Sociology

With written permission of the student's advisor or Director of Graduate Studies, up to six graduate credits may be taken outside the department in courses related to the individual's plan of study.

CommitteeMA Examination

The MA Exam will be conducted and graded by a committee consisting of three members of the Sociology Graduate Faculty

CommitteeMA Thesis/Paper

The MA Thesis/Paper committee consists of three individuals. The Committee Chair must be a member of the Sociology Graduate Faculty. The other two members must have their PhD degree and may be members of the Sociology Instructional Academic Staff or faculty from other departments on campus. In rare instances, an appropriate person outside the University may be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies to serve on the committee.

Diagnostic Examination for Graduate Statistics

All students will be required to complete a diagnostic test in statistics prior to enrolling in the required graduate course in sociological statistics, Sociol 760. The purpose of the assessment is to provide information that will enable the faculty to advise students on the appropriate placement in statistics. The test should be taken at least one full semester prior to enrolling in 760, which is offered in the spring semester, in order to allow students who need remedial work the time to complete it. Any students required to retake and resubmit the diagnostic test must do so by the last day of classes in the fall semester.

Good Standing

To retain good standing in the MA program, a student must maintain a minimum 3.0 cumulative grade point average and demonstrate progress toward completion of the MA degree in sociology and thesis/paper/exam requirements.


The requirements and regulations of the Graduate School (see the list below) have been approved by the Graduate Faculty Committee and govern all graduate students. A full description of the policies and procedures is available at Academic Policies & Procedure.

Add/Drop Policy
Appealing Academic Decisions
Audit Courses
Change of Degree Program
(Academic Warning, Graduate Dean's OK Required to Continue, Academic Dismissal)
Courses (Undergraduate/Graduate, Graduate)
Credit Requirements
Exceptions to Graduate Faculty Policy
(Request for Exception Form)
Full Time Enrollment
Grade Definitions and Requirements
(Grades with Associated Grade Points, Grade Definitions, Grades Without Associated Grade Points, Other Course Status Designations, S and U Grades, Credit/No Credit Basis)
(Service Indicators)
Incomplete Policy
Major Professor as Advisor
Maximum/Minimum Credit Load
Minimum Credit Load
Re-entering the Graduate School
Repeating Courses
Time Limit–Master's
Winter Session