Advanced Doctoral training during the third and fourth years of residence are structured by the student's selection of an area in which to concentrate his or her studies. During the Fall Semester of the third year, students select a Major Professor and, in consultation with the Major Professor, the remaining members of the Ph.D. Advisory Committee.  Students who completed a sociology M.A. degree at UGA may select a different Major Professor for Doctoral work, if they choose.  A Committee may have as few as three and as many as five members.  At least two members of the Advisory Committee must be listed as members of the Specialty Area in which the student plans to take Doctoral Comprehensive Examination (see Appendix C for list of faculty by specialty area).   All Committee members must be members of the Graduate Faculty with an appointment in sociology (see Appendix B for list of Graduate Faculty). Students should review the policies outlined in the Graduate Bulletin for additional details regarding the composition of the Doctoral committee.

The Ph.D. Advisory Committee is responsible for the following:

  1. plan the Doctoral Program of Study with the student
  2. prepare and evaluate the Doctoral Written Comprehensive Examination
  3. conduct and evaluate the Doctoral Oral Comprehensive Examination
  4. conduct and evaluate a hearing on the dissertation prospectus
  5. serve on the student's dissertation committee

Designation of the Major Professor and the Doctoral Advisory Committee requires the completion of two forms: Request for Appointment of Major Professor and Designation of Specialty Area and Advisory Committee for Doctoral Candidates.  Once the Advisory Committee has been appointed and approved, requests for changes require completion of two forms:  Request for Change in Advisory Committee - Doctoral Degrees and a revised Advisory Committee for Doctoral Candidates. Committee changes must be approved in writing by the Graduate Coordinator in consultation with the Major Professor of record and, if necessary, by the Graduate Program Committee.  All current and past committee members shall be notified of such changes.

Doctoral Program of Study

The Ph.D. training program focuses primarily on defining and mastering an area of theoretical and research literature that can serve as a foundation for advanced study. The courses included on the Doctoral Program of Study should therefore form a coherent whole. As indicated above, development of the Program of Study rests not just with the student, but also with his or her Major Professor, in consultation with the Ph.D. Advisory Committee. For the Ph.D. program of study, we require 21 substantive hours (7 electives) plus 9 “dummy hours”. 

The Program of Study requires a minimum of 30 consecutive hours of (semester) course work and must include:

A graduate-level Sociology methods course
One course outside of the Department
6 credit hours of SOCI 9000: Doctoral Research
3 credit hours of SOCI 9300: Doctoral Dissertation
No more than 6 credit hours outside of the Department
No more than 3 credit hours of SOCI 8000

The methods requirement (#1) will be waived for students who have taken a methods course as an elective while pursuing their M.A. degrees. As was the case for the Master’s Program of Study, courses taken outside the Department and included on the Program of Study must be part of a coherent program toward the Doctoral Degree in Sociology. Courses taught by faculty members in Sociology, regardless of course prefix, are not considered courses outside the Department. Note that the Graduate School requires a doctoral program of study to consist primarily of 8000- and 9000- level courses. Please visit PhD Programs of Study on the Graduate School website for more information.

Written and Oral Comprehensive Examinations

The Graduate School requires that all Doctoral students pass a Written and Oral Comprehensive Examination before they are admitted to candidacy for the Doctoral degree.  Students planning to take the Written Comprehensive Examination must meet with their Advisory Committee, as a whole, to discuss the reading list and the examination at least 4 months prior to the exam.  No student will be allowed to take the examination without having attended such a meeting.  A form documenting this meeting is available in the graduate student office. Written Comprehensive Examinations take place the third Tuesday and Wednesday of the Fall and Spring semesters.   The examination takes 5 hours per day, consists of 4 typed answers, with a 5-7 page maximum per answer, exclusive of bibliography.  Departmental procedures for the examination are detailed in Appendix D.

The final step before Admission to Candidacy is the Oral Comprehensive Examination, administered by the Advisory Committee.  It is an inclusive examination within the student’s field of study, and it must be held within one month of the grading of the written examination.  The Graduate School requires notification of the Oral Comprehensive Examination two weeks before it is to be held.   All members of the Advisory Committee must be present for the entire period of this Examination.  According to the Graduate School Bulletin, a discussion of the student’s dissertation prospectus may precede or follow the Oral Comprehensive Examination, but it may not take the place of the Oral Comprehensive Exam.

Students who enter with an approved M.A. are expected to complete the written and oral comprehensive exams no later than the second semester of their third year. Students who enter without a M.A. are expected to complete the written and oral comprehensive exams no later than the second semester of their fourth year.  If a student is unsuccessful, he/she will have one opportunity to re-take the exam in the next semester.  Continuation in the program will be contingent upon successfully completing the exam during this second attempt and upon compliance with the Satisfactory Progress Policy (see Appendix F or F1 for all students entering the program after May 2014).

Admission to Candidacy

Once the Written and Oral Comprehensive Examination has been passed and all course work and residency requirements met, the student may be admitted to candidacy for the Doctoral degree.  Admission to candidacy expires in 5 years.  If the dissertation is not completed within 5 years, the student must pass another set of Written and Oral Comprehensive Examinations and be readmitted to candidacy.   The student may request an extension of the 5-year time limit from the Dean of the Graduate School.  Such a request requires the endorsement of the student’s major professor and the Graduate Coordinator.

Dissertation Prospectus

After completing the Doctoral Comprehensive Examinations, the student prepares a preliminary prospectus for a dissertation. This prospectus will be reviewed by the major professor and revised by the student until it provides a clear picture of the proposed dissertation, including reviews of relevant theoretical, substantive, and methodological issues raised by the proposed research project and an outline of how the proposed research would proceed. The dissertation prospectus is then distributed to members of the Advisory Committee. The candidate should submit a draft of the dissertation prospectus to each member of the committee and the committee members must have three weeks to read and evaluate the completed dissertation prospectus.  While there can be no guarantee that a dissertation research effort will develop exactly along the lines proposed, the dissertation prospectus offers the student and faculty advisors an opportunity to work together to identify important issues and to agree on an approach to address those issues.

The Graduate School requires that the dissertation prospectus be approved in a formal meeting of the Advisory Committee and the student (Graduate Bulletin).  The members of the Advisory Committee must sign the Dissertation Prospectus Approval form, available from the Degree Program Assistant.   That form, along with a copy of the approved prospectus, must be submitted to the Graduate Coordinator and retained in the student’s file.

The Dissertation Defense

The dissertation project is the culmination of the student's graduate program.  The dissertation constitutes an original and independent research project undertaken by the student with the advice of the Major Professor and Advisory Committee.  It is expected that the dissertation will advance knowledge in the field by addressing a new issue or by clarifying or successfully reinterpreting an existing sociological problem.  All methods of research employed in sociology, including experimental, historical, survey, qualitative, and theoretical methods are considered potentially viable for purposes of the dissertation project.

            The final step in the graduate training program in Sociology is the oral defense of the dissertation before the Advisory Committee. The Graduate School requires a dissertation defense announcement from the Graduate Coordinator at least two weeks prior to the dissertation defense.  To ensure that the student benefits from the knowledge and experience of all members of the Advisory Committee, the candidate should submit a draft of the dissertation to each member and the committee members must have three weeks to read and evaluate the completed dissertation. The Graduate School requires the Dissertation and Final Examination Approval form signed by all members of the Advisory Committee with no more than one dissenting vote. All members of the Advisory Committee must be present for the entire defense (Graduate Bulletin).