Social Sciences Building, Room 401
The graduate program in sociology at the University of California, San Diego is organized on the basis of programs of specialization in comparative and historical sociology, the sociology of culture, social inequalities, and science, technology, and medicine. It is designed to prepare students for two main goals: to contribute to the increase of knowledge about societies and thereby advance the discipline of sociology; and to teach sociology at the graduate and undergraduate levels. The majority of graduates from the program find teaching and research positions in colleges and universities, although some also work in non-academic research and social policy positions. The department offers a course of study leading to the doctor of philosophy degree. While the master of arts degree is awarded as a step toward the completion of the PhD, applicants seeking only an MA degree are not accepted.
Departmental Research and Teaching
Members of the department are engaged in a wide variety of research and teaching activities that fall into four broad areas of concentration that correspond to our programs of specialization. Much of the research carried out by departmental students and faculty is distinguished by unique intersections of these areas.
Comparative and Historical Sociology
Many members of our faculty have research interests in the historical and/or comparative analysis of social institutions, structures, and processes, and social change in general. Using methods of comparative historical research and concepts drawn from social theory, individual faculty are engaged in research on, among other things: (1) political sociology, including revolution, social and political movements, and the evolution of the modern state, (2) economic transformation in contemporary societies (industrial countries, emerging markets, and agrarian societies), including the labor process, stratification and the organization of work, and the development of market economies, (3) collective identities and social relations, including nationalism, class, gender, race, and ethnicity, and (4) social control and institutionalization. The department is among the most internationally oriented departments of sociology in the world, with specialists in most regions of the world, including Eastern and Western Europe, the former Soviet Union, Japan, China, southern Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, as well as the United States.
Sociology of Culture
A great number of the faculty have research and teaching interests in the sociology of culture broadly conceived. Sociology of culture involves topics such as: (1) the interpretation of the symbol systems that constitute meaningful resources for social action, (2) the analysis of the processes through which patterns of meaning are socially reproduced, and (3) the study of the interaction between culture change and social change. Many faculty have an interest in the comparative study of cultural traditions around the world. Others are interested in the relationship of culture to social movements and collective identities. And some see the sociology of culture not simply as a subdiscipline but as a general theoretical perspective on social experience. More specific substantive interests include sociology of knowledge and intellectuals, political culture, the culture of work, education and socialization, comparative moral cultures, the cultural dimensions of ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and popular culture.
Sociology of Social Inequalities
A large number of departmental faculty have expertise in the study of social inequalities, including those based on distinctions of gender, race, ethnicity, class, language, citizenship, and sexuality. Unique to our program are (1) focus on the processes by which social distinctions and identities are themselves constructed, represented, and maintained over time, (2) comprehensive training in both qualitative and quantitative approaches to studying inequality, (3) emphasis on international and historical inequality research, and (4) expertise in social movements as products of and challenges to inequality. Many members of the department study inequalities in workplaces, schools, markets, states, families, politics, law, and medicine.
Sociology of Science, Technology, and Medicine
A substantial fraction of the faculty has research and teaching interests focused on the interrelationships between science, technology, and medicine and modern society. Drawing on a range of sociological and historical methodologies, individual faculty are engaged in research on science and social movements, scientists and the state, biomedicine, the social history of madness and psychiatry, the historical sociology of scientific knowledge and practice, and sociological approaches to the Scientific Revolution. (For information on the interdisciplinary Science Studies Program, see below “Interdisciplinary Programs of Study.”)
Admission to the graduate program in sociology is open to students with excellent undergraduate records in any field. Some previous work in sociology or the social and behavioral sciences is advisable, but not required. New students are admitted in the fall quarter of each academic year. A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university is a prerequisite for admission to the graduate program. Prospective applicants should submit the official online application for admission and awards (same form), one set of official transcripts from each institution attended after high school, official scores from the Graduate Record Examination, application fee, at least three letters of recommendation, and one or more samples of the applicant’s own writing, such as a term paper. Additionally, foreign applicants must submit official scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and the Test of Written English (TWE). Applicants are encouraged to contact and communicate with the department to talk with faculty and graduate students. The application deadline is January 4, of each year.
Program of Study
The graduate programs in the University of California system work under the “normative time” standard. Normative time refers to the time period in which students, under normal circumstances, are expected to complete their requirements for the PhD degree. Each department establishes a normative time for its doctoral program, and for the Department of Sociology, as for most graduate programs in the university, it is six years.
Students are required to enroll as full-time graduate students, to carry a minimum enrollment of twelve units of graduate-level courses each quarter, and to maintain a grade point average of 3.0 or better.
Theory and Methods Requirements
Students take almost all the courses on theory and methods in their first year in the program. They are required to take two courses in classical sociological theory (Sociology 201A/B) and one in contemporary theory (Sociology 202), two in quantitative methods (Sociology 205 and 206), and two in qualitative methods (from among Sociology 203, Field Methods; Sociology 204, Text and Discourse Analysis; or Sociology 207, Comparative-Historical Methods). In addition, students enroll in a two-credit introduction to the faculty and their research (Sociology 208). Note: Sociology 208 is in addition to other requirements.
The remaining theory and methods requirements are Sociology 252 and 253, a two-quarter practicum sequence, which will be taken in the fall quarters of the second and third year. In these courses, students will complete a piece of research they have started in a previous seminar, write a paper, and revise it for submission to a journal. The emphasis in the first quarter will be on the completion of the research for this project, and the second quarter will focus on the writing of the results and revision of drafts.
These are survey courses in major substantive fields. Students must take three out of the following eight, which the department offers regularly: Sociology 264, Economic Sociology; Sociology 226, Political Sociology; Sociology 216, Sociology of Culture; Sociology 234, Intellectual Foundations of the Study of Science, Technology, and Medicine; Sociology 212, Social Stratification; Sociology 267, Sociology of Gender; Sociology 244, Sociology of Race and Ethnicity; and Sociology 222, Social Movements. These are major areas of sociology and fields in which several of the members of our faculty specialize. Moreover, several of these seminars serve as introductions to the programs of specialization on which the program is based (see below).
Beyond these requirements, students must take four seminars, at least two of which must be in the program of specialization selected by the student. In total, sixteen graduate courses, plus the introduction to the faculty, are required for advancing to candidacy.
The Programs of Specialization
The department currently offers specialized PhD programs in comparative and historical sociology, sociology of culture, sociology of social inequalities, and the sociology of science, technology, and medicine. Affiliation to the clusters is voluntary and non-exclusive, and the department encourages multiple participation and joint activities among the groups. Students could qualify in more than one concentration, if they wish, and they will not be required to specialize in any one of them (although we are confident that most will find it advantageous to do so). The curriculum for each specialization is relatively light, in order to provide students with a solid common background in theory and methods, and allow for as much interface as possible between the programs. The requirements are: appropriate qualitative methods courses, one of the core seminars (see above) in areas relevant for the concentration, two specialized seminars, pertinent specialties for the field examination, and the dissertation.
The qualitative methods requirement varies according to the program of specialization. Students who concentrate in comparative and historical sociology must take Sociology 207, Comparative-Historical Methods. For sociology of culture, Sociology 203, Field Methods, is required. Students specializing in social inequalities should take at least one of the following courses: Sociology 203, Field Methods; Sociology 204, Text and Discourse Analysis; or Sociology 207, Comparative-Historical Methods. Finally, students specializing in sociology of science, technology, and medicine must choose two of the following three courses in qualitative methods: Sociology 203, Field Methods; Sociology 204, Text and Discourse Analysis; and Sociology 207, Comparative–Historical Methods. The required core seminars are survey courses in major substantive fields. Students must take three out of the following eight, which the department offers regularly: Sociology 264, Economic Sociology; Sociology 226, Political Sociology; Sociology 216, Sociology of Culture; Sociology 234, Intellectual Foundations of the Study of Science, Technology, and Medicine; Sociology 212, Social Stratification; Sociology 267, Sociology of Gender; Sociology 244, Sociology of Race and Ethnicity; and Sociology 222, Social Movements. These are major areas of sociology and fields in which several of the members of our faculty specialize. Moreover, several of these seminars serve as introduction to the programs of specialization on which the program is based.
The core seminars required for each program of specialization are the following:
Sociology 264. Economic Sociology or
Sociology 226. Political Sociology, for comparative and historical sociology
Sociology 216. Sociology of Culture, for sociology of culture
Sociology 212. Social Stratification or
Sociology 244. Sociology of Race and Ethnicity or
Sociology 267. Sociology of Gender, for social inequalities
Sociology 234. Intellectual Foundations of the Study of Science, Technology, and Medicine, for sociology of science, technology, and medicine
All students are evaluated by the department faculty toward the end of the academic year. At the end of the student’s first year in the program, student performance is also evaluated by the Graduate Program Committee, including the director of Graduate Studies, the faculty teaching the core sequences, and by their faculty adviser. Students whose performance is satisfactory are allowed to continue the regular course of study; others may be asked to repeat some courses or to do additional course work; others may be asked to withdraw from the program. Evaluations are communicated to students in writing.
Second-Year Evaluation and the MA Degree
The master’s degree is earned as one of the requirements of the PhD and is based on the quality of the student’s course work described below. At the end of the second year, students are evaluated by the Graduate Program Committee for the master’s degree. At that time, the committee ascertains the student’s suitability for doctoral work.
The fifteen core courses required to receive the MA degree are
Sociology 201A. Classical Sociological Theory I
Sociology 201B. Classical Sociological Theory II
Sociology 202. Contemporary Sociological Theory
Sociology 205. Quantitative Methods I
Sociology 206. Quantitative Methods II
Sociology 252. Research Practicum I
Two courses chosen from
Sociology 203. Field Methods
Sociology 204. Text and Discourse Analysis
Sociology 207. Comparative-Historical Methods
Three seminars from
Sociology 212. Social Stratification
Sociology 216. Sociology of Culture
Sociology 222. Social Movements
Sociology 226. Political Sociology
Sociology 234. Intellectual Foundation of the Study of Science, Technology, and Medicine
Sociology 244. Sociology of Race and Ethnicity
Sociology 264. Economic Sociology
Sociology 267. Sociology of Gender
Three elective sociology graduate seminars.
One may be outside the department and may be taken S/U.
At the beginning of the spring quarter of their second year in the program or at the beginning of the quarter in which they wish to be considered, students must submit to the committee for evaluation three papers they have written for seminars taught by different faculty. Reviewers assess the quality of the overall record and determine whether it indicates a potential for conducting doctoral research.
The final decision regarding the MA degree is based on the student’s GPA, the three papers, and yearly faculty evaluations. The committee makes one of the following three recommendations: pass, MA only, and non-pass. Pass means that students may proceed toward the PhD. Those given MA only evaluations are granted the degree but may not continue toward the PhD. Students who received non-pass evaluations are asked to withdraw without a graduate degree.
Students admitted for a PhD with a master’s degree in sociology may not be candidates for a second master’s degree.
The Field Examination
In the quarter in which students expect to finish the theory and methods requirements, the three core seminars, and the six elective seminars, students become eligible to take the field examination. This examination must be completed by the end of the student’s third year in the program. The object of the field examination is to demonstrate mastery of two established, broad, and distinct fields of sociological inquiry, selected from a list of fields provided by the department. The examination is carried out by a faculty committee composed of no fewer than four departmental faculty, one of whom serves as chair. The choice of fields and the composition of the committee must be approved by the Graduate Program Committee before the student starts preparing for the exam. Faculty from departments other than sociology may be added (or, if necessary, substituted) by petition to the Graduate Program Committee.
The demonstration of mastery has both written and oral components. The written part consists of two papers, one in each field, and a course syllabus for a course they would teach in one of the two fields in which they take their orals. In these papers, students are expected to demonstrate a grasp of key issues and debates, and of the broad, conceptual history of the field. These reviews are based on a bibliography drawn up by the student in consultation with relevant committee members and other faculty in each field. Students are expected to know the central arguments of all the books and papers in the bibliographies, regardless of the extent to which these books and articles have been used in the papers. Field papers must be a minimum of thirty and a maximum of fifty pages each, exclusive of notes and should include at least twenty to thirty books or article equivalents. The two bibliographies may not significantly overlap, either in literature surveyed or in specific titles. The papers, the bibliographies, and the syllabus must be submitted to the committee at least two weeks before orals, or the orals cannot go forward.
The oral part lasts two hours and covers both fields. It is given by the examining committee, sitting as a whole, and is based on the bibliographies, papers, and course syllabus submitted by the student. The exam does not focus on the papers, but on the students’ knowledge of the fields. Following the oral examination, the committee evaluates the student on the basis of both the written and the oral components of the examination. Possible grades are high pass, pass, conditional pass, and no pass. High pass recognizes exceptional performance. Conditional pass indicates that the committee has passed the student pending the completion of additional work. Students receiving a grade of no pass will have an opportunity to retake the examination, should they so desire, no later than the end of the subsequent quarter. Students electing not to retake the examination or receiving a grade of no pass a second time will be asked to withdraw from the graduate program.
Students will have to constitute their field exam committee two months before the proposed date of the exam. Once the committee is constituted it can be changed only if a faculty member becomes unavailable. Students will have to submit one copy per member of a substantial draft of their field papers one month in advance to the graduate coordinator, who then distributes them to the committee members. Faculty, in turn, will commit to read and comment on the papers in two weeks time.
All papers (as opposed to the drafts) and the syllabus must be submitted to the committee two weeks before the fields.
The Dissertation Prospectus and Hearing
The central intellectual activity leading to the award of the PhD degree is the doctoral dissertation: an original contribution to knowledge, based on substantial, original research on a topic of intellectual significance within the field of sociology.
Following successful completion of the field examination, the student establishes a doctoral committee to supervise dissertation research. This is a five-person committee, including three faculty from within the department and two from other departments within the university. The committee should include the faculty members whose fields of expertise make them most appropriate for supervising the students’ research. The student approaches the faculty member he or she would like to include, but the committee must be approved by the director of Graduate Studies and the department chair before the student starts working on the prospectus. The composition of the committee may or may not overlap with the committee that carried out the field examination. If the student elects to have a six member committee, the sixth member has all the same obligations as the other committee members.
By the end of the spring quarter of the fourth year in the department, the student must have a dissertation prospectus approved by his or her doctoral committee. The dissertation prospectus is a document that presents the research topic of the dissertation, places it in the context of the relevant literature, discusses its significance, specifies and justifies the methods the student intends to use, establishes the feasibility of the research, and indicates the anticipated steps leading to completion.
Following submission of the dissertation prospectus, the student must defend it at a hearing before the doctoral committee. The purpose of the hearing is to certify that the prospectus is significant and feasible, that the research design is appropriate, and that the student is prepared to carry it out successfully. Based on the written prospectus and the hearing, the committee may choose to approve the prospectus or to ask for revisions and resubmission. The prospectus hearing serves, in effect, as a qualifying examination, and approval of the dissertation prospectus is the final step to advancement to candidacy for the PhD degree.
Students will have to constitute their dissertation committee three months before the proposed date of the exam. Once the committee is constituted it can be changed only if a faculty member becomes unavailable. Students will have to submit one copy per member of a substantial draft of their prospectus one month in advance to the graduate coordinator, who then distributes them to the committee members. Faculty, in turn, will commit to read and comment on the papers in two weeks time.
The Doctoral Dissertation
Upon approval of the dissertation prospectus, the student proceeds with dissertation research. Students are expected to consult with committee members as the research progresses and to keep the committee chair advised of progress made.
Once the dissertation is substantially completed and committee members have had the opportunity to review drafts of the written work, the committee meets at least one month before the defense takes place, with or without the student present, to consider the progress made and to identify concerns, changes to be made, or further work to be done. Once the committee members are substantially satisfied with the written work, the student, in consultation with the committee, schedules the oral defense of the dissertation. By university regulation, this defense is open to the public.
The final version of the dissertation must be approved by each member of the doctoral committee. All members of the committee must be present at the defense. Exceptions may be made only under very restrictive conditions. Further, the student must consult with the Office of Graduate Studies to be told of appropriate requirements for the thesis to be filed. Having obtained this approval and successfully defended the dissertation in oral examination, the student is eligible to receive the PhD degree. The final version of the dissertation is then filed with the university librarian via the Office of Graduate Studies. Acceptance of the dissertation by the university librarian is the final step in completing all requirements for the PhD.
PhD Time Limit Policies
Students must be advanced to candidacy by the end of four years (PCTL—Precandidacy Time Limit). Normative time is six years. Total university financial support (SUTL—Support Time Limit) cannot exceed seven years. Total registered (TRTL—Total Registered Time Limit) time at UC San Diego cannot exceed eight years.
Sociology of Science, Technology, and Medicine and the Science Studies Program
Students interested in the interrelationships between science, technology, and medicine (STM) and the larger social order can opt for one of two specialized programs of study. The first of these is undertaken wholly within the department (see above). The second approach is to seek admission to the Science Studies Program, a joint doctoral program that brings together graduate students from the Departments of Sociology, History, Philosophy, and Communication. Students in the program pursue a cross-disciplinary curriculum leading to dissertation research in the sociology of science, technology, or medicine, broadly conceived. Sociology faculty affiliated with this program have research interests across the broad spectrum of science studies, from the philosophy and history of science to the organization of scientific discovery and the culture of specific work.
Students may seek admission to the Science Studies Program at the same time they apply for admission to the Department of Sociology, or may, in certain circumstances, request to be accepted into the program at some point after entering the University of California, San Diego. The requirements of the Science Studies Program are similar to those of the standard graduate program. However, there are some distinct curricular requirements in the first two years of the program, as well as some distinct emphases in the qualifying examination. The core of the program is a two-quarter team-taught seminar sequence taken in the first year, the first quarter being an interdisciplinary introduction to science studies and the second quarter (or core seminar) being devoted to special topics in science studies which vary from year to year.
For details on the Science Studies Program, including information about requirements, write to the University of California, San Diego, Coordinator, Science Studies Program, 9500 Gilman Dr. # 0104, La Jolla, CA 92093-0104; or telephone the program coordinator at (858) 534-0491. Visit their website: http://sciencestudies.ucsd.edu.
Interdisciplinary Program in Sociology and Cognitive Science
This program allows students to earn a PhD in sociology and cognitive science. Students must complete all the regular sociology requirements. In addition, they take six cognitive science seminars and select a dissertation committee composed of three Sociology and three Cognitive Science Program faculty. Admission to this program requires a separate application and is contingent on acceptance into the Department of Sociology. For more information, contact the coordinators in the Department of Sociology, (858) 534-4626, or the Cognitive Science Department, (858) 534-7141. Please view our website for application and department handbook information: http://sociology.ucsd.edu.