Students are expected to complete requirements for the M.A. degree before beginning course work toward the Ph.D. Advanced standing (i.e. credit for prior M.A. degrees) is sometimes, though not always awarded on an ad hoc basis, depending on where and in what subject the prior degree was awarded.
Master of Arts
The Master’s degree consists of 30 credits, of which 24 must be regular courses and 6 credits may be thesis research. A master’s thesis is required to demonstrate the student’s ability to complete a sustained scholarly project in a professional way. Prior to the completion of coursework for the M.A., each student will have a Thesis Committee of at least two faculty members. In consultation with the Thesis Committee, students will write a research paper, developed from an already completed seminar paper or another piece of independent research, with the aim of producing a publishable article. The final version should be presented to the committee in the format of a journal article. (See ASR, AJS, Social Forces, Sociological Theory, or other scholarly journals for examples of this format. Publishable papers are generally 25-40 pages in length, including the bibliography.)
By the end of the student’s fourth semester in the master’s program, the thesis will be submitted to the Thesis Committee for approval. The student will then present his/her thesis to faculty and graduate students at a Master’s Colloquium usually held at the end of the spring semester.
Doctor of Philosophy
A candidate for the doctorate is required to complete a minimum of 30 credits of graded course work in this department beyond the master’s level, pass two comprehensive “field exams,” and write a dissertation based on independent research.
A more detailed statement of the requirements for the M.A. and Ph.D. is available on the department website: www.virginia.edu/sociology.