PhD Requirements

Normative Timeline

Master's Requirements
     Master's Coursework
     Master's Paper
     Application for the MA
Advancing to Candidacy or the QE Phase     
     Field Statements
     Dissertation Proposal
     Oral Qualifying Exam
 After Advancing to Candidacy
     The Dissertation
     Application for the PhD
     Dissertation Defense


This chart is designed to clarify department-specific deadlines. For a comprehensive list of university deadlines, please refer to the  UCSC Academic and Administrative Calendar .


Completing MA requirements

Fall 2023 Winter 2024 Spring 2024 Summer 2024
MA application 10/12 1/18 4/11 7/5
MA paper draft due to committee* No later than 11/08 No later than 2/15 No later than 5/06 No later than 7/23
MA coursework & paper approval due to department 12/08 3/15 6/06 8/23
MA completion notification to Graduate Division 12/15 3/22 6/13 8/30

*Faculty should have at least four weeks to review and send your work back with edits. This date is just four weeks before the final MA paper is due.


Advancing to candidacy

Fall 2023 Winter 2024 Spring 2024 Summer 2024***
Field statements approved (recommended completing in quarter prior to QE)  September December March
Dissertation proposal draft submitted to committee (recommended) 4 weeks prior to QE date 4 weeks prior to QE date 4 weeks prior to QE date
Deadline to schedule oral QE and submit paperwork to department* 11/15 2/22 5/13
Last day of quarter for QE oral exam to take place** 12/15 3/22 6/13
Quarter in which candidacy takes effect Winter 2024 Spring 2024 Summer 2024 Fall 2024

*The Ph.D Qualifying Committee form has to be submitted to the Graduate Division at least 4 weeks prior to the Exam date

**Last date to take QE oral exam for candidacy to take effect the following quarter.
*** Obtain QE committe confirmation that they will be available for your QE during the summer


Graduating with the PhD

Fall 2023 Winter 2024 Spring 2024 Summer 2024
PhD application 10/12 1/18 4/11 7/05
Dissertation title page and submission 12/15 3/22 6/13 8/30

Normative Timeline

Years 1-2 (MA) Years 3-4 (QE) Years 5-7 (Dissertation)
MA Requirements Advance to Candidacy Research & Dissertation

The normative timeline refers to the expected time for completing each of the three requirements for the Ph.D. degree:

Years 1 & 2: Complete Master's Requirements (Total of 10 courses and MA paper)
Years 3 & 4: Complete the QE Process & Advance to Candidacy. International Students: Highly encouraged to QE by end of 3rd year for NRT waiver
Years 5 - 7: Conduct research, write, and submit dissertation

Master's Requirements

The Sociology program at UCSC is a Ph.D. program, and does not provide a terminal Master's degree. The Master's requirements include: Master's coursework, Master's paper. Apply by submitting the Master's application to the Graduate Coordinator.

Master's Coursework - 10 courses

Four-course core group:

  • Socy 200A: Social Theory I
  • Socy 200B: Social Theory II
  • Socy 200C: Social Theory III
  • Socy 203: Sociological Methods

Two methods courses:

  • Socy 204: Methods of Quantitative Analysis
  • One of the following courses:
    • Socy 205: Field Research Methods
    • Socy 206: Comparative Historical Methods
    • Socy 209: Analysis of Cultural Forums
    • Socy 241: Cross-National and Cross-Cultural Research
    • Socy 242: Feminist Research Seminar
    • Psy 248: Survey Methods
    • Socy 268A: Science and Justice: Experiments in Collaboration
    • Socy 282: Social Policy Research
Four courses from the following electives:
  • Socy 208: Writing Practicum
  • Socy 209: Cultural Forms*
  • Socy 220: Global Transformation
  • Socy 225: Political Economy for Sociologists
  • Socy 229: Work and Labor Markets in the New Economy
  • Socy 240: Inequality and Identity
  • Socy 242: Feminist Research Seminar
  • Socy 246: Class, Culture, and Movement
  • Socy 252: Symbolic Interactionism and Sociology of Emotions
  • Socy 256: Urban Sociology
  • Socy 257: Colonialism, International Law, and Global Justice
  • Socy 260: Culture, Knowledge, Power
  • Socy 263: Cultural Politics of Difference
  • Socy 268A: Science and Justice: Experiments in Collaboration*
  • Socy 290: Special Topics on Social Movements
  • Socy 290: Special Topics on Affect, Emotions, and the Social World
  • Socy 290: Special Topics on Political Emotions

*Can be taken as an elective if not fulfilling the methods requirement.

See previous years' catalogs for past requirements

Master's Paper


The Master's paper should demonstrate your ability to craft a sociological analysis and conduct independent research. One option is to write your paper in the format of a professional sociology journal article. The paper should be between 20 to 36 pages, or 5000 to 9,000 words. Evaluation criteria includes coherence of your argument, referencing appropriate theoretical and empirical work and alternative explanations, writing quality, and inclusion of the best possible evidence.


Readers should receive at least four weeks to read and approve your paper. If you are applying for an MA in Sociology, the approval is due one week prior to the Master's degree filing deadline.
To be within normative time, the Master's paper should be submitted no later than the 6th quarter of study.

Student's academic advisor typically supervises the Master's paper and serves as the primary reader.


The paper must be approved by two readers. The primary reader must be from Sociology, and is typically your primary advisor. The secondary reader may be from Sociology or from another department. The approval should be emailed to the Graduate Coordinator or original signatures should be gathered on the Master's Degree Approval Form.


Email the final copy of your Master's paper to the Graduate Coordinator.

Application for the MA degree

Apply by submitting the Master's application to the Graduate Coordinator.

Advancing to Candidacy


QE Phase

After the MA requirements have been satisfied, students enter the next phase of the Ph.D. program. During the QE phase students complete the following: Field Statements, Dissertation Proposal, Qualifying Exam.

Students are requiredto notify the department about the faculty who will be guiding them through this phase by submitting the Sociology Department Field Statement Reader and QE Committee form.

Field Statements

Students are required to write 2 field statements, each of which must be approved by two readers.


A field statement discusses any recognized specialty or sub-specialty in sociology (e.g., race, environment, law, gender, labor, culture). It is not necessary for field statement topics to be based on ASA fields. However, the topics must be approved by field statement readers. While academic job postings often ask for expertise in given fields, field statements will reflect students' interests, which, typically, are at the intersection of two or more specialties. Field statements are also influenced by the readers' expectations and ideas about what constitutes a field statement. Students are advised to consult with their readers as they work on their field statements.

Field Statement Readers

  1. There must be a minimum of three readers between the two statements.
  2. One reader between the two statements may be from outside Sociology.
  3. The first reader should be from Sociology

Any exceptions need to be approved by the Graduate Director.


Readers should have at least four weeks to read and approve the field statements. Students should anticipate a couple of rounds of revisions before their field statements are approved.
To be within normative time, final versions of both field statements should be approved by the 9th quarter of study, and no later than the end of the 11th quarter of study.
Students should begin their work on field statements after their Master’s paper is approved. Typically, one field statement takes one or two quarters to complete.

Paperwork to be submitted (to Graduate Coordinator) once the field statements are finalized

Dissertation Proposal


The dissertation proposal is the blueprint for the dissertation. The proposal should discuss the theoretical context of the proposed work, the methodology to be used, and the literature to which the new work will contribute. Dissertation plans inevitably undergo revisions during the course of research and writing.

The dissertation proposal should be 15 to 30 pages and include:
  • A contextualized statement of the research/theoretical question A clear, descriptive statement about the question you want to study, why that question is theoretically, empirically, and/or methodologically significant, and sub-questions that will aid you in addressing your major question.
  • A brief, initial literature review that indicates the context of the thesis A critical review of the existing literature which is related to your question including both what you have learned from it in terms of your work, and its productive value in helping you develop questions that speak to and extend the literature.
  • A description of the methodology proposed for the thesis and its appropriateness, strengths and weaknesses, along with a discussion of the material you want to analyze in order to answer your questions.
  • A brief, initial bibliography.
  • An outline of your probable dissertation chapters (if possible).


To be within normative time, the dissertation proposal should be completed by the 12th quarter of study. A final copy should be submitted to all Qualifying Examination Committee (see below) members no later than the fifth week of the quarter in which the oral qualifying exam will be held. Students should anticipate the need to revise their dissertation proposal at least once or twice before it is approved. Faculty should be given up to four weeks to read and comment on the statements. It is the student's responsibility to schedule and coordinate the various steps of the QE process. Students should begin their work on the dissertation proposal after their field statements are approved. 

Oral Qualifying Exam

The oral qualifying exam is the dissertation proposal defense. It is the final step required to advance to candidacy.

To be within normative time, students must advance to candidacy by the beginning of their fifth year of study. If students do not pass the qualifying exam by the beginning of their fifth year of study, they will be required to submit an appeal for an extension of financial aid eligibility. The appeal includes the reason for the delay, current status in the qualifying stage, and timeline for completing the work to advance to candidacy. Oral qualifying exams should be scheduled in the quarter during, or immediately following, field statement approvals.

Qualifying Examination Committee
This is the four-member committee that advises the student during the dissertation proposal writing phase and conducts the oral examination of the dissertation proposal. The Committee comprises three Sociology faculty members and one outside member. In exceptional cases, with the permission of the Graduate Director, non-Sociology faculty in place of the three Sociology faculty may be appointed. An outside member may be a UCSC faculty member from a different department, or a Sociology faculty member from a different university. Although the department does not fund outside committee members to come to campus for the oral exam, hybrid arrangements may be made with the permission of the chair and other committee members.

Committee Nomination of the Ph.D. Qualifying Exam Form must be submitted to the Graduate Division for approval at least a month prior to the QE date. Any subsequent changes to the committee must be submitted through a new form.

Scheduling the oral qualifying exam
The student should find a date and time that works for all of their committee members for the exam. Once a date and time has been set, email the Graduate Coordinator to schedule a room. As a rule the oral exams are held during the regular academic year. However, students may schedule oral exams during summer term, subject to the availability of the committee members.


The successful completion of a QE oral exam qualifies as approval of the dissertation proposal. The QE committee will determine whether the student has passed with honors, passed, or failed the exam. The chair completes the Report on Qualifying Examination form, which is submitted to the Graduate Division.

Additional Paperwork required upon passing the QE
Final copy of the dissertation proposal 
Nominations for Dissertation Reading Committee Form

Dissertation Reading Committee
This is the committee that advises the student during the dissertation research and writing phase. A committee must have a minimum of three members, and the majority of the committee must be members of the UCSC Academic Senate. The Chair of the Committee should be from Sociology. An outside chair must be approved by the Graduate Director. Students may also designate co-chairs. Emeriti faculty may serve on the committee, but they must have recall appointments in any quarter they sponsor Socy 299: Thesis Research credits, or to sign off on the degree.

The Dissertation Reading Committee is likely to have overlaps with the Qualifying Exam committee.

Advancement to Candidacy

The date of advancement to candidacy is the first day of the quarter following a successful oral qualifying exam. The student will be billed a $90 advancement fee.

All paperwork to advance to candidacy must be submitted by the first day of the quarter in which it becomes effective.

After Advancing to Candidacy


Conduct research, write and submit your dissertation
Dissertation defense (required for cohorts 2014 - present)


The Dissertation

The dissertation is based on original research.

Dissertation writing process
The dissertation writing process requires writing chapter drafts, submitting for review to your committee, receiving suggestions and revisions, and making revisions as necessary.

Enrollment Requirement
Each quarter enroll in 5 credits of Socy 299 Thesis Research for supervised dissertation research and writing.

To obtain the PhD in normative time, complete dissertation within three years of advancing to candidacy. The final draft of the dissertation should be sent to the Dissertation Reading Committee at least four weeks prior to the end of the final quarter, except for in spring term, when it must be sent to the committee at least six weeks prior to the end of the quarter.

Approval is given via a signed front title page of the dissertation.

Submission guidelines are published on the Graduate Division website. Note that a hard copy of the title page with original signatures should be turned into Graduate Division. Email the Graduate Coordinator a copy of the title page with original signatures and a copy of the final draft.


Requirements for graduation term

Students must be enrolled or on filing fee status during the term in which they wish to graduate with their PhD.

Application for the PhD

Submit the PhD application to the Graduate Coordinator, at the latest, one week before the deadline stated on the academic calendar.

Dissertation Defense

The dissertation defense is required for students who enrolled in Fall 2015 or later.

Scheduling the dissertation defense
The student should find a date and time that works for all of their committee members. Once a date and time has been set, email the Graduate Coordinator to schedule a room.