MA and PhD Program


Master’s program:
The objective of the program is to help students develop their theoretical perspectives and research skills. It provides solid basic training to those who plan to work in positions requiring research skills in the public and private sectors. It also provides a strong foundation in sociological training for those who plan to pursue further a doctoral degree in sociology. Students can choose to take the program on a part-time or full-time basis. Part-time students are required to complete all course requirements within five years from date of entry. Part-time students must be able to take courses offered during normal working hours, as this is when course are offered.

Students have two options for completing the M.A. program. Both options have the same objective. It is achieved through taking a well designed sequence of courses, working as research assistants to professors, and attending seminars organized in the Department. The first option requires students to take eight half-year courses in a nine month period. The second option requires students to take six half-year courses and write a research paper in a 12 month period.

All master's students are required to take the following three courses as part of their course requirements:
SOC 6001H Classical Sociological Theory
SOC 6302H Statistics for Sociologists
SOC 6712H Qualitative Methods I.

Students must maintain a B average throughout their coursework to be recommended to receive their M.A. degree.

The M.A. research paper option is chosen by students who would like experience doing their own research project. A faculty member supervises the research paper and is responsible for working with the student on all phases of the paper. Students may develop their own project or write a paper that is part of a faculty members’ research or is part of the students’ R.A. position. For those pursuing the research paper option, it is best to line up a faculty supervisor in the first semester of the program.

PhD program
The objective of the program is to prepare candidates for a career in teaching and research by providing training to conduct theoretically informed and methodologically sophisticated state-of-the-art sociological research. Graduates from the program will be able to conduct independent research and to communicate their research in a variety of contexts. Therefore, the program is designed to provide both a broad knowledge of the discipline and training in basic research. Students are expected to have acquired autonomy in conducting research, preparing scholarly publications, and participating in professional conferences.

These objectives are achieved through a combination of course work, participation in seminars, preparation of comprehensive examinations, paid work as research and teaching assistants, preparing papers for conference presentation, and supervised dissertation research.

Students in the program are required to have two years of residence and to complete eight half-year courses. As part of their eight courses, students are required to take the following courses:
SOC 6101H Contemporary Sociological Theory
SOC 6707H Intermediate Data Analysis
SOC 6711Y Research Practicum (A full-course counts as two half-courses.)
If a student has already taken these courses at the graduate level, they may petition the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies to have other courses substituted.

In addition to course work, students are required to take two comprehensive examinations in the two chosen major fields of sociology. The comprehensive examination helps students familiarize themselves with the literature in the field and synthesize the literature in order to address research issues, and it provides broad background preparation for teaching in the field in the future. Comprehensive exams may be taken in the following areas: Immigration and Ethnicity; Health / Mental Health; Networks and Community; Crime and Socio-Legal Studies; Gender; Family; Stratification, Work, and Labour Markets; Political Sociology; Sociology of Culture; Social Policy; Life Course and Aging; Urban Sociology; Social Demography; Sociological Theory; Qualitative Methods and Quantitative Methods.

Faculty in each comprehensive area provide a reading list updated on a yearly basis. Reading lists are prepared and available for the eight areas of specialization in the department (Immigration and Ethnicity; Health and Mental Health; Networks and Community; Crime and Socio-legal Studies; Gender; Family; Stratification, Work and Labour Markets; Political Sociology; and Sociology of Culture) as well as theory and qualitative and quantitative methods. Area committees and reading lists may be accessed here. These areas appoint three committee members to serve as the examining committee for a given year. Areas listed above without lists (Social Policy, Life Course & Aging, Urban Sociology and Social Demography) will have lists created on an adhoc basis when a student wishes to take an exam in this area. Students should notify the graduate director at least six months prior to the start of studying for the exams, so committees may be struck. For the details of our comprehensive exam policy, click here.

Before taking the comprehensive examinations, students are advised to take core courses related to the fields in which they plan to be examined. These courses are designed to help students understand the major developments and debates in the field.

In preparation for the Ph.D. thesis, Ph.D. candidates must demonstrate an adequate knowledge of a language other than English if an additional language is deemed essential for satisfactory completion of research for the thesis.

Finally, students are required to complete an independent dissertation research project with the supervision of a committee, normally composed of three members. Students are required to defend successfully the dissertation proposal defense before starting their research. Students are expected to demonstrate their knowledge and the importance of the proposed research questions, the strategies for exploring the questions, and the likelihood of completing the research in a reasonable time frame. Further information on the dissertation research proposal can be found here. Throughout the process, students regularly consult with their committee members. Upon completion of the research project the final oral exam is scheduled. Ph.D. oral exams follow the School of Graduate Studies Policies and Procedures for the Principles and Practices of the Ph.D. Final Oral Exam [ http://www.sgs.utoronto.ca/Documents/FOE+Guideline.pdf ]

Throughout their Ph.D. program, students are expected to be involved in professors’ projects. In the last two years, about 81 Ph.D. students were paid research assistants. This work helps students gain first-hand experience in conducting research, from the formulation of the research question to the completion of the research paper. In most cases, students have the opportunity to present their work with professors at professional conferences and subsequently to publish this work.

Time Targets for the Sociology Ph.D. Program
The following are guidelines for completing the Ph.D. program in a timely manner. These are based on the department’s requirements as well as past students’ experience with moving through the program. The time targets assume entry from a M.A. program.

Year 1
Sept.

  • Select courses for the year, including Contemporary Theory, Intermediate Statistics and core courses in at least one Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam area.
  • Check in with designated advisor and agree on program/course requirements with advisor/supervisor.
  • Discuss program/course requirements with Graduate Director (if needed)
Oct.
  • Submit fellowship applications (OGS, SSHRC, etc.)
Jan.-April.
  • Continue coursework
  • Explore ideas for thesis in a general way as well as faculty candidates for thesis committee
  • Talk with potential supervisors for thesis
  • Decide on area for first Ph.D. comprehensive exam, create committee and compile reading list

May-Aug.
  • Study for and write first Ph.D. comprehensive exam
  • Develop idea for research paper to be completed in Year 2 Research Practicum course, as part of this consult with faculty teaching the Research Practicum
Year 2
Sept.

  • Select courses to complete Ph.D. course requirements, including full-year Research Practicum Course
Oct.
  • Submit fellowship applications (OGS, SSHRC, etc.)
Oct.-Dec.
  • Choose thesis supervisor and committee members (if not already done)
Jan.-May
  • Decide on second Ph.D. comprehensive exam area, create committee and compile
  • reading list
  • Work on developing thesis proposal
May-Aug.
  • If not already completed, complete second Ph.D. comprehensive exam
  • Consider, if possible and applicable, preliminary field work/data collection for
  • Ph.D. thesis
Year 3
Sept.

  • Select (if desired) courses supplementary to requirements that may help with completion of thesis
Oct.
  • Submit fellowship applications (OGS, SSHRC, etc.)
  • Ensure ethic review documents for Ph.D. thesis are prepared (if applicable)
  • Submit and defend thesis proposal, if not already completed.
Sept.-Dec.
  • Ensure all non-thesis requirements satisfied, in not already completed
  • School of Graduate Studies regulations require that all non-thesis requirements, including course work, comprehensive exams and Ph.D. proposal defense, are completed by the end of year 3.
Sept-June
  • Begin thesis work, including (if applicable) field work/data collection
Year 4-5
  • Thesis work
Oct.
  • Submit fellowship applications

Graduate