Ph.D. Requirements

The doctoral program typically requires 3 to 5 years beyond completion of the master's degree. You'll continue taking advanced coursework, take comprehensive examinations in two subfields of your choice, and complete your dissertation.

See the graduate handbook for full details on the graduate program.

Overall Requirements

The Graduate College requires doctoral students to complete coursework for both a “major” field and a “minor” field before advancement to candidacy for the doctoral degree (the major and minor field can be the same). All doctoral students admitted to the Ph.D. program will major in Sociology. Most will also minor in Sociology, but they can opt to minor in another department at the University of Arizona.

  • The major in Sociology requires 45 units of course credit.
  • The minor in Sociology requires 12 units of course credit. Requirements for minors in other fields are set by the department offering the field.

All units of required course credit for both the major and the minor must be completed before advancement to candidacy for the doctoral degree. You must also complete 18 units of dissertation credit (SOC 920).

Core Courses

All courses except for 595B will normally be taken during the first two years of study (while enrolled in the M.A. program, or immediately upon admission to the doctoral program for students with a Sociology M.A. from another university). SOC 595B should be taken during the fall semester of the third year.

  • SOC 500A: Sociological Theory (3 units)
  • SOC 570A: Social Statistics I (3 units)
  • SOC 570B: Social Statistics II (3 units)
  • SOC 575: Social Research Methods (3 units)
  • SOC 595A: Graduate Study in Sociology (1 unit)
  • SOC 596C: Teaching Seminar (1 unit)
  • SOC 596B: Presentation Seminar (1 unit)

See the M.A. Requirements for more details.

Graduate Seminars

Minimum of 12 credits from elective substantive seminars (four 3- credit courses). Select from:

  • SOC 505: World-System Theory and Research
  • SOC 508: Culture
  • SOC 510: Political Sociology
  • SOC 514: State and Social Policy
  • SOC 515: Social Movements
  • SOC 520: Sociology of Health & Medicine
  • SOC 525: Organizational Theory
  • SOC 527: Social Network Analysis
  • SOC 530: Structure, Action, Identity
  • SOC 534: Environmental Sociology
  • SOC 535: Environmental Inequality and Justice
  • SOC 551: Stratification and Class
  • SOC 553: Family
  • SOC 555: Gender and Society
  • SOC 557: Gender and Labor Markets
  • SOC 560: Race and Ethnicity
  • SOC 565: Work and Professions
  • SOC 583: Law, Politics, and Inequality
  • SOC 587: Economic Sociology
  • SOC 600: Sociology of Knowledge
  • SOC 596F: Theory and Research on the Nonprofit Sector
  • SOC 596A (various, including: Comparative Political Economy; Advanced Topics in the Family; Laws and Society; Sociology of Knowledge; Advanced Topics in Organizational Analysis).

The Director of Graduate Students will announce additional courses for satisfying this requirement from time to time. Courses in fulfillment of this requirement must be taken in the school (transfer credits and cross-listed courses based in other units do not apply).

It is recommended you take courses in areas that will prepare you for comprehensive examinations, but this is not required.

Advanced Methods and Statistics

Minimum of 3 credits of elective advanced methods and statistics seminars (one 3-unit course), selected from the following list:

  • SOC 511: Formal Models of Cultural Analysis
  • SOC 552: Advanced Topics and Methods in Stratification
  • SOC 526: Methods in Social Network Analysis
  • SOC 561: Programming for the Social Sciences
  • SOC 574C: Categorical Data Analysis
  • SOC 576: Field and Observational Methods

The DGS will announce additional courses for satisfying this requirement from time to time. Courses in fulfillment of this requirement must be taken in the school (transfer credits and cross-listed courses based in other units do not apply).

You are encouraged to take more than one advanced methods course. Additional methods seminars can be applied toward the additional 27 required elective credits described below.


Complete 27 units of additional elective credit, subject to the following restrictions (reduced to 15 for external minors, all of which must be within the school).

  • At least 18 additional units must be taken within the School of Sociology. Cross-listed courses based in other departments do not qualify as courses in the school (even if they have a SOC course number). Cross-listed courses based in Sociology do qualify.
  • Maximum of 9 units of credit combined of SOC 900 (Research Apprenticeship) and/or SOC 699 (Independent Study). We strongly encourage you to take SOC 900 research credits. These credits are for joint research with faculty that is NOT your M.A. or your dissertation.

    You are discouraged from taking Independent Study credit for purposes of studying for comps. Independent Study credits are appropriate if you are doing supervised reading and discussion with faculty members on topics for which we do not offer more formal course work.

  • Maximum of 3 units of credit from 696D can be applied toward minimum elective requirements for advancement to candidacy. Students who need to complete an M.A. in Sociology will normally take 696D in their second year, and this can be applied toward the Ph.D. They can repeat the course during preparation of the dissertation proposal, but this will normally be done in the fourth year, after advancement to candidacy. Students who enter directly into the doctoral program due to having an M.A. in sociology will normally not take the course in the second year, but may take it in the third year in lieu of another elective.

External & Transfer Credits

You can use a maximum of 12 credit combined external to the School of Sociology toward your degree requirements. This includes including:

  1. Graduate coursework in other units at the University of Arizona. This includes cross-listed courses based in another department, even if they have a SOC course number.
  2. Transferred graduate credit of any kind (maximum of 12 units and subject to approval by DGS)

Comprehensive Exam

Doctoral students must pass written comprehensive examinations in two areas within sociology and an oral examination covering both areas. Two areas are required for all sociology majors, regardless of the minor field. Students who elect to minor in another field outside of sociology will complete an additional written examination in the minor, in which case the minor field will also be covered during the general oral examination.

We expect that you complete the two written examinations and the oral examination by the spring semester of the third year in the graduate program.

See the graduate handbook for more details on the comprehensive exams. You'll also find reading lists in the graduate resources section.


The fourth year and beyond are dedicated to the dissertation, a monograph reporting your original research. You'll defend your dissertation before your Ph.D. Committee as the last step in the fulfillment of degree requirements. 

You are required to register for 18 units of dissertation credit (SOC 920) after advancement to candidacy. You should register in the section supervised by your advisor, even if you have not yet selected a chair or defended a proposal.

See the graduate handbook for dissertation requirements.