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This archived information is dated to the 2009-10 academic year only and may no longer be current.

For currently applicable policies and information, see the current Stanford Bulletin.

Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology

The Ph.D. curriculum and degree requirements are designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills to become proficient scholars and teachers. Doctoral students in the department must take required courses for a letter grade if available and are expected to earn a grade of 'B+' or better in each course. Any grade of 'B' or below is considered to be less than satisfactory. Grades of 'B' or below are reviewed by faculty and the following actions may take place: the grade stands and the student's academic performance is monitored to ensure that satisfactory progress is being made; the grade stands and the student is required to revise and resubmit the work associated with that course; or the student may be required to retake the course.

Students must complete the following department requirements for the Ph.D. degree in Sociology:

  1. Students must enroll in SOC 305, Graduate Proseminar, in Autumn Quarter of the first year; the course provides an introduction and orientation to the field of sociology, and to the department and faculty. One unit of credit is given for this course; grading is on a satisfactory/no credit basis.
  2. In order to establish breadth in the field, students are required to complete 45 units of course work in Sociology in the first academic year, then 15 units of Sociology course work in the second academic year. Course work excludes workshop, independent study, and directed reading units.
  3. Students must complete three quarters of research experience, working under the supervision of one or more faculty members, including regular, emeritus, and affiliated faculty. The experience may involve paid work as a research assistant (RA), or unpaid work as a research apprentice. With prior approval, this requirement may be met through work on research projects conducted outside the department or University. It is recommended that students complete their research requirements early in their graduate program; the requirement must be completed by the end of the fourth year of residency.
  4. Students must complete three quarters of teaching apprenticeship in departmental courses, or in other courses by approval. Work as either a teaching assistant (TA) under the supervision of a faculty member or as a teaching fellow (TF) fulfills this requirement. Students are required to take SOC 300, Workshop: Teaching Development, in Spring Quarter of the first year. In addition, students are encouraged to take advantage of department and University teacher training programs. Students for whom English is a second language are expected to acquire sufficient facility in English to be an effective teacher.
  5. Students must complete four broad survey courses to demonstrate command of a range of sociological literatures. Each year the department specifies which courses meet this requirement, and undertakes to ensure that an adequate selection of such courses is offered. A list of courses that fulfill this requirement is listed in the requirements section below. Students should consult with their adviser to ensure that the combination of courses chosen to meet this requirement exhibits sufficient breadth. This requirement is normally completed by the end of the second year of residency and must be met by the end of the third year of residency.
  6. Students must take one course in classical sociological theory (SOC 370A or B, or equivalent), and one course on the development of theory and research design (SOC 372 or equivalent). It is recommended that students complete SOC 370A and B, although only one of these courses is formally required.
  7. Students must complete the series of required research methods courses listed in the requirements section below. Students with little background in statistics are encouraged to take SOC 281B or an equivalent statistics course such as STATS 60 or PSYCH 10.
  8. Beginning in year two, doctoral students are required to enroll in at least one workshop each quarter. Sociology workshops are offered for 1-2 units and attendance is required to receive course credit. The Graduate Studies Director may approve a student's petition to attend a workshop when enrolling is prohibited by unit constraints; such attendance is not noted on the transcript.
  9. Students must complete a paper in the second year of residency on any sociological topic; it may address theoretical, empirical, or methodological issues. The paper is expected to reflect original work and is considered an important piece of evidence in the decision to advance to candidacy. A two-person committee that includes the primary adviser evaluates the paper. Although the reading committee is usually comprised of two regular faculty members in the department, emeritus and affiliated faculty may also serve as readers. The two readers of the second-year paper committee provide a review that speaks to: (1) whether the paper is publishable; and (2) what types of revisions, insofar as the paper is publishable, the student should pursue to ready the paper for publication. These comments are shared with the Director of Graduate Studies. Additionally, the committee meets with the student in June of the second year to discuss these reviews. To ensure that students are making adequate progress on their paper, students are required to provide a first draft of the paper to readers by April 1. The final deadline for paper submission is May 15.
  10. Students are required to present at least two papers at a major professional meeting in their first five years of graduate study.
  11. Students must prepare a dissertation prospectus and pass the University oral examination. The oral exam is intended to evaluate the dissertation prospectus or a partial draft of the dissertation and to assess the student's knowledge of the theory and research in the area in which the project intends to contribute. This requirement must be completed by December 1 of the fourth year of residency.
  12. Each student must complete a doctoral dissertation. At the choice of the student, and in consultation with the adviser, the dissertation requirement may be met either by submitting the standard book-style document or by submitting three independent papers. The latter papers may address the same topic, but should be written as stand-alone, single-authored papers in standard journal format. None of these papers may overlap substantially with the second-year paper or with one another. The main criterion in judging substantial overlap is whether any standard journal, such as The American Journal of Sociology, would regard the papers as too similar to publish both. The dissertation must be submitted to all committee members at least 30 days in advance of the filing deadline. Assessment of satisfactory completion is determined by the student's doctoral committee members. Students are invited to present their dissertation findings at an informal department colloquium.

The faculty is responsible for providing students with timely and constructive feedback on their progress toward the Ph.D. In order to evaluate student progress and to identify potential problem areas, the department's faculty reviews the academic progress of each first-year student at the beginning of Winter and Spring quarters and again at the end of the academic year. The first two reviews are primarily intended to identify developing problems that could impede progress. In most cases, students are simply given constructive feedback, but if more serious concerns warrant, a student may be placed on probation with specific guidelines for addressing the problems detected. The review at the end of Spring Quarter is more thorough; each student's performance during the first year is reviewed and discussed. Possible outcomes of the spring review include: (1) continuation of the student in good standing, or (2) placing the student on probation, with specific guidelines for the period of probation and the steps to be taken in order to be returned to good standing. For students on probation at this point (or at any other subsequent points), possible outcomes of a review include: (1) restoration to good standing; (2) continued probation, again with guidelines for necessary remedial steps; or (3) termination from the program. Students leaving the program at the end of the first year are usually allowed to complete the requirements to receive an M.A. degree, if this does not involve additional residence or financial support. All students are given feedback from their advisers at the end of their first year of graduate work, helping them to identify areas of strengths and potential weakness.

At the end of the second year of residency, the faculty again review the progress of all doctoral students in the program. Students who are performing well, as indicated by their course work, teaching and research apprenticeship performance, and second-year paper, are advanced to candidacy. This step implies that the student has demonstrated the relevant qualities required for successful completion of the Ph.D. Future evaluations are based on the satisfactory completion of specific remaining department and University requirements. Students who are still on probation at this stage may be (1) advanced to candidacy; (2) retained on probation with specification of the steps still required to be removed from this status; or (3) terminated from the program.

At any point during the degree program, evidence that a student is performing at a less than satisfactory level may be cause for a formal academic review of that student.



Students must complete four courses from an approved list. This list is updated and circulated to students at the start of each academic year. Note: class offerings rotate; not all approved survey courses are offered every year. The following courses typically fulfill the survey course requirement:

308. Social Demography

310. Political Sociology

314. Economic Sociology

316. Historical and Comparative Sociology

318. Social Movements and Collective Action

320. Foundations of Social Psychology

322. Social Interaction, Social Structure, and Social Exchange

340. Social Stratification

342B. Gender and Social Structure

345. Comparative Race and Ethnic Relations

360. Foundations of Organizational Sociology

363A. Seminar on Organizational Theory


The following course requirements apply to students who entered the Ph.D program in 2005-06 or later. Students are also expected to complete one elective from a list of approved courses that is updated and circulated at the start of each academic year. Students are required to enroll in 384, Sociology Methodology IV: New Models and Methods, in their first or second year of the program.

281B. Statistics (not required but recommended for students with little statistical background)

381. Sociological Methodology I: Introduction

382. Sociological Methodology II: The General Linear Model

383. Sociological Methodology III: Advanced Models for Discrete Outcomes

384. Sociology Methodology IV: New Models and Methods

385A. Research Practicum I

385B. Research Practicum II

The following course requirements apply to students who entered the Ph.D program in 2004-05 or earlier.

281B. Statistics (recommended for students with little statistical background)

381A. Sociological Methodology I: Computer Assisted Data Analysis

382. Sociological Methodology II: The General Linear Model

383. Sociological Methodology III: Advanced Models for Discrete Outcomes

388. Advanced Models for Analysis of Tabular Arrays

or 389. Mixed Method Research Design


370A. Sociological Theory: Social Structure, Inequality, and Conflict

or 370B. Sociological Theory: Social Interaction and Group Processes

372. Theoretical Analysis and Design

Students must complete additional course work sufficient to prepare them to write their second-year paper.

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