PhD 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 PhD program is new; the first cohort of five was admitted for Fall, 2011.

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 PhD degree is the highest degree conferred by the University. It is a research degree, not conferred solely as a result of any prescribed period of study. The degree is granted on evidence of general proficiency, distinctive attainment in a defined academic field, and ability to carry out independent investigation as demonstrated in a dissertation that presents original research or creative scholarship with a high degree of literary skill.

CREDITS AND COURSES

The program requires 36 graduate credits of course work at the post-master's level. Entering students are expected to have completed the following courses or their equivalents in the process of earning a master's degree:
  • Sociol 715–Systematic Sociological Theory
  • Sociol 750–Research Methods in Sociology
  • Sociol 760–Advanced Statistical Methods in Sociology
Students who have not taken these courses prior to admission to the PhD program will be required to complete them in the first year of their pursuit of a doctoral degree. Credits earned in these courses will not count as part of the 36 credits required at the post-master's level.

At the PhD level, students must complete the following coursework:
  • Sociol 910–The Sociology of Inequality
  • Sociol 911–The Sociology of Institutions
  • Sociol 982–Advanced Quantitative Analysis
  • One additional elective course in social science methodology
  • Beyond the core requirements, students must choose to specialize in either social inequalities or social institutions and complete 9 credits (usually this would be 3 courses) designated in that specialty area
  • Electives (9 or more credits) and dissertation (up to 6 credits)
  • Required for Students with Teaching Assistant positions: Sociol 794–The Teaching of Undergraduate Sociology. This one credit course will be offered each spring semester.
Doctoral students may not accumulate more than 6 credits in U/G courses without the approval of the Sociology Director of Graduate Studies. Of the 60 required credits, no more than 12 credits outside of Sociology may be counted toward the doctoral degree without the approval of the Sociology Director of Graduate Studies.

Foreign Language or Specialized Skill. This Graduate School requirement may be satisfied by demonstrating one of the following:
  • Proficiency in a foreign language useful in the student's career, indicated by the completion of two courses at the upper division level (numbered 300 and above or requiring junior standing) with at least a B average. Credits satisfying this requirement will not count toward the credits required for the PhD degree.
  • Proficiency in mathematical, statistical, or computer skills. Completion of the required methods and statistics sequence (Sociol 750, 760, 982 or their equivalents) and an additional 3 credits of graduate coursework in statistics related to social sciences with at least a B average will satisfy this requirement.

PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION

All doctoral students are required to complete preliminary examinations in two specialty areas after completing 27 credits at the post-master’s level. The areas are selected by the doctoral candidates in consultation with their advisor and other members of the graduate faculty. Examination areas are limited to those subfields or subdisciplines that are within the student’s area of specialization and widely recognized areas within sociology. For example, they might be recognized sections of the American Sociological Association or other subfields with similar scope. The disciplinary subfields must be broader than, but related to, the focus of the student's dissertation and must be approved by the Department's Graduate Studies Committee.

An empirical paper may be substituted for one preliminary examination. The empirical paper is read and evaluated by two members of the graduate faculty in sociology. The length and quality of the paper should be similar to that of a journal article.

Students who do not pass an examination on the first attempt will be provided feedback on their performance and be allowed to take the exam a second time but must do so within 9 months of the administration of the first exam. Students who do not successfully complete the examination upon the second attempt will not be allowed to continue in the program.

 

DISSERTATION

The dissertation is a major piece of original research representing a substantial contribution to sociological scholarship. In order to become eligible for dissertation status, the student must complete a successful oral defense of a dissertation proposal before the student's doctoral committee.

The dissertation itself, under the supervision of the major professor and in collaboration with a dissertation committee, must demonstrate the ability of the candidate to formulate a research topic and pursue an independent and original research representing a substantial contribution to sociological scholarship. The practices necessary for completion of the dissertation will conform to the guidelines established by the UWM Graduate School. The dissertation committee shall be composed of the major professor and four additional graduate faculty members (at least three of whom must be from the UWM Department of Sociology graduate faculty). The dissertation committee is responsible for assessing the dissertation project, which involves approving the dissertation proposal, reviewing working drafts of research in progress, and, finally, evaluating the candidate's ability to defend decisions made during the course of research and the results of the research. After submission of a reading copy of the dissertation to the faculty dissertation committee, the candidate and the major professor will schedule a committee meeting for the purpose of undertaking an oral defense of the dissertation work by the candidate. At the conclusion of the candidate's oral remarks, the dissertation committee will vote on passing the candidate's dissertation work. A majority of the committee must vote to approve the dissertation and recommend granting of the Doctor of Philosophy degree.

DEPARTMENT PhD DEGREE ACADEMIC POLICIES & PROCEDURES

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 PhD 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
Of the 60 required credits, no more than 12 credits outside of Sociology may be counted toward the doctoral degree without the approval of the Sociology Director of Graduate Studies.

Good Standing  To retain good standing in the Department of Sociology, a doctoral student must:
•    Maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or above
•    Enroll for and complete at least 6 degree credits each semester
•    While preparing to take doctoral preliminary examinations, a teaching assistant may enroll for 1 graduate credit for one semester only. This option requires Graduate School approval prior to the beginning of the semester. The Assistant Justification form must be used by the student to request this exemption, and the application for the doctoral preliminary examination must be on file in the Graduate School.
•    A teaching assistant who has achieved dissertator status must enroll each semester for a minimum of three (3) graduate credits at the current per credit dissertator rate.


GRADUATE SCHOOL ACADEMIC POLICIES & PROCEDURES

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
Continuation
(Academic Warning, Graduate Dean's OK Required to Continue, Academic Dismissal)
Courses (Undergraduate/Graduate, Graduate)
Credit Requirements
Dean
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)
Holds
(Service Indicators)
Incomplete Policy
Major Professor as Advisor
Maximum/Minimum Credit Load
Overloads
Minimum Credit Load
Re-entering the Graduate School
Repeating Courses
Time Limit–PhD
Transcripts
Winter Session
Withdrawal