Skip to main content
Skip to main menu


The Doctoral Program

Advanced Doctoral training, beginning in the third year of residence, is 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. A Committee may have as few as three and as many as five members. The fourth and fifth members may be appointed from other departments in the University of Georgia, provided they are members of the Graduate Faculty. Either the fourth or fifth member may be appointed from outside the University of Georgia, provided that he or she holds a Ph.D. At least two members of the Advisory Committee must be listed as members in their specialty area in which the student plans to take Doctoral Comprehensive Examination. All Committee members must be members of the Graduate Faculty with an appointment in sociology.

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 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 committee member being removed, and the Graduate Coordinator in consultation with the Major Professor of record and, if necessary, by the Academic 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. 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 students admitted to the Doctoral program Fall 1996 or later, the Program of Study requires a minimum of 30 consecutive hours of (semester) course work (note that the Graduate School requires a doctoral program of study to consist of at least 16 hours of 8000- and 9000- level courses in addition to research, dissertation writing, and directed study) and must include:

  1. A graduate-level Sociology methods course
    [This requirement will be waived for students who have taken a methods course as an elective while pursuing their M. A. degrees]
  2. One course outside the Department
    [As was the case for the Masters 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.]
  3. No more than 3 credit hours each of the following:
    a. SOCI 8000: Special Topics in Sociology
    b. SOCI 9000: Doctoral Research
    c. SOCI 9300: Doctoral Dissertation
  4. No more than 6 credit hours outside the Department.


Third-Year Review

Though the department conducts annual reviews of students, in compliance with Graduate School regulations, the Graduate Faculty evaluates each Doctoral student's progress at the end of the Spring Semester of their first year of study in the Doctoral program to ensure satisfactory progress. The basis of the evaluation will be a report by the Major Professor on work completed during the first year of Doctoral work. In addition to this report, the student's dossier must include the following:

  1. Request for Appointment of Major Professor; no student shall complete the review successfully without this form, signed by the Graduate Coordinator and Major Professor
  2. Transcript of graduate course work
  3. Written work completed such as papers, the Research Practicum, and Master of Arts thesis

As a result of this review, the Graduate Faculty will recommend one of the following:

  1. Continue in the Ph.D. Program
  2. Do not continue in the Ph.D. Program

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 and the examination at least four months prior to the exam. No student will be allowed to take the examination without having attended such a meeting. Written Comprehensive Examinations take place twice annually in the Fall and Spring semester. The exam will take place over two days within the same semester. Students must take the Written Comprehensive Examination no later than the Spring of their second year in residence in the doctoral program (fourth in the graduate program). The examination has an open book format, lasts one week, consists of 4 questions, with a 5-7-page maximum per question, exclusive of bibliography.

The final step before Admission to Candidacy is the Oral Comprehensive Examination, administered by the Advisory Committee. According to the Graduate School, the Oral Comprehensive Examination may include, but must not be limited to, the presentation, discussion and defense of the dissertation prospectus. 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 physically present for the entire period of this Examination. Once the Oral Comprehensive Examination has been passed, the student will 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 also 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. 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. 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. 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 allow a reasonable time (2 or 3 weeks) for him or her to evaluate the dissertation and suggest changes. Although the Graduate School requires written approval by the committee with no more than one dissenting vote, all members of the Advisory Committee be physically present for the entire defense.

Students with Previous Graduate Study

Students who are admitted to the Ph.D. Program with a Master's degree from any other institution must meet the course requirements listed for Master's students listed earlier.

Students entering with a recent (within the past five years) Master of Arts or Science (MA/MS) degree and a Master’s thesis from a U.S. Sociology Department or other related field may request direct entry into the doctoral program (and thus not complete a Master of Arts degree at UGA). Applicants who seek to directly enter the doctoral program must submit the thesis to the department’s Graduate Program Committee for review. The graduate coordinator and two faculty members chosen by the program committee will review the submitted thesis to determine whether it meets departmental standards.

For those prospective students already in possession of an MA/MS degree, the thesis may be submitted with the application material and direct acceptance to the Ph.D. program may be known before April 15. For those prospective students who are expecting to complete an MA/MS degree before enrolling at UGA but prior to applying to the department, the thesis may be submitted by August 1 and acceptance into the Ph.D. program will be known by September 30. Prospective students seeking to have their MA/MS approved will initially be admitted into the MA program. They will file for a change of degree objective if their MA/MS is approved at the department level.

If the committee does not accept the thesis, the applicant will still be admitted into the graduate program, but will be expected to complete the Master’s degree requirements. If the committee does accept the thesis, and thus allows the student to bypass a UGA Master’s degree, the student will still be required to take SOCI 6600 (Graduate Methods) and two semesters of SOCI 6190 (Proseminar). The student must also make-up any course work deficiencies, such as the required statistic courses (SOCI 6620, 6630) and the required theory course (Soci 6410 or 6190) if such comparable courses were not taken at the student’s previous institution. These required courses at the M.A. level may not be used by the student on his/her Ph.D. Program of Study.