The department offers a flexible, stand-alone MA degree in sociology. This program is designed to meet the needs of applicants who seek professional training in a focused area of social research that can be chosen from urban sociology, the sociology of the environment, medical sociology, and several other fields. The program encourages students to develop expertise in research design, methodological techniques (whether quantitative or qualitative), evaluation research, and other research skills that are essential to data analysis and decision-making in varied organizational settings. The MA program also equips students with substantive knowledge in fields that are relevant to consulting organizations, social policy and planning contexts, and non-profit organizations. Some proportion of MA students may elect to go on to academic PhD training, though this is not the core mission of the MA program. Thirty semester hours of academic work, completed with a B (3.000) average or better, are required for the degree. The program consists of four required and six elective courses.
Students are encouraged to fashion a program of study best suited to their interests. Students who wish to pursue careers in applied social research or policy and administrative contexts are encouraged to emphasize methodological training. Students who may wish to pursue academic careers may instead favor courses in substantive and theoretical fields. All entering students should consult with the graduate coordinator. The graduate coordinator helps the student to articulate interests and plan courses, but also suggests other faculty members whose areas of interest and competence intersect with those of the student and with whom the student might consult on a regular basis. A student will be assigned an adviser. Students may terminate or initiate an adviser/advisee relationship at any time, simply by consulting with and informing the parties concerned. The staff assistant for graduate affairs should also be informed of any changes.
Both the MA and PhD programs are designed to admit relatively small numbers of graduate students each year, which affords students the opportunity to forge close working relationships with the faculty. MA students generally do not receive funding; the program is shorter, and culminates in a Master’s paper that must be approved by two faculty members. The MA program confers a professional degree that is of immediate use in furthering the student’s career.