Through classwork, research opportunities, and active mentoring, graduate students in the Department of Sociology’s doctoral program receive extensive training in both classical and cutting edge theory and methods. Students are encouraged to pursue interesting and important research topics in creative and innovative ways. The doctoral program, the second oldest in the College of Liberal Arts and the highest ranked (94th) in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Grad Schools, awarded its first Ph.D. in 1992. Since then, our doctoral graduates have secured tenure-track professorships at universities across the country, as well as visiting and permanent adjunct/instructor positions and prestigious government and industry roles including state agency officials, university administrative directors, institutional research fellows, corporate executives, and a Las Vegas city councilman and mayor pro tem. Click on the links below to see the full list of sociology’s doctoral alumni and their professional outcomes, as well as the USNWR listing.
The Department of Sociology offers a PhD in sociology, either for students coming directly from their bachelor’s (“Fast Track”), in which an MA is awarded en route, or for students who already have a master’s. The department does not offer a terminal MA degree.
In order to be eligible to apply for either program, students should:
- Be able to provide evidence of your ability to do graduate-level work based upon past academic performance, GRE scores, motivation, character, professional goals, and promise for success. In addition to your grades and test scores, these can be addressed in your statement of interest and letters of recommendation, preferably from faculty members who can speak to your ability to do graduate-level work.
- Have a minimum undergraduate grade point average of 3.00.
- Have satisfactory scores on the Graduate Record Examination (the general exam, not the specific sociology exam). We have no minimum score. However, the higher your score, the better your chances of admission. Keep in mind that when we are making admission decisions we look at your entire record for evidence of potential to successfully complete a competitive and rigorous graduate program.
If you already have a master’s, the admissions process will take into account (1) if your degree was in sociology, and/or if you have a strong background in sociological theory, research methods, and statistics. And (2) if you have a thesis or significant evidence of research/analytical skills in samples of other work. Overall, we want to make sure you can excel in our rigorous core courses in these areas. If you want to make sure you are up to speed, you may enroll as a "non-admitted graduate student" in SOC 621 Classical Theory, SOC 622 Modern Sociological Theory, SOC 603 Techniques of Social Research, or SOC 604 Statistical Methods for the Social Sciences. Please keep in mind these courses will not be counted in your graduate degree program once you are admitted. Also, see the Graduate College statement on "Evidence of Adequate Preparation."
These are the minimum requirements. Admission to the program is competitive and we only admit a limited number of students each year.
Areas of Specialization
In addition to core required courses in theory and methods, we have eight areas of substantive specialization for research and teaching. The areas of specialization (AOS) are listed below:
- Deviance & Criminology
- Environment & Health
- Family, Aging & the Life Course
- Gender & Sexuality
- Politics & Social Movements
- Race & Ethnic Studies
- Social Psychology & Theory
- Urban & Community Studies
- Population & Demography Studies.
Students must declare two areas of specialization and complete a minimum of three-credits of 600- or 700-level courses in each area. Doctoral students take their specialty area comprehensive exams in each of their declared AOS.
In addition to the admission requirements already listed, applicants who are citizens of a country where English is not the native language must show competency in the English language. As part of your application you must take the "Test of English as a Foreign Language" (TOEFL) and receive a minimum score of 550 on the written or 213 on the computerized test; you must also take the Test of Written English. International applicants also must submit a completed financial statement and satisfy the financial eligibility requirements before your credentials can be reviewed.
If your bachelor's degree is not in sociology, you should have a minimum of 18 credit hours in undergraduate sociology courses. In evaluating "equivalent" courses we look for a good background in sociological theory, research methods, and statistics. We want to make sure you can excel in our rigorous graduate-level core courses in these areas. If you need to get up to speed, you may enroll as a "non-admitted graduate student" in SOC 421 Classical Theory, SOC 422 Modern Sociological Theory, SOC 403 Techniques of Social Research, or SOC 404 Statistical Methods for the Social Sciences. Please note that because these courses address deficiencies in your preparation for graduate school, they will not be counted in your graduate degree program once you are admitted. If you have any questions, contact the graduate coordinator. Also see the Graduate College statement on "Evidence of Adequate Preparation."
Dr. Barbara Brents