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The School of Anthropology, Political Science, and Sociology offers graduate work leading to the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Sociology. The Master of Arts in Sociology gives students an opportunity to acquire a general knowledge of sociology through lecture courses, seminars, and exposure to a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches. The Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology centers around advanced offerings in the areas of theory, methods, social movements, gender, sexualities, religion, communities, and inequalities. A special concentration in criminology, deviance, and criminal justice allows interested students to pursue a substantial part of the doctoral studies in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Students may pursue a Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies graduate certificate at the same time as well.

The faculty of the program is research-oriented and encourages a similar orientation on the part of its students. The program maintains a small library and state-of-the-art computer facilities for qualitative and quantitative analyses.

This program requires a nonrefundable $65 application fee that must be submitted with the application for Admissions to Graduate Study in Sociology. This must be paid by credit card at the time you submit the online application.

Admission to Graduate Study in Sociology

Applicants have a few options. Undergraduates who majored in Sociology or a closely-related field (some Sociology required, evaluated on a case-by-case basis) with a GPA of 3.0 may apply for the two- year M.A. in Sociology program, or they may apply for direct entry into the Ph.D. in Sociology program. Students with M.A. degrees in Sociology or closely-related fields (evaluated on a case-by-case basis) with a graduate GPA of 3.25 may apply to the Ph.D. in Sociology program. To apply to either program, the student must submit personal and research statements, three reference letters, a writing sample, a CV, and official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate academic grades to the school for review by the graduate admissions committee. Scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) are required for consideration for admission.

Complete applications must be received by January 1 to be considered for a Master’s fellowship, a Doctoral fellowship, a Graduate Dean’s fellowship, or a PROMPT assistantship, by February 15 to be considered for a graduate assistantship, and by March 1 for final consideration. Admitted students begin the subsequent fall semester. Admission for the spring semester will be given only in exceptional circumstances and only for spring terms in even numbered years. International students must achieve 550 or better on the paper-based TOEFL, 213 on the computer-based TOEFL, 80 on the internet-based TOEFL, and 6.5 on the IELTS; these are minimum scores; international students may be asked to engage in a telephone or zoom conversation to ensure English proficiency.

Persons seeking more information should email the current Director of Graduate Studies as listed on our website. Students can access our program website ( Here you can find more information about the program, faculty, students, and the link for applications. For more information about graduate fellowships and about financial assistance programs, see the Graduate School Website (

Admission from SIU Carbondale M.A. to Ph.D. Program

M.A. in Sociology students who wish to continue work towards a doctoral degree must submit a formal application including the program application form, a statement of purpose, two letters of recommendation, a writing sample, and transcripts (these can be pulled from student's file). Applications will be reviewed using the policies, procedures, and guidelines applicable to external Ph.D. in Sociology applicants and will involve an assessment of performance in the M.A. in Sociology program. Applications must be received by January 1 to receive full consideration for fellowships.

Graduate Assistantships and Fellowships

A limited number of assistantships for qualified students are available through the program and school on a competitive basis. Eligible applicants may be nominated for various fellowships awarded by the Graduate School in University-wide competition that have deadlines in January and February. Once funded, a student's continued funding is contingent on the student's satisfactory performance in the program, annual evaluations by faculty (on students' performance in classes & readings, work assignments, timely progress in the program, and professional service and activities), passing comprehensive exams in a timely manner, and on the availability of funds.

Graduate Student Evaluation Criteria

Acceptance into either degree program, continuation/retention in either degree program, and funding in the graduate program are at the discretion of the program. Students need to maintain a GPA of at least 3.0. If a GPA goes below 3.0, the student is placed on academic probation by the Graduate School. Any graduate student on academic probation whose grade point average remains below 3.0 for two consecutive semesters in which she or he is enrolled, excluding summer sessions, will be permanently suspended from the Graduate School, and thus from our program. In other words, the student has one semester to bring the GPA back up to an average of 3.0. Decisions about admission, retention, and funding will be based on five criteria:

1. Timely progress in the program

Students are expected to make normal progress toward the degree, and failure to progress according to the Graduate Catalog for Sociology will diminish priority for funding (dependent on availability), admission, and continuation. M.A. in Sociology students are expected to complete all coursework and the master's paper within two years. Residency in the Ph.D. in Sociology program requires 24 credit hours of coursework (only 6 credit hours of SOC 600 count toward this 24) and must occur prior to advancing to candidacy. The doctoral examination is taken in January of the second year; students with an SIU M.A. in Sociology take the doctoral examination in the January of their first year. The substantive comprehensive review paper must be completed within one year of the doctoral comprehensive examination, but it is highly recommended that it be completed within a few months. Students advance to candidacy after achieving residency, successfully completing all required courses, completing both examinations, and defending the dissertation prospectus. Students need 24 credit hours in SOC 600 to complete the Ph.D. in Sociology (only six of which may occur prior to candidacy). Failure to make timely progress in the program will decrease the likelihood of program or school funding and may impact continuation in the program. Retention and funding in the Ph.D. in Sociology program are also contingent on faculty evaluations that occur annually (see the next section on grades and the Annual Review section for details and situations that likely lead to lowered priority for funding and/or dismissal from the program). For an SIU M.A. in Sociology student, the Ph.D. in Sociology program should be about four years and for those with an external M.A. in Sociology about five years.

2. Grades

Sociology students need to maintain a GPA of 3.0. Student must earn an A or B for course credit. Courses cannot be re-taken due to the two-year rotation of scheduling courses. A grade of C or lower in a required/research tool course is grounds for immediate dismissal from the program. However, in the case of a C grade in a required/research tool course, exceptions and possible remedies will be considered by the Graduate Studies Committee on a case-by-case basis. If a student earns a grade of C in a non-research tool course (i.e., an elective), the course will not count toward the required credit hours and must be replaced with a grade of A or B in an additional course and the student must meet the terms of academic probation set by the Graduate School. A grade of D or F in any course is grounds for immediate dismissal Failure to make timely progress lowers a student's priority for funding or may result in dismissal from the program.

  • Incompletes in coursework will diminish priority for funding.
  • Students with incompletes in theory (SOC 501) and methods/stats (SOC 526A & SOC 526B, SOC 512, SOC 514) will be ineligible to take the comprehensive examinations.
  • Students with incompletes will have lower priority for acceptance into the Ph.D. in Sociology program.
  • Plagiarism is grounds for de-funding and dismissal from the program.

3. Exams

Successful completion of the doctoral and substantive exams increases priority for funding while failing decreases priority. Failing the doctoral comprehensive exam may preclude funding; failing the substantive review paper is grounds for immediate dismissal (see exam section for information on grading and revisions).

4. Prospectus and research

Priority for funding and retention will decrease if a student has not made progress towards a prospectus committee by the end of the second year of Ph.D. in Sociology for those with an SIU M.A. in Sociology and third year of Ph.D. in Sociology for others. The dissertation prospectus should be defended by the middle of the relevant subsequent year. Students may lose funding and may be dropped from the program if they do not defend a proposal by the end of their third year for students with an SIU MA, and fourth year in the Ph.D. program for students with an external M.A.; exceptions will be considered by the Graduate Studies Committee on a case-by-case basis. Additionally, students who present professional papers or published papers and who submit/publish papers will be given increased priority for funding. Once the student advances to candidacy, they have five years to complete an approved dissertation.

5. Teaching evaluations

Priority for teaching-related funding will also be tied to successful teaching as indicated by teaching evaluations and faculty oversight. Students with strong research skills (indicated by coursework and exam performance) will be given priority for research-related funding contingent on resources.  

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Sociology

The M.A. in Sociology requires a minimum of 30 credit hours of coursework and a research paper. Students are required to take the following three courses: SOC 501, Classical Sociological Theory (3 CH); SOC 526A, Statistical Data Analysis in Sociology I (4 CH); and SOC 512, Sociological Research Methods and Design (4 CH). Students must receive an A or B in all three classes. Students are required to enroll in four additional graduate seminars (12 CH) in sociology (one of which may be at the 400 level) or related discipline if granted permission by the Coordinator of Graduate Studies, and in four credit hours of individual research for completion of the master's degree research paper (SOC 591). Students may take Independent Readings (SOC 596) as long as the above requirements are also fulfilled.

Credit Hours per Semester

We require full-time students with full assistantships (i.e., ½ time assistantships) to enroll in a minimum of eight credit hours per semester. Students with graduate fellowships, Veteran's benefits, or SIU scholarships also must take at least nine credit hours as required by the Graduate School. GAs in their final semester of the M.A. in Sociology program who have or will meet all requirements may seek program approval to take six credit hours in that final semester.

Master's Research Paper

The research paper is developed from a paper produced in a sociology course or through independent readings/research with a faculty member. Students will select an advisor for the Master's Research Paper (e.g., the person who taught the course or supervised the readings/research project). Students will enroll with this faculty member for four credit hours in SOC 591, Individual Research, for the completion of the research paper. These credit hours should be taken when the student will be doing the most work on the research paper and can be divided across two terms. The student alerts the Director of Graduate Studies when a chair and second reader are selected. In case of disagreement over the evaluation (pass/ revision/fail) of the paper, the Graduate Studies Committee will appoint a third reader. The Master's Research Paper normally is 30 to 40 pages in length and uses the standard American Sociological Review reference style or the APA style guide. In addition to submitting the paper per the Graduate School requirements, one suitably bound copy must be deposited in the program or school library.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Sociology


The responsibility for initial advisement rests with the Coordinator of Graduate Studies. As soon as possible, the student, in consultation with the Coordinator of Graduate Studies, will request an appropriate member of the program's graduate faculty to serve as the student's academic advisor. This advisor will help prepare a general plan of study and will be responsible for making sure that their student understands the various requirements of the program and is making timely progress.

It is the student's responsibility to develop, in consultation with their advisor, a plan of study leading to timely completion of the comprehensive examinations and dissertation (a form is available on our website). This plan of study will be filed in the student's permanent file. Change of advisor should be filed with the Coordinator of Graduate Studies.

Research Tool Requirement

Doctoral students must complete the following courses (equaling 22 Credit Hours) with grades of A or B:

  • SOC 501
  • SOC 512
  • SOC 514
  • SOC 526A
  • SOC 526B
  • SOC 518 

In addition to these courses, students must develop research skills that are appropriate and necessary for their dissertation research (see the next section and the time-lines for additional requirements and clarifications). It is the responsibility of the student's program advisor to supervise the student's development of these research skills.

Course Work and Readings

While in the Ph.D. in Sociology program, students must take at least four substantive, 500-level, seminars in sociology (15 credit hours; on a case-by-case basis, permission may be granted for courses in a related discipline) beyond the research tool courses. Ideally the seminars should be taken prior to the substantive examination. In addition to the regularly offered courses and seminars, the program provides supervised readings depending upon the availability of faculty members. Supervised readings are not to be taken as substitutes for regularly-scheduled courses and seminars, and registration in them requires prior approval by the readings faculty in an email granting permission for the course and general approval by the student's advisor. This email must be forwarded to the Coordinator of Graduate Studies.

Credit Hours per Semester

We require full-time students with full assistantships (i.e., ½ time assistantships) to enroll in a minimum of eight credit hours per semester. Students with graduate fellowships, Veteran's benefits, or SIU scholarships also must take at least nine credit hours as required by the Graduate School.

Comprehensive Examinations

Ph.D. students must pass one written comprehensive exam and one written comprehensive review paper: the Doctoral Comprehensive Exam which is taken during the second weekend in January of the first year for students with an SIU M.A. in Sociology and the second year for others, and the Substantive Comprehensive Review Paper on the student's research field which should be finished within one year of the Doctoral Comprehensive Exam. Students should form the substantive review paper committee within three months after completion of the Doctoral Comprehensive Exam. Students are advised to complete this paper within a few months if possible.

Doctoral Comprehensive Exam

This examination will be geared towards the demonstration of sociological insights, and its results will be graded by any two faculty members who taught a graduate course or supervised graduate students in the preceding three semesters. Ph.D. in Sociology students with an SIU M.A. in Sociology take the exam after their first semester in the Ph.D. in Sociology program and others after their third semester.

Using an article selected by the examination committee, students will discuss and provide written commentary and critique on key substantive concepts, theories, method analysis, and sociological insights or contributions in 15 double-spaced typed pages, 12 pt font. Students will be assessed on their ability to clearly and concisely summarize, discuss, and critique the article and provide alternative theoretical and/or methodological arguments. The examination committee will consist of two faculty members who have taught graduate courses and/or supervised graduate students in the previous three semesters. The examiners will be chosen by lottery conducted by the Director of Graduate Studies. The examiners will rotate every exam period. The two faculty members will select a sociological article for the exam at least two to three days before the exam. Faculty graders will have up to four full regular semester weeks to grade the comprehensive exams and will report their individual written results to the Director of Graduate Studies. Results will be Pass or Fail and the grade will be used as one aspect of evaluation for continuation in the program.

Annual Faculty Review

All Ph.D. students will compile dossiers that will be used in a full faculty review of on-campus Ph.D. graduate students (including ABDs). The review will occur in late spring. Materials are due February 1. Students must submit a CV, along with a statement of purpose for completing Ph.D. in Sociology studies.

  • Up-to-date curriculum vita: name, address, address, education, current position, assistantship and work history in the program, courses taught, research-paper presentations and publications, professional memberships, and other scholarly activities.
  • One-page statement of plans for remainder of the doctoral program with detailed timeline including information pertaining to research direction(s) with topics, doctoral and substantive comp exams' actual or proposed dates and grades, prospectus topic and date, proposed chair and committee members; if ABD, dissertation topic, date prospectus defended, and proposed date of dissertation completion; chair, committee members.
  • For each student, at least one faculty member must agree to supervise the student through the completion of the Ph.D. in Sociology, and at least three other faculty members must agree to serve on the student's dissertation committee. This will be done in two separate blind ballots of the full faculty for each non-ABD student. The first ballot will assess willingness of faculty to serve as the student's dissertation chair, and the second will assess willingness of faculty to serve on the student's dissertation committee. If a student fails to achieve at least one vote on the first ballot, and at least four votes on the second ballot, they will be terminated from the program. For ABD students, the faculty will review your timely progress towards completion of your dissertation. Failure to make progress may preclude funding.

Substantive Comprehensive Review Paper

The substantive review paper will assess students' ability to think and write critically about a subfield within Sociology. Students should select the area on which they will write based on their expected dissertation topic. In so doing, the review paper functions to prepare the student for the dissertation and the review paper committee may function as the basis of the dissertation committee, to which additional members will be added later. Typically, the chair of the review paper committee becomes the chair of the dissertation committee. In selecting an area and organizing the relevant literature, students should first identify the area they are interested in studying, clarifying their dissertation research topic, and investigate historical/developmental issues in that area, key theoretical perspectives, early and contemporary debates, and trends indicating the state of the field. Faculty may provide broad orienting questions to help the student engage the literature.

In consultation with the chair, a second faculty member will be identified and invited to join the committee. The student will develop a reading list under the guidance of the committee. Each committee member will have the opportunity to suggest changes to the reading list; however, this must be done in time to allow the student to complete the review paper as planned. A final approved reading list must be completed and given to each member of the committee at least one month prior to writing the review paper (the date of which should be agreed upon and deposited with the Coordinator of Graduate Studies). An ideal time to begin constituting the committee and compiling the reading list is in the spring after the Doctoral Comprehensive Exam. This process may take as long as the semester, but need not. Students should read and understand all relevant readings and then complete the review paper. Once the student is ready, they give the start date for the writing period to the Coordinator of Graduate Studies. The writing period is 30 days.

Students should write the review paper early enough in a semester to allow faculty four regular semester weeks to grade it before the end of term. Alternatively, students may write it over one month in the summer or winter break and the faculty committee will evaluate the review paper in the first month of the subsequent semester. The review paper should be approximately 40 written pages (exclusive of references). At the end of the month, the review paper should be turned in to the Coordinator of Graduate Studies who will attach a cover sheet and distribute it to the committee. Completing the paper in the spring or by start of fall in the year after the doctoral exam is recommended. This timeline is designed to give the student ample time to write and defend a dissertation proposal so that they may be eligible for faculty nomination for the DRA (Dissertation Research Assistantship) in early spring.

The faculty committee will have up to four regular semester weeks to read, assess, and grade the review paper (faculty are not expected to grade review papers over breaks). The committee members will turn in comments to the Director of Graduate Studies, who will then give copies to the student. At the discretion of the grading faculty, the student may be asked to defend the review paper orally before a passing grade is awarded. Outcomes include: High Pass, Pass, Revisions, or Fail. A final copy of the approved review paper should be deposited with the Graduate Secretary before the end of the semester.

In the event that revisions are required, the student has one month to complete said revisions. If revisions are necessary, committee members will likely meet with the student to offer guidance. If committee members disagree on whether the student has completed a satisfactory paper, a third faculty will grade the review paper. An oral defense of the revised paper may also be required at the faculty's discretion. Students who fail the review paper will be dismissed from the program.

IMPORTANT: Students are also required to demonstrate their mastery of a second area through two or more of the following: taking seminars (e.g., earning a certificate and/or emphasis), teaching undergraduate courses, writing for a scholarly audience (presenting and especially publishing) and appropriate demonstration in the dissertation. The chair of the student's dissertation as well as at least one other faculty with expertise in that area may discuss student's competence in this area in a letter of reference.


The dissertation is the single most important requirement for the Ph.D. in Sociology degree, and the student should start thinking about potential dissertation topics soon after admission. Information concerning Graduate School requirements regarding the dissertation is contained in the Graduate Catalog.

After completing both comprehensive examinations, in consultation with the Coordinator of Graduate Studies, the student selects a dissertation chair. In consultation with the dissertation chair, the student selects a committee consisting of four additional graduate faculty members, including one from outside of the Sociology program. Students selecting the Criminology/Deviance/Criminal Justice option may have committee members from the Criminology and Criminal Justice program who serve as either inside or outside members. Exceptions to this committee membership will be granted in only limited circumstances. Normally, students are encouraged to use the two members of their substantive comprehensive examination committee as the initial members of the dissertation committee with one serving as chair. The Coordinator of Graduate Studies must submit the committee roster to the Graduate School for approval prior to the scheduling of the prospectus defense.

Students may change the composition of the committee if necessary. First, the student must find a dissertation chair, who must first agree to serve and who must also be a member of the Graduate Faculty. Second, the student must identify the remaining members of the committee. Five committee members are needed, and at least one must be from outside of the Sociology program. After discussion with current chair/members and new/potential members, students may reconstitute a dissertation committee prior to the dissertation defense. Notification of the new members and chair is needed in writing to the Director of Graduate Studies who must submit the new roster.

The student then prepares a detailed dissertation prospectus, showing clearly the purpose and scope of the research, its relation to the previous work in the field, its theoretical relevance and significance, and the research methods and techniques. The prospectus must contain a section documenting the student's training and abilities in using the proposed research methods and techniques. The dissertation committee will have at least two weeks to read the prospectus before the formal session. During summer months, students should consult with all committee members prior to arranging for any hearings. The prospectus must be approved by the dissertation committee in a formal session and filed in the graduate program office. A prospectus must be approved no later than the end of the full-time student's sixth semester in the Ph.D. in Sociology program for students with an SIU M.A. in Sociology and 8th semester for those with an external M.A. in Sociology. Failure to do so may preclude funding.

Dissertation Defense

The completed dissertation must be acceptable to the chair of the dissertation committee before being circulated among committee members for evaluation. After acceptance of the dissertation by the candidate's dissertation chair, an oral examination will be conducted by the committee in an open meeting, as specified by Graduate School regulations. This examination will be based upon the contents and implications of the dissertation. The examination should not be scheduled sooner than four weeks after the completed dissertation has been distributed to the dissertation committee. A public announcement and a copy of the dissertation shall be made available to other faculty of the program at least one week before the examination. Upon satisfactory completion of the oral examination, the student must follow the Graduate School rules for submission and subsequently submit a suitably bound copy to the program or school library.


  1. Students will complete their Substantive Comprehensive Exam in the area of concentration.
  2. Students' dissertations will be on a topic related to the area of concentration.


Students' substantive comprehensive exam committees will have at least one sociology faculty member. Students' dissertation committees will have at least two sociology faculty members who are members of the Graduate Faculty.


Prior to the appointment of the dissertation chair, faculty advisors for Ph.D. in Sociology students should be sociology faculty members.

Crime/Deviance/Criminal Justice Emphasis

A student who has been admitted to the Ph.D. in Sociology program, and whose major interest is in the area of crime, criminology, or criminal justice may want to incorporate the following courses, expectations, and committee guidelines into her/his program of study to form an emphasis in the field:

Required Courses:

  • CCJ 500: Foundations of Criminal Justice
  • CCJ 504: Criminological Theory -OR-
  • SOC 572: Seminar in Criminology

Two additional 500-level courses, from the following:

  • SOC 562: Seminar in the Sociology of Deviance and Social Control
  • SOC 530: Topical Seminar in Sociology (when topic is relevant)
  • CCJ 540: Seminar in Theory and Practice of Crime Prevention
  • CCJ 550: Seminar in Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
  • CCJ 562: Law and Social Control
  • CCJ 571: Seminar in Punishment and Corrections
  • CCJ 576: Policy Analysis in CCJ
  • CCJ 584: Administration and Management in Criminal Justice
  • CCJ 587: Seminar in Policing
  • CCJ 592: Advanced Seminar in Criminology and Criminal Justice
Note: One of the four courses required for the concentration must be a sociology course.

Sociology as a Secondary Emphasis in Another Ph.D. Degree Program

A student who is enrolled in another Ph.D. degree program and who wishes to declare Sociology as a secondary area must submit to the Director of Graduate Studies a written request which includes the following: a plan of course work, a personal reading list, and an overall program statement indicating the relationship of the area in sociology to the student's total program.

Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Sociology Degree Program

Students who have been admitted to the Ph.D. in Sociology program, and who wish to develop an interdisciplinary program, should review the guidelines set forth by the Graduate School. The Dean of the Graduate School approves interdisciplinary Ph.D. degree programs only when they bear the endorsement of a program that offers a Ph.D. degree. A student who wishes to apply for an interdisciplinary program, in which Sociology will be the sponsoring program, should understand that the program of study must include substantial involvement in Sociology courses and seminars, and that the program may require the student to meet other requirements similar to those established for the Ph.D. in Sociology program.

Certificate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

A student interested in a post-baccalaureate certificate in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) should contact the WGSS coordinator and/or cross-listed Sociology faculty for the required courses and guidelines. The program encourages Sociology of gender/sexuality students to pursue the certificate and doing so works well within the doctoral program, especially if one course is taken during the M.A. in Sociology program.

M.A. in Sociology and Ph.D. in Sociology students who wish to incorporate the certificate requirements into their program of study may do so.

Note: One of the courses required for the certificate must be a sociology course.