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The Department of Sociology offers the degrees of Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy. However, a terminal Master’s degree is infrequently awarded, as students awarded Master’s Degrees usually continue in the Department to receive PhD Degrees.

The faculty conduct research and offer courses within two broadly defined areas: 1) social movements and 2) politics and culture. Within each of these areas, graduate students are able to pursue a variety of theoretical, substantive, and methodological interests.

For descriptions of these areas, see:

Politics and Culture
Social Movements

Graduate students are encouraged to combine their work in sociology with multidisciplinary study in a particular area by enrolling in any of the following certificate programs: African Studies, Asian Studies, European Studies, Global Studies, Latin American Studies, Russian and Eastern European Studies, Cultural Studies, or Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies.

Contact Information

Department Chair: Suzanne Staggenborg
Main Office: 2406 Posvar Hall
Fax: 412-648-2799

Additional information concerning the department’s graduate program may be obtained from the University of Pittsburgh, Department of Sociology, Graduate Administrator, 2404 WWPH, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. Phone: 412-648-7585. E-mail:


Qualified students from any discipline are considered for admission. Qualifications include preparation for graduate-level work in sociological theory and both qualitative and quantitative research methods, including a required course in social science applications of multivariable regression models. Applicants must submit to the departmental director of graduate studies transcripts of all college-level work, three letters of recommendation, a career statement, a brief writing sample, and scores on the verbal, quantitative, and analytical sections of the Graduate Record Examination. International applicants are also required to submit TOEFL scores, unless they hold an undergraduate or graduate degree from an accredited U.S. college or university. All applications and application fees must be submitted on-line. Applications are accepted for fall term admission until March 15. To be considered for financial awards, applications must be completed by January 15. The department admits students only for the fall term.

Financial Assistance

Teaching assistantships and fellowships, Andrew W. Mellon Predoctoral Fellowships, Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships (administered by the University Center for International Studies), Provost Development Fellowships, and graduate student research assistantships are available.

Requirements for the Master’s Degree

For the MA, students must earn 36 credits in approved graduate courses. The 36 credits must include completion of the nine credit core course sequence: Research Design, Social Theory, Qualitative Methods and Quantitative Methods, as well as at least 14 credits of elective graduate coursework in the sociology program with grades of B or better.

Students also write and defend a master's thesis for which they receive up to 6 credits.

Remaining credits may be earned with sociology electives (which may include 3 credits of directed study) or graduate coursework in other programs.

Requirements for the PhD

Admission: Prerequisite for admission is a Bachelor of Arts degree or equivalent preparation (plus approval from the Admissions Committee). If a Student has not yet received a Master’s Degree at the time of application, the Department will require the student to pursue a Master’s Degree at the University of Pittsburgh. The requirements for the Master’s Degree are listed below. Those students entering with an MA degree from another institution may petition the Admissions Committee for a transfer of credits but core courses are usually not waived.

Credit Requirement: The PhD program requires 72 credits earned from a combination of the required core course sequences, MA courses, additional graduate sociology seminars, and any suitable combination from course work, independent study, research, and dissertation work as detailed elsewhere in this bulletin.

Supervised Teaching Experience: Supervised teaching experience is an integral part of the doctoral program. Typically, teaching experience is gained by conducting recitation sections of an introductory course and, once the MA is completed and the student has conducted recitations, by teaching an undergraduate course with the guidance of a faculty mentor.

Comprehensive Examination: The PhD comprehensive examination is an individually designed review essay using relevant research literatures to develop research questions for the dissertation and to support those questions with appropriate methodological and theoretical “best practices” in the field and substantive findings related to the dissertation project.

Dissertation Overview: At this stage students will have selected, in consultation with their dissertation committee, a suitable dissertation topic. Students present a written prospectus to their committee describing the purpose, scope, and method of proposed study and the sources upon which it will be based. Students are encouraged to give careful thought early on in their graduate work to possible doctoral research topics and discuss their interests with related faculty.

Final Oral Examination: The final oral examination in defense of the doctoral dissertation is conducted by the dissertation committee and is open to the University community.

Course Listing


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