The PhD Program

The PhD program in sociology is designed to prepare the student for a career in sociology that combines both research and teaching in one or more areas of the discipline. A broad general knowledge of sociological theory and research methodology is required of all students. In addition, students should develop a strong specialty area and establish a research program in that area.

It is expected that students learn the skills necessary to produce valuable research and present its results. Typically this is done by developing a close working relationship with one or more faculty members and co-authoring research papers with them. In this way the student begins as an apprentice and finishes with a substantial research record. The goals of this apprenticeship include presenting papers at professional meetings, submitting papers to professional journals, and participating in the preparation of grant proposals for research funding.

The requirements in the right column are viewed as the milestones in terms of which student progress is evaluated. If accomplished in timely fashion, the student will merit continued funding. In the final two years the student is expected to gain experience teaching at the university level. 
 
Term Milestones
First Year, fall Coursework: Classical Theory (SOCL 7121), Methods (SOCL 7211), Statistics I (SOCL 7201), and Pro-seminar (SOCL 7903), for a total of 10 credit hours
First year, spring Statistics II (SOCL 7203) and two Electives,* for a total of 9 credit hours
Second year, fall In addition to nine hours of coursework: (1) Establish committee of three members, (2) Determine whether an empirical research paper or MA thesis will be written, and (3) Determine the content of the paper or thesis.
Second year, spring Nine hours of coursework, possibly including six hours of SOCL 8900 for the empirical research paper or six hours of SOCL 8000 for the MA thesis. Complete the empirical paper or thesis.
Third year, fall In addition to coursework, (1) Establish General Examination Committee of three members, (2) Determine whether the general exam will be a standard exam or an essay, and (3) Determine content of exam or essay.
Third year, spring In addition to Pro-seminar (7903) and coursework, general exam or review paper. 
Fourth year, fall Dissertation proposal
Fourth year, spring Writing dissertation

* Although not required for MA degrees, SOCL 7213 (6 credits) and SOCL 7131 (3 credits) are required for PhD degrees. It is recommended that these courses be completed early in the program.


Admission to the Ph.D Program

On completion of the empirical paper/thesis, the MA committee will assign a mark of Fail, Terminal Pass (Pass with a terminal MA degree), or Pass Plus (Pass with automatic admission to the PhD program). Students who pass with Terminal Pass cannot pursue further studies toward a PhD in Sociology from this department even if they had been admitted as “doctoral students” (who have the LSU Degree Code of PSOCL).

Students may be permitted to transfer credits at the graduate level from another institution. The maximum number of transfer credits depends upon each student’s situation. Also, students who received a master’s degree at another institution may request for exemption from the empirical research paper or MA thesis requirement after their first two semesters in the program. The student’s committee will review the student’s request (and have meeting with the student, if necessary) and notify the graduate director of their decision in writing. If approved, the student is exempt from the empirical research paper or MA thesis and awarded 6 hours of Research in Sociology (SOCL 8900) or MA Thesis (SOCL 8000).

Annual Reports

Graduate students, at the request of the graduate director, will submit an annual report summarizing their academic activities during the past year.

General Examination

During the semester in which all course requirements are being completed (not including Dissertation credits), the student is eligible to schedule the General Examination, though exceptions are made depending on the circumstances. The student will submit the Doctoral Degree Audit Form and Request for General Examination, which lists all courses s/he took during the degree program. Every student must consult the Director of Graduate Studies before turning in the forms to avoid errors. The Request for Doctoral Examination must be submitted three weeks prior to the date of the General Exam. The Graduate School will choose a Dean's Representative and notify the committee chair before the General Exam (oral defense) so that either the written exam or review paper is made available for him/her.
 

The general exam should enable Ph.D students to gain expertise in broad areas of sociology. Therefore, the reading list should be much broader in the coverage than the references of the student's Ph.D dissertation.

In consultation with the exam committee, the student may select either of two options to meet the requirement: a written examination or a review paper, as outlined below. Each requires an oral defense. For either option, it is recommended that the student and the entire committee agree on the area(s) of the exam, such as "Work and Family" or "Deviance and Mental Health."

Written Examination: For written examinations, students begin by selecting a target date for the exam and defense. In collaboration with a major professor and committee members, students create a reading list that helps organize their preparation for the exam. The exam will take up to eight hours, and will be all held during one day, or during two consecutive days. Once the exam and defense are completed, the committee will assign a pass/fail grade. In the event the student receives a failing grade, a second chance may be given at the discretion of the committee. The students should take no more than four months to prepare the readings and complete the written and oral exams.

Review Paper: Instead of the general exam, the student, with the approval of the advisor, may elect a paper option—see suggested guidelines below for procedure and content for the paper option. In the event the student fails the paper option, a second chance may be given, at the discretion of the committee. In that case, the student may be directed to take the written exam, as described above.

Procedure
• In collaboration with their major professor and committee members, students create an initial reading list covering broad areas of sociology, organized in terms of the sections of the proposed paper.
• The committee reviews the bibliography and suggests revisions. After revisions have been made, the student revises and distributes copies of the working bibliography to the committee.
• It is assumed that additional sources will be discovered in the course of writing and that they will be used and cited in the paper.

Content Guidelines
• This paper should be a critical review of the literature in the areas of sociology.
• It should present and analyze the development of concepts, theory, methodology, and substantive issues in the areas.
• It should both analyze and synthesize the literature that addresses various issues in the areas of sociology.
• The concluding section of the paper should: a) Summarize the major points made in the paper, and b) Provide evidence of the author’s own unique perspective on the areas and her/his projections of the direction(s) in which research in the areas might proceed.

At the General Exam, the committee chair or the graduate secretary has to prepare the Exam Results Form. Once the General Exam is finished, this form must be signed and submitted to the Graduate School.

Committee for the General Examination and Dissertation

The student's PhD Committee is composed of a minimum of three graduate faculty members from sociology department and the Dean's Representative (designated by the Graduate School upon General Exam application). The student may substitute one of them for a graduate faculty member from another department, if it is decided appropriate by the committee chair and approved by the departmental chair or graduate advisor. At least two of the three committee members (other than the Dean's Representative) have to be a full graduate faculty. If the student declares an official minor, a faculty member in the minor field must be included in the committee (in addition to the two sociology faculty members).

Dissertation Proposal

Before a PhD student begins the dissertation research, approval of a proposal by the dissertation committee is required. The student should submit the dissertation proposal to each of the committee members at least two weeks prior to a scheduled meeting with the committee. Members of the committee may approve the proposal, suggest changes in the proposal, or reject the proposal. After the committee has approved the proposal, one copy with an approval sheet signed by all committee members must be placed in the student's file. This must be done at least one semester before the final oral exam on the dissertation. Any major changes in the research design must be approved by all committee members.

 The proposal should generally include the following items:

1. Approval sheet and title page
2. Subject of the dissertation
3. Significance
4. Preliminary review of the literature
5. Conceptual statement of the problem--the hypotheses to be tested or empirical relationships to be examined with conceptual model (if appropriate).
6. Research procedure: a) Operationalization of concepts, b) Sampling design, c) Analytical techniques, d) Dummy tables
7. Timetable, including: when data are to be collected, when analysis and writing will be done, and target date for completion
8. General bibliography (ASR Style)

Final Examination: Defense of the Dissertation

To graduate with a Ph.D degree, the student must submit the following two documents to the Graduate School:

a. Application for Degree
 
b. Request for Doctoral Examination
 

Go to the Enrolled Student Forms page for required forms.

They must be submitted by the deadline (mid- to late January for Spring semester, mid- to late August for Fall semester, or early May to early June for Summer term). In addition, the doctoral exam must be scheduled at least three weeks after the Request is submitted. The dissertation itself must be distributed to all committee members (including a Dean's Representative assigned by the Graduate School) at least two weeks prior to the final examination. This committee should be composed of the same faculty members that approved the dissertation proposal, though this rule recognizes exceptions.
 
The final doctoral examination is an oral defense. At the final exam, the committee chair or the graduate secretary has to prepare the Exam Results Form and Doctoral Examination and Dissertation Report. The committee may render one of three decisions regarding the outcome of the exam:
• Passed: The candidate is recommended for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology.
• Failed: The student is not recommended for the continuance of study toward the degree.
• Probationary Continuance: The candidate is required to remedy certain deficiencies in knowledge and/or to do further work on the dissertation. At least one semester must elapse before the granting of the second examination. The outcome of the second examination is restricted to Pass or Fail.
 
The Exam Report needs to be submitted by mid-April or mid-November for the degree to be awarded at the end of the semester. Consult the Graduate School calendar to determine the latest possible date to file in order to graduate in a particular semester.