Ph.D. Degree Requirements

The Department of Sociology conducts a course of study leading to the Ph.D. degree.

Full details about requirements and expectations may be found in the Department of Sociology Graduate Handbook.
  • Master's Degree 
  • Although we do not offer a standalone master's program, students who enter the program without an M.A. degree are eligible to advance to Master's candidacy once they have completed at least half of their M.A. coursework. Once they have completed all their M.A. requirements successfully, they should complete a Master’s Report Form (available from the Office of Graduate Studies). Eligibility for a master's degree requires a minimum of 44 units of graduate and upper-division coursework, of which at least 18 units must be graduate courses in the major field.

    Students with a Master's Degree: 

    - Students who enter with a master's degree in a subject other than Sociology can apply for the M.A. in Sociology from UC Davis.
    - Students with an M.A. in Sociology may petition for a second M.A. from the UC Davis Department of Sociology, but the focus of study for the second M.A. must differ from the focus of study for the first M.A. 
    - Students who already have a master's degree when they enter the doctoral degree program should consult with both their first year major professor and the graduate staff advisor about possible exemptions from certain course requirements. Courses from other campuses may be accepted (but not automatically) and must be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Students who believe they have completed the equivalent of one or more required graduate courses may petition the Graduate Program Committee for an exemption.

  • Doctoral Degree

  • Course requirements for the Ph.D. degree include all those for the M.A. degree plus:

    - 2 additional graduate seminars in Sociology
    - 1 additional upper-division or graduate course or seminar in Sociology or another field 
    - 1 upper-division or graduate course covering U.S. multicultural issues.

    In addition to the required coursework, Ph.D. students must write one article length, professional quality paper. Acceptable papers analyze new data, or develop a new analysis of existing data. Papers are evaluated ("pass," "pass with suggested changes," "revise and resubmit with suggested changes" or "fail") by a three-person faculty committee selected by the students.

  • Portfolio Review

  • Purpose

    The purpose of the portfolio review is to assess each applicant's sociological competency (in theory, methods and substantive areas), and strengths and weaknesses in academic work, as evidenced in their first-year record. By reviewing the entire first-year record, the Portfolio Review Committee will give each student invaluable feedback on their academic performance, including how to improve and succeed in the program.


    The portfolio is due the day after final grades are due, at the end of spring quarter, year 1. Consult the UC Davis Academic Calendar for the specific dates by year. 


    Each portfolio must include all course grades, graded exams and papers, written comments from instructors on performance in first-year courses, and a two-page (maximum) personal statement in which the student can:

    - explain any difficulties they encountered in year 1 that impeded progress and/or performance
    - outline plans for Year 2
    - specify a general plan for the Qualifying Paper (undertaken in year 2)

    Each portfolio will be rated either "satisfactory" or "unsatisfactory." Each student will receive a letter that identifies strengths and weakness of the portfolio, and offers advice about advancement through the program. A student who receives an "unsatisfactory" rating will have the opportunity to improve his or her record in year 2 of the program. If, at the annual review at the end of year 2 the student receives a second "unsatisfactory" assessment, the faculty may vote to recommend to the dean of Graduate Studies that the student be disqualified from the program.

    Portfolio Review Committee
    Portfolios will be assessed by the Portfolio Review Committee (PRC), consisting of four faculty members and one committee chair (also a faculty member), all appointed by the Department Chair. The Graduate Program Director and the Graduate Program Coordinator serve as ex officio members on the committee. The committee does not include a graduate student representative. The Department Chair does not vote but is available for consultation. Members serve one-year terms, and committee membership rotates among all faculty members from year to year.

    Post-Committee Review
    - Students are required to meet with their major advisor in fall quarter, year 2, to discuss their portfolio review
    - Students must sign off on their review. Students who have left campus may submit their signatures electronically

  • Curricular Plan

  • Each entering student is assigned a first-year advisor who will meet with the student to develop a curricular plan. At the end of the first year, each student must choose a major professor. Major professor duties include: helping develop a curricular plan; discussing graduate program reviews; and providing committee, funding and professional advice. Subsequently, changes of the major professor may be initiated (by the student or the faculty member) at any time. To change your major professor, please obtain a “Major Professor Change” form from the Graduate Program Coordinator.

    Upon successful completion of all coursework and the professional quality paper, students prepare a doctoral dissertation prospectus, and a qualifying examination is scheduled. The exam covers two broad fields of Sociology chosen from a departmental list. It is graded "pass" or "fail" by a five-person committee. As the final step toward the degree, students complete a doctoral dissertation. It must be approved by a three-member faculty dissertation committee, one member of which must be from outside the department. Students should complete all requirements — except the dissertation — within three to four years.

  • Multiculturalism and Diversity

  • The mission to cultivate multiculturalism and diversity is a critical component of contemporary academic training. An important element of the educational experience of students in the Department of Sociology Ph.D. program is the diverse environment in which we work, teach and interact. Diversity presents itself in many different forms, including socioeconomic status, race or ethnicity, religion, gender, age, sexuality, nationality or place of origin, disability, unique work or life experience. Exposure to a broad range of experiences, perspectives and values is key to fostering both breadth and depth in intellectual growth.

    The Ph.D. program is committed to maintaining an inclusive work environment that values diverse backgrounds, approaches and perspectives to inspire collaboration, discovery and innovation. Our graduate students work with an extremely diverse undergraduate population when they teach (as teaching assistants or acting instructors), which has provided rich and meaningful professional development. Through research and teaching, our Ph.D. students are encouraged to become highly attentive to the importance of difference and diversity in higher education and in our society.