Doctoral Program

Comprehensive Phase | Overview Phase | Dissertation Phase


Students who begin graduate study in this department without a master's degree enter the doctoral program only when they have fulfilled the requirements for the MA degree and have been recommended for doctoral study by their MA committee.

A student entering with prior graduate study from another institution may be approved for a transfer of up to six credits toward the requirements for the MA degree and up to 24 credits toward the PhD degree. A student who transfers 24 credits due to completion of a master's degree in sociology at another institution is not eligible to receive an MA degree in sociology from the University of Pittsburgh.

A student requesting exemption from one or more required courses must submit relevant course syllabi and other pertinent information to the department. The Graduate Committee will review the submitted materials to assess the petition for transferring credits towards departmental requirements.

The Department of Sociology is part of the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences (A&S) at the University of Pittsburgh. Students in Sociology are also bound by all of the rules and polices of A&S and the university. It is the student's responsibility to know these rules and polices.

Requirements for the PhD Degree

The timeline to PhD (PDF) outlines a sample plan for earning the PhD Degree.

For the PhD degree a student must earn 72 credits in approved graduate studies (less if credit is transferred from graduate study at another institution). This includes study for the MA degree. Study for the PhD comprises the following required and recommended courses and credits:

Research Design 3 Credits
Social Theory 3 Credits
Qualitative Methods 3 Credits
Quantitative Methods 3 Credits
Six Elective Sociology Courses 18 Credits
Two elective courses; these may include individualized Directed Study
and/or graduate courses in either Sociology or other departments
6 Credits
Master's Thesis 6 Credits
Faculty Development Seminar (required for solo teaching) 3 Credits
Comprehensive Examination Preparation (Recommended) 6 Credits
Overview of PhD (Recommended SOC 3902; Admission to PhD Candidacy) 6 Credits
Completion of Dissertation and Defense of Dissertation (Recommended) 12 Credits

Sequence of Studies for the PhD

Study for the PhD program, earning the MA on the way, may be sequenced as follows:

First Year

  • 2-3 Required Courses
  • 4-6 Electives
  • Proseminar

Second Year

  • 2-3 Required Courses
  • 2-4 Electives
  • Directed Study for MA (6 Credits)

Third Year

  • 4 Electives
  • Comp Exam Preparation (6 Credits)

Fourth Year

  • Directed Study for PhD
  • Overview of dissertation

Fifth Year

  • Full-Time Dissertation Study
  • Defense of Dissertation


Phases of Study for the PhD

There are three phases of advancing towards the PhD: