Graduate Program


2016-2017 Graduate Program Handbook


The department of Sociology at the University of Southern California offers graduate students a vibrant academic environment in a campus that is nestled in the midst of an exciting urban center. Our graduate students enjoy an exceptionally generous financial aid package. Upon graduation, our students take academic position in research universities, liberal arts colleges, and other academic institutions (to see recent placements, visit our alumni page).  The  department offers the Doctor of Philosophy degree. Our PhD students also receive the Master of Arts (M.A. degree) after successfully completing the qualifying examinations.   


Core Requirements

A minimum of 60 graduate units is necessary for the Ph.D., among which are the following 30 credits are required courses:
SOCI 510 Sociological Theory I
SOCI 511 Sociological Theory II
SOCI 520 Qualitative Research Methods
SOCI 521 Quantitative Methods and Statistics
SOCI 525 Sociology Proseminar: Approaches to Sociological Research
SOCI 593 Practicum in Teaching the Liberal Arts
SOCI 680 Writing for Publication in Sociology
SOCI 620 Advanced Methods – Qualitative Research
SOCI 622 Advanced Methods – Quantitative Research


Areas of Specialization

Students are required to specialize in two areas and to complete at least one course in each of these areas. Standard Exam Areas in the department include:

· Culture 
· Demography 
· Economic Sociology & Organizations 
· Family
· Gender
· Globalization
· Health & Medicine
· Immigration
· Labor & Occupations
· Political Sociology 
· Race and Ethnicity
· Science & Technology
· Social Stratification
· Social Movements & Civic Engagement
· Social Theory
· Urban Sociology


Empirical Paper

Success in the field of sociology requires involvement in the conduct of empirical research. Relatively early, therefore, each student is required to complete an independent research project, which is supervised by two faculty members. If a master's thesis or some other research project has been completed at another university, it may — subject to permission of the student’s guidance committee — be submitted in lieu of the empirical paper. Students are also required to make a public presentation of this or other independent work, either at a professional meeting or in some other academic forum. 


 5-Member Guidance Committee

The 5-Member Guidance Committee will conduct the Qualification Examination of each PhD student.  Sociology uses two-person standing qualifying committees for each of our areas.  The two standing qualifying review committees (4 members) form the skeleton of the 5-person guidance committee.


Qualifying Examinations 

All students are required to complete written and oral qualifying exams on their two specialty fields in the spring semester of their third year of graduate study.  The completion of the Empirical Paper is no longer a prerequisite for the Qualifying Exams.  


Advancing to Candidacy

Students advance to Ph.D. candidacy upon the completion of their empirical paper and qualifying examination.



The dissertation is the final step in the acquisition of the Ph.D. degree. After advancement to candidacy, students are expected to submit a formal prospectus to their dissertation committee within six months. 


  • Sociology
  • 851 Downey Way
  • HSH 314
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-1059