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111 place StudyQA ranking:1493 Duration:5 years

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The mission of the Ph.D. program in the Vanderbilt University Department of Sociology is to prepare students for careers in sociological research and teaching. To achieve its goal, the program provides its graduate students with training in the fundamentals of sociology through coursework designed to give students breadth of knowledge in sociological theory, research methods, and a variety of substantive areas. Coursework also allows students to develop an ability to convey theoretical and empirical ideas effectively through both written and oral expression. In addition, students gain substantial experience in conducting collaborative, theoretically-informed and empirically-grounded research with top scholars in the field. A teaching workshop and teaching assistantships in support of faculty members ensure that students acquire hands-on experience in teaching. Through successful completion of a master’s thesis and two special-area exams, writing research articles individually and in collaboration with faculty, and the design and completion of a doctoral dissertation, students gain the requisite skills, knowledge, and abilities needed for careers in sociological research and teaching.

The Master’s Degree in Sociology is ordinarily earned as part of the work toward the Ph.D. The following requirements for the M.A. degree are to be completed by the student’s fourth semester:

  • Soc. 6301, Classical Sociological Theory
  • Soc. 6302, Contemporary Sociology Theory
  • Soc. 6310, Sociological Inquiry: Introduction to Research Methods
  • Soc. 6311, Statistics (Multivariate Analysis I)
  • Soc. 6312, Statistics (Multivariate Analysis II)
  • Soc. 7500, Workshop on Sociological Criticism
  • 18 hours of elective course work (including one additional methods seminar, two survey seminars, and one special topic seminar)
  • Pass the Master’s Paper

Total credit hours required for the M.A.: 36

To earn the Ph.D., students must first complete all requirements for the M.A. Additional requirements for the Ph.D.:

  • 33 additional hours of electives
  • Soc. 7400, Teaching Workshop
  • Pass two Special Area Exams
  • Satisfactory defense of dissertation proposal
  • Completed dissertation
  • Satisfactory defense of dissertation

Total credit hours required for the Ph.D. degree: 72

  • An undergraduate degree from an accredited, four-year institution (or a course of study that is the equivalent of such a degree)
  • A minimum of a B average in undergraduate work and a minimum of a B average in the field of expected graduate study
  • GRE verbal and quantitative scores (the subject test is not required). Information about the GRE can be obtained from: Graduate Record Examinations, Educational Testing Service, Box 6000, Princeton, NJ, 08541-6000, USA or at
  • Applicants whose first language is not English and who have not received a degree at an English-speaking university must include a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score with the application. The Graduate School requires a minimum score of 570 (paper-based; 230 computer-based; or 88 Internet-based). Information about TOEFL can be obtained from TOEFL, Box 6151, Princeton, NJ, 08541-6151, USA or at

In addition to the required application materials (personal essay, transcripts, letters of recommendation, etc.), you may wish to upload an electronic copy of a research paper or M.A. thesis. If you send paper materials, please send them to: Graduate Applications – College of Arts and Science, ATTN: Sociology, Vanderbilt University, 411 Kirkland Hall, Nashville, TN, 37240, USA.


All students admitted to the Ph.D. program are offered funding, which includes a 12-month stipend, a full tuition waiver, and student health insurance*. If students continue to make good progress in the program, funding typically continues for five years. Outstanding applicants may also be eligible for departmental, College of Arts and Science, or University fellowships that supplement the standard stipend. The department nominates outstanding applicants for these awards; there is no separate application process. With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Department offers a Fellowship that also provides a supplement to the standard stipend for selected students with health and health policy research emphases.

Most funded students work as graduate assistants to the department faculty members, though some may choose instead to apply for paid positions with American Sociological Review, which is edited in the department. To support themselves beyond the usual five years of graduate assistant funding, students may work as research assistants to faculty members in sociology or in other parts of the University, or teach at Vanderbilt or in other local colleges. Students also benefit from numerous internal funding opportunities, such as dissertation-year fellowships from the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities; summer research awards from the College of Arts and Science; small research grants from the Department of Sociology; and travel grants from the Graduate School Students are also encouraged to compete for national external graduate fellowships sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Jacob Javits Foundation, the American Association of University Women, and the American Sociological Association.

* University Tuition Scholarships are service-free awards that pay all or part of tuition costs. The following graduate awards are normally supplemented by a full University Tuition Scholarship, which usually includes student health insurance coverage: University Fellowships, Graduate Teaching Assistantships, Graduate Research Assistantships, Traineeships, and Teacher Training Awards.

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