Students begin graduate study in the master's program and enter the doctoral program once they have fulfilled the requirements for the M.A. degree. The master's program takes two years to complete and provides a basis for advanced study, both in coursework and in experience conducting original research.
See the graduate handbook for full details on the graduate program.
The master’s degree requires a total of 31 units of credit for 500/600 level courses offered by faculty in the School of Sociology. You should indicate the courses you intend to apply toward the master’s degree on your M.A. Plan of Study form in GradPath. This should be done in consultation with the advisor during your first year (and can be updated as needed).
Students will typically take more than the 31 units required for the M.A. during the two years of enrollment in the master’s program. M.A.-level students receiving support from the school are required to enroll in at least 9 units of credit per semester, that is, 36 units over four semesters. Two additional one-unit courses will bring the total earned during the first two years to 38 units.
- Complete five required courses (13 units)
Waiving Course Requirements
A particular core course can be waived if (1) you have taken the course or its equivalent in graduate work elsewhere with a grade of B or better, (2) you has a 3.5 average in all graduate courses in sociology taken elsewhere, and (3) an Arizona faculty member designated by the DGS attests to these facts and so informs the DGS in writing.
Waiver of the statistics requirements (570a and 570b) also requires passing a written exam.
Waiver of a required course does not reduce the total number of credits required to receive the degree; rather the waived course can be substituted with an additional elective course in sociology.
The additional 18 units of credit applied toward the M.A. minimum requirements normally will be restricted to 500- or 600-level courses in Sociology. Elective course work typically provides the basis for the student's master's paper, which is based on original research and suitable for publication in a professional sociology journal.
Eligible courses are subject to the following restrictions.
- Some courses listed at the 500-level in the Graduate Catalog are co-convened undergraduate/graduate courses (also listed at the 300 or 400 level). Credit for such courses cannot count toward the M.A.
- Courses from other departments at University can only be applied toward the M.A. with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies, in writing, prior to registration for the course. Students should not assume that a course will automatically apply to the M.A. just because it was approved previously for another student. The DGS will consider the request holistically in light of the student’s master’s program of study and progress in the program.
- Transfer credits will normally be treated as extra-school electives, and should be applied toward the doctoral degree but not the M.A .degree. The DGS will consider requests to apply transfer courses toward the M.A. minimum credit requirements, but the course must be equivalent in rigor and substance to 500-level seminars offered by the School. When courses applied toward the M.A. are also applied toward the doctorate, such courses will count toward the 9-unit total maximum of combined extra-school credit that can satisfy doctoral program requirements.
The following two courses are strongly recommended but not required, and may be applied toward minimum unit requirements for the M.A.
- 596c, a 1-unit teaching seminar, is not required for the M.A. but is required for the Ph.D. You are strongly encouraged to take it during the second year in the M.A. program. To teach, you must both have an M.A. degree and have taken this course. Students are expected to be able to teach independently after advancement to the doctoral program.
- 696D, Research Practice Workshop, is a 3-unit seminar that can be taken during development of the M.A. paper and/or the dissertation proposal (the course can be repeated for credit, but only applied once toward minimum requirements for advancement to candidacy).
Master's Paper Requirement
The purpose of the master's paper is to demonstrate that you can meaningfully relate sociological theory and evidence. Therefore, the paper must contain both (a) a theoretical argument and (b) evidence (i.e., data or findings) that speaks to that argument. The paper should be journal-length (i.e., approximately 25 to 45 pages including references, figures, and tables), include a cover page and abstract, and be a self-contained piece of scholarship that is the original work of the author. The paper should be prepared in either ASA or Social Forces format (see current issues of the American Sociological Review or Social Forces).
The paper may be inductive or deductive in form, and may use any of the accepted types of sociological evidence, including but not limited to survey, archival, experimental, computer simulation, field observational, historical, or comparative case study methods. The paper may use original evidence collected by the author or an original analysis of secondary data, but should have been largely carried out by the student after beginning the master’s program.
Your M.A. committee will conduct an oral exam of the master's paper after the committee chair has judged it ready to defend. You must pass the oral examination to fulfill this requirement for the MA degree.
See the graduate handbook for more details on the Master's Paper.
Progressing to the Ph.D.
All coursework completed while enrolled in the master’s program may be applied toward the Ph.D. Therefore, students are advised to bear requirements of the doctoral program in mind as they select additional electives.