The Ph.D. Degree

The Ph.D. Degree Program in Sociology

The doctoral program consists of 90 semester hours of credit beyond the B.A. degree. The core course requirements for the Ph.D. comprise 24 credits (8 3-hour seminars), and most of these courses are taken in the M.A. program. Students are required to complete 15 credits (5 3-hour elective seminars) in the department. Students are required to complete 12 credits (4 3-hour seminars) in elective seminars either in the department or in another department. Each Ph.D. student indicates one primary and one secondary area of specialization, selected from the list of departmental specializations. [link to list of specialty areas] There are four qualifying examinations: theory, methods, the primary area, and the secondary area. As many as 24 credits of dissertation research (SYA 7979 and SYA 7980) apply toward the degree, which is equivalent to 3 semesters.

The Supervisory Committee. Before the completion of 12 credits or the second semester, students are required by the Graduate School to form the supervisory committee. Since the supervisory committee has responsibility for qualifying examinations, it must have adequate strength in each area in which the student is likely to be examined. The committee must have great strength in the student’s major area of specialization to provide the level of supervision required for the dissertation.

The committee chair must have Graduate Faculty status in the department and have expertise in the student’s primary area of specialization. The committee must have two additional faculty members who have Graduate Faculty status in the department. Affiliate department members may be a committee co-chair or member. The final committee member should have Graduate Faculty status in another department. If the student has an out-of-department minor, the outside member must come from the minor department. Lecturers do not have Graduate Faculty status. Faculty in professional colleges (e.g., law, medicine) ordinarily do not have Graduate Faculty status.

The student first obtains the consent of the proposed supervisory committee chair and, in consultation with the proposed chair, determines the required department faculty members, and the required external member. Students gain all four members’ consent and submit the proposed committee to the Graduate Coordinator. [ file: phd-committee-approval-soc ] Once approved, the Graduate Coordinator forwards the proposed committee to the Graduate School for final approval.

Plan of Study. The student should consult with the supervisory committee chair to develop a detailed plan of courses and timing for completion of the Ph.D. degree. The supervisory committee chair will transmit an approved copy of the plan to the Graduate Coordinator within one month of the supervisory committee’s appointment. [ file: phd-plan-soc ]

Credit Hour Requirements. The Ph.D. requires a minimum of 90 credit hours of courses, with additional guidelines noted below. The department guidelines are designed to ensure that graduate students at the Ph.D. level are exposed to the core ideas in methods, statistics, theory, and professional development. In addition, students are expected to develop expertise in at least one primary and one secondary area. Students will benefit from participating in dynamic exchanges found in seminars as well as doing independent or collaborative research with faculty and other graduate students. So long as the basic guidelines are followed, students can craft their program in various ways to incorporate individual studies hours (9 credits maximum), dissertation research (24 credits maximum), courses outside the department, and transfer credits (30 credits maximum) .

  • 24 hours of required courses in methods, statistics, theory, and professional development (see below) Students with an M.A. in Sociology from the University of Florida will have already completed most of them.
  • At least 15 credit hours, beyond the required 24 hours of required course credit, must be taken in department elective seminars. These include seminar hours taken at the M.A. level. (Individual work and individual research courses are not considered seminars).
  • Ordinarily, no more than a total of 9 credit hours in individual work (courses numbered 5905, 6905 or 6910) may be counted toward the Ph.D., including all hours taken at the M.A. level). The Graduate School further limits SYA 6910 to 5 credits hours totaled across the M.A. and Ph.D. programs
  • No more than a combined total of 24 hours of Advanced Research ( SYA 7979) and Research for Doctoral Dissertations (SYA 7980) may be counted toward the 90 total hours.
  • A total of 12 credit hours of courses may be taken outside the department and applied to the Ph.D. degree provided they are approved in writing by the Graduate Coordinator and supervisory committee chair. These hours include hours taken outside the department at the M.A. level.
  • Students transferring to the University of Florida with a Master’s degree in Sociology may petition the Graduate Coordinator to be credited with a maximum of 30 semester hours taken in an M.A. or M.S. program. Students with a Sociology M.A. from the University of Florida may count 36 hours from the M.A. program.
  • Students entering the Ph.D. program with a Master’s degree in another field may be required to complete an M.A. in Sociology or to complete additional graduate or undergraduate courses. The Graduate Coordinator has responsibility for determining these requirements.
  • With approval of the Graduate Coordinator, students entering the Department from elsewhere may petition for a waiver if similar courses have been successfully completed.

Required Courses. Students are required to take the following courses (24 total hours).

Methods of Social Research

    • SYA 6305: Introduction to Qualitative Methods
    • SYA 7933: Introduction to Quantitative Methods
    • SYA 6407: Quantitative Research Methods
    • SYA 7933: Research Design

Either:

  • SYA 6315 Qualitative Research Methods
  • SYA 7933 Advanced Quantitative Research Methods

Sociological Theory

  • SYA 6018 Classical Sociological Theory
  • SYA 6126 Contemporary Sociological Theory

Professional Development

  • SYA 7933 Introduction to Professional Development

Rule Waivers. Students may petition the Graduate Coordinator to waive departmental rules. Such petitions should include full justification and must have the approval of the student’s supervisory committee if it has been formed.

Courses in Other Departments. With permission of the supervisory committee and the Graduate Coordinator, students may take graduate courses in other departments and apply the semester hours taken toward the total required for the M.A. degree. These courses may be part of a certificate or minor in another department or interdisciplinary program such as Latin American Studies.

Areas of Specialization. Ordinarily students choose a primary and secondary substantive specialization. The primary specialization must be selected from the list of departmental specializations. The secondary specialization is usually chosen from this list but may be from a related social science discipline or an interdisciplinary program. Students interested in a secondary specialization not on the list or outside the department should consult the Graduate Coordinator and supervisory committee chair. The student should also consult the minor department since it will have rules governing minors in that field. Except in extraordinary circumstances, the dissertation will be in the area of primary specialization.

The adoption of specialization areas constitutes a major intellectual and occupational commitment and should not be undertaken lightly. Students should select areas in the light of their interests, department strengths, interests of faculty with whom they wish to work, and the nature of the job market.

The department emphasizes these areas of particular strength:

  • Aging
  • Environment and Resource Sociology
  • Families
  • Gender
  • Health
  • Life Course
  • Race and Ethnicity in a US & Global Context
  • Sexualities

In addition, graduate students can specialize in the following areas:

  • Demography
  • Deviance
  • Latin American Studies
  • Latino Sociology
  • Political Sociology
  • Social Stratification and Inequality
  • Social Psychology

Students may petition the Graduate Coordinator if they wish to declare a secondary specialization area not included on the above lists. Areas that are too narrowly focused, lack faculty expertise, or are not well represented in the discipline are unlikely to be approved. Petitions should include a justification for the specialization, list relevant coursework and specify the qualifications of your committee to mentor research in the area. Reading lists may also be included as documentation to support specialization petitions.

Qualifying Examination. All Ph.D. candidates must take the qualifying examination, which is both written and oral.

  • Time. The student must be registered in the term the qualifying examination is given. The qualifying examination must be completed before the midterm of the sixth semester, but may be completed as early as the fourth semester as approved by the supervisory committee. The written part must be completed within a single 30-day span. The oral part must be completed within 30 days of the date that the last written component is completed. Ordinarily, the oral part of the qualifying examination is not scheduled during the summer term, therefore written exams in the spring semester should begin no later March 1. The oral part of the qualifying examination must be completed at least 2 terms before the degree is received. The term the oral examination is passed is counted, if the examination occurs before the midpoint of the term. If you intend to graduate in spring, your oral examination must be completed before the midpoint of fall.
  • Exam Structure and Content. The written and oral examinations are prepared and evaluated by the supervisory committee and covers the primary area of specialization, the secondary area of specialization, theory, and methods and statistics. Except for allowed substitutions, all members of the supervisory committee must attend the oral part. Using modern technological means, however, will allow them to attend remotely, should that be necessary. At this time the supervisory committee is responsible for deciding whether the student is qualified to continue work toward a Ph.D. degree.
  • The qualifying exam consists of four components: the primary area of specialization, the secondary area of specialization, theory, and methods and statistics. Each component is an open-source, take-home exam. The primary specialization exam must be returned within 72 hours of receipt; the other three exams are 48-hour examinations. The four exams must be completed within a single 30-day period. A published paper may substitute for half of the primary area exam or the entire secondary area exam. The minimum requirements are that the paper must be relevant to the particular area, a sole-authored paper written during residency as a student at the University of Florida, and published or accepted for publication. The supervisory committee will determine the adequacy of the paper as a substitute by evaluating its topic, quality, length, and the standing of the journal of publication. Substitution of a paper for an exam on a secondary or minor area outside the department must be approved by the outside committee member from that department.
  • Each supervisory committee member submits a “pass” or “fail” written grade for each exam. A plurality of pass votes is required in each area of the examination. If the committee decides that the student has not passed the qualifying examination or any part of it, one re-examination is permitted, either on the whole examination or on parts of it. If a student fails the qualifying examination, the Graduate School should be notified. A re-examination may be requested, but it must be recommended by the supervisory committee. At least one term of additional preparation is needed before re-examination.
  • The supervisory committee chair shall approve scheduling the oral part of the qualifying exam, when satisfied that the written document is ready for an oral defense. The supervisory committee chair is required by the Graduate School to notify all department members of the oral examination 10 business days in advance of the date. The public notification will be electronically delivered and state the student’s name, and the time, date and location of the defense. All faculty, students and others are invited to attend, but only the supervisory committee may evaluate whether the student passes.
  • Admission to Candidacy. Successful completion of both the written and oral parts of the qualifying examination is required for admission to Ph.D. candidacy (ABD, all but dissertation). The Admission to Candidacy form requires committee approval of the dissertation topic and the date of that approval. If the dissertation proposal has been successfully defended prior to the oral qualifying exam, the proposal defense date is submitted and the dissertation title is listed. Otherwise the committee’s approval of the dissertation topic must occur at the oral part of the qualifying examination.

Dissertation. The Graduate School declares that the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) is a research degree and is granted on evidence of general proficiency, distinctive attainment in a special field, and particularly on ability for independent investigation as demonstrated in a dissertation presenting original research with a high degree of literary skill.

    • Proposal.The department requires completion and successful oral defense of a dissertation proposal. The dissertation proposal may be prepared and defended before or after the qualifying exams but not on the same day. It should be approved by the supervisory committee by the midterm of the sixth semester, but may be defended as early in the program as approved by the supervisory committee. The proposal shall be of the length and organization as determined by the supervisory committee, and should be sufficient to communicate satisfactorily an understanding of the literature and background of the theoretical and empirical issues and present a feasible and appropriate methodology for the project.The student must place a final copy of the dissertation proposal in the mailroom for public inspection 10 business days in advance of the proposal defense. The supervisory committee chair must electronically announce the date, time and place of the proposal defense to faculty, students, and staff in the department. The electronic notice must identify the student, the title of the project, and an abstract of the proposed dissertation. All faculty, students and others are invited to attend, but only the supervisory committee may evaluate whether the student passes. Proposal defenses are not ordinarily scheduled during the summer. [ file: phd-proposal-approval-soc ]
    • Dissertation Requirements and Recommendations.Students who remain in residence at the University of Florida while researching and writing their dissertations are likely to finish more quickly and will find consultation with the supervisory committee much easier.A dissertation must be completed within five years of qualifying exam completion. Students taking longer must be readmitted and may be required to repeat the qualifying exams.

      It is entirely ethical for a student to engage a paid editor to advise on matters of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. This can be helpful, particularly for students for whom English is not the first language.

      During the student’s planned final semester, it is essential to obtain and study closely the Graduate School’s critical dates. These are provided in the current Graduate Catalogue http://graduateschool.ufl.edu/academics/graduate-catalog and at the Graduate School’s website http://www.graduateschool.ufl.edu/graduation/

    • Format.The dissertation must be in a form suitable for publication, using the Graduate School’s format requirements. The Graduate School Editorial Office, as agents of the Dean of the Graduate School, reviews the dissertation for acceptable format. Before presentation to the Editorial Office, the dissertation should be virtually complete and completely formatted (not in a draft format). Students must be completely familiar with the format requirements of the Graduate School and should work with one of the consultants in the Application Support Center, to troubleshoot the dissertation, before attempting to make a first submission to the editors in the Graduate School Editorial Office. Students who fail to first meet with one of the ASC Lab Consultants often find their document rejected upon First Submission to the Editorial Office, for not meeting the minimum submission standards, required for an editorial review.The typical dissertation format requires a general introduction chapter, a chapter that describes relevant specialty fields, a methodology and data chapter, a chapter of analytical results, and a general conclusions chapter. An alternate format includes journal articles as chapters, with all copyright considerations are addressed appropriately for published articles. In such cases, Chapter 1 should be a general introduction, tying everything together as a unified whole. The last chapter should be general conclusions, again tying everything together into a unified whole. Any chapter representing a journal article needs a footnote at the bottom of the first page of the chapter: “Reprinted with permission from…” giving the source, just as it appears in the list of references. The dissertation should have only 1 abstract and 1 reference list.
  • The Final Examination.The final examination is an oral defense of the dissertation; general matters pertaining to the student’s specializations may also be covered. The final examination should occur by midterm of the eighth semester, but may be defended as early in the program as approved by the committee. Final examinations are ordinarily not scheduled during the summer. The oral defense may not be scheduled before a completed draft of the dissertation has been distributed to the supervisory committee and the committee chair has read it and determined that it is ready for oral defense.The student must place a final copy of the dissertation in the mailroom for public inspection 10 business days in advance of the oral defense. The supervisory committee chair must electronically announce the date, time and place of the oral defense to faculty, students, and staff in the department. The electronic notice must identify the student, the title of the project, and an abstract of the dissertation. All faculty, students and others are invited to attend, but only the supervisory committee may evaluate whether the student passes.