The Graduate Program in Sociology
During a typical year, between 50 and 55 students are engaged in full-time graduate training in sociology at Penn State. Those working toward the M.A. must complete 36 credits, including at least one course in theory, three in statistics and methods, and a breadth requirement. Students occasionally enroll in larger classes, but most of their course work takes place in seminars with six to twelve members. A thesis prepared in journal-article format is required for the M.A. as well.
Once the M.A. has been received (generally at the end of the second year), the emphasis of the program shifts to building competence in major and minor specialty areas. Doctoral students typically specialize in our areas of major strength, including:
- Quantitative Methods
- Sociology of Education
- Stratification and Race/Ethnic/Gender Inequality
- Urban and Community Sociology
Penn State also offers the unique opportunity for students to earn a Dual-Title Ph.D. in Sociology and Demography. Students in any area of specialization may earn a or a Certificate in Survey Methodology. Formal graduate minors in Social Thought, Women's Studies, and other disciplines are also available.
Certification in the Sociology major and minor specialty areas is achieved by taking additional courses, passing a comprehensive examination, and writing a doctoral thesis on a topic relevant to the major area. Students are expected to defend the thesis and complete requirements for the Ph.D. by the end of the fifth year.
Beyond formal training, our program offers numerous chances to sharpen practical skills. For example, students with an M.A. who have taken the teaching workshop (required for the Ph.D.) may solo-teach undergraduate courses in the department. Many also take the department's seminar on writing for publication. And all students are encouraged to collaborate with faculty on research projects, participate in colloquia, and develop papers for presentation at professional meetings and submission to scholarly journals.