The MA Program

The MA Program requires two years of graduate study and is expected to lead onward to the PhD. Appropriate background for entry to the master's program includes courses in sociological theory, research methods, and statistics plus nine additional hours of coursework in sociology. Exceptionally qualified candidates (as evaluated from their GRE scores and other components of their application packages) with less background in sociology may be accepted into the program.


The MA degree requirements are based on the philosophy that the MA program should be broad in its orientation. Successful completion of the degree provides students with a background to enter the PhD program in sociology at LSU or elsewhere. Minimum course requirements are 36 hours of graduate work. Core courses (classical theories, methods, and two statistics courses) should be completed in the first year. See details concerning credit-hours and the course sequence under Graduate Course Requirements.

Students may be permitted to transfer some coursework at the graduate level from another institution. The maximum number of transfer credits depends upon each student’s situation.

After satisfying coursework requirements, a master's degree is conferred upon the completion of either an empirical research paper or a master’s thesis, to be defended in front of the student’s MA committee.

The student's MA Committee is composed of a minimum of three graduate faculty members from sociology department. 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 one of the committee members has to be a full graduate faculty (i.e., rank of Associate or Full Professor). If the student has a minor field, a representative from the minor department must also be on the committee.

Before the final semester (generally the spring semester of the second year), the student must decide whether s/he will write an empirical research paper or an MA thesis. Students who elect to write an MA thesis must take six hours of SOCL 8000 (MA Thesis Research), supervised by a faculty member who will serve as the chair of the student's committee. Students who elect to write an empirical research paper should not enroll in SOCL 8000, as this course is strictly for the thesis option. Student choosing the empirical research paper option may choose to take SOCL 8900 (Research in Sociology), but this is not a requirement. Students may also enroll in other graduate courses. The faculty member must agree to the content of the research paper or thesis before the student is permitted to enroll in the course. An oral examination is required in accordance with normal procedures of the Graduate School. MA degrees with empirical papers are considered “non-thesis degrees” by the Graduate School.

Final Exam for the MA Degree: Defense of Thesis or Empirical Paper

The final exam for the MA degree is the defense of the thesis or empirical paper. To graduate with a MA degree, the student must submit the following two documents to the Graduate School:

  • Application for Degree
  • Request for Master's Examination

Go to the Enrolled Student Forms page for these required forms.

Every student must consult the Director of Graduate Studies before turning in the Request for Master’s Examination form to avoid errors. The form must be submitted by the deadline (mid- to late January for Spring semester, mid- to late August for Fall semester, or early May and early June for Summer term). In addition, Request for Master's Examination form must be submitted three weeks prior to the date of the exam. The empirical paper or thesis must be submitted to the student's committee at least two weeks prior to its defense (Final Exam).

At the Final Exam, the committee chair or the graduate secretary has to prepare the Exam Results Form. In addition, for MA with Thesis only, Master's Examination and Thesis Report must be signed by the committee members. These forms need 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.

Annual Reports

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