In the Current Students section you will find information for current students of the Sociology Ph.D. program. Please review the Graduate Student Handbook and the FAQs below. If you have additional questions, please contact the graduate coordinator, Dr. William Kalkhoff.
What is an advisor's role? Who should I choose?
Your advisor should be a faculty member whose areas of specialization correspond to your own. Aside from providing general advice and support as you move through the program, your advisor will serve as the chair of your thesis and dissertation.
When should I declare an advisor?
No later than the end of the spring semester of the first year.
Can I choose an advisor from either campus (Kent or Akron)?
Can I change my advisor?
Yes, you may do so at any time using the Declaration or Change of Advisor form available on the Graduate Student Forms and Resources page.
What is the process of advancement to candidacy?
Advancement to candidacy is accomplished when the student has written and successfully defended a Candidacy Paper and passed an oral examination. Advancement to candidacy is a 4-step process described below (see Graduate Handbook for further details). Throughout the first three years of the program, the student should work with their advisor to identify appropriate courses that are in the students’ areas of interest. As the student completes these courses, they should be noted on the “Coursework Approval Form.” As soon as the student has completed the coursework in both their areas, they should submit this form to their graduate director / coordinator.
- Identify Focus/Topic and Committee Membership: Doctoral students should identify one primary area of study from their two chosen program areas. This program area, should in turn, be narrowed to a specific substantive focus. Once this focus has been identified a Candidacy Committee Request Form must be submitted to the Graduate Director.
- Write Candidacy Proposal: The student submits a Candidacy Proposal that should not exceed 2500 words (about 10 pages) to her or his committee. The proposal is a description of the research agenda and the projects that will be developed in the longer Candidacy research proposal paper which should not exceed 9000 words (about 35 pages). Each committee member will send a short, journal-style critical evaluation of the candidate’s general plan to the committee chair. The chair will collate all of the reviews and pass them on to the student. The student is expected to address the committee’s feedback in the form of a supplementary response memo in which the student explains how the committee members’ critiques have been addressed.
- Write Candidacy Paper: The student completes the Candidacy Paper as specified in the Advancement to Candidacy Timeline. The length the paper should not exceed 9000 words (about 35 pages) is exclusive of bibliography, tables, or appendices. The purpose of the paper is to provide the student with the opportunity to develop their expertise in a sub-field of one of the department’s program areas. The research proposal should include a review of the literature of the student’s substantive focus as well as a description of at least two research projects that represent the student’s research agenda.
- Take Candidacy Oral Examination: The final requirement of the candidacy process is the oral examination lasting approximately two hours and conducted by the committee.
What is the timeline for completing the candidacy exam process?
To be considered to be making adequate progress in the program, students should complete this process in their third year; this is expected for students who enter the program with an MA degree, although students who enter with a BA might start in the spring of the third year and finish in the fall of the fourth year.
- End of the Third Week of the First Semester: Complete the Candidacy Committee Request Form – Submit to Graduate Coordinator/Director of home campus
- End of the Fifth Week of the First Semester: Submit Candidacy Proposal to the committee.
- End of the Ninth Week of the First Semester: Chair will distribute committee reviews to student
- End of the Ninth Week of the Second Semester: Candidacy Paper and response memo due to the committee.
- End of the Fifteenth Week of the Second Semester: Last date to complete Oral Exam
What classes do I have to take?
All students working toward earning a Ph.D. in our department must take a number of required courses as well as a certain number of elective hours. Students must take three courses (9 hours) in a first/primary area and three courses (9 hours) in a second area of concentration. Please see the Graduate Handbook for additional details.
What grades do I need to get to stay in the program?
Graduate students must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA. Furthermore, students who earn more than 8 hours of B- or lower grades or more than 4 hours of grades lower than C are subject to dismissal. Courses where a student earns a C- or lower do not count toward the degree and must be repeated.
What are the minimum and maximum number of hours I can take per semester?
Students normally take 9 or 10 hours (three classes) per semester. Funded students must take at least 8 hours during the fall and spring semesters A course load above 16 hours is considered an overload and must be approved by both the Graduate Education Committee (first) and the Associate Dean for Graduate Affairs. Requests exceeding 18 hours will not be approved. Requests for overloads must be made to the graduate coordinator.
How many hours of 50000-level coursework can I apply toward my degree?
No more than three (3) hours.
How many individual investigations (6/72896) and research hours (6/72898) can I apply toward my degree?
Three (3) hours. An additional three (3) hours may be granted under special circumstances and only by permission of the Graduate Education Committee (GEC).
How many hours of courses taken outside the department can I apply toward my degree?
6 hours total, with pre-approval from the GEC (see the Graduate Handbook for more details). Approval must be obtained before enrolling in the course(s).
Can I take other classes while I am enrolled in Thesis (I or II) or Dissertation (I or II) hours?
Students can take other classes while enrolled in Thesis I or II hours, but students may NOT take other courses while enrolled in Dissertation I or II hours without special approval from the GEC. Students who wish to take other courses while enrolled in Dissertation I or II hours must begin by making a written (e-mail) request to the Graduate Coordinator and include the rationale for the request. Only in rare circumstances will such requests be approved.
Do I need to take hours in the summer, and if so, what do I take and for how many hours?
We do not have summer assistantships, so students are not expected to be enrolled full-time during summer. However, if you have started a thesis or dissertation, you do need to be continuously enrolled. If you have completed 6 hours of Thesis I, then you register for 2 hours of Thesis II during the summer. If you started Thesis I and only completed 3 hours in spring, then you need to register for 3 hours of Thesis I in the summer. If you completed your 30 hours of Dissertation I requirements in Fall and Spring (i.e., 15 in the fall and 15 in the spring), then you take 15 hours of Dissertation II in the summer. If Dissertation I is started in spring (for 15 hours), then you must continue to take Dissertation I in the summer (for 15 hours).
These are the university requirements. There may be other circumstances in which a student is required to take a certain number of hours in summer (e.g., a certain financial aid agreement). It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that they are meeting the conditions of their enrolment.
Theses & Dissertations
All students are responsible for meeting the university deadlines for graduation (e.g., the deadline for defending a thesis in order to graduate in a given semester). Please check these deadlines prior to setting a defense date with your advisor and/or the graduate coordinator.
See the Graduate Handbook for further details.
How many members are required for an M.A. thesis committee?
Three (the thesis chair and two other members).
Can the members of a M.A. thesis committee be from the Akron sociology department?
Yes. In the joint program, the chair and other members of the student's M.A. thesis committee can be partially or entirely from Akron sociology.
Do I need to do a proposal/prospectus defense for my M.A. thesis?
Yes. The proposal/prospectus defense should occur no sooner than the semester before you plan to defend your completed thesis. With the approval of your advisor, the proposal should be submitted to your entire committee at least 10 days prior to the scheduled proposal defense. You should also bring a copy of the "Notification of Approved Thesis Topic" form to your prospectus defense and have it signed by all committee members if they approve your project. This form is available on the Graduate Student Forms and Resources page.
What do I need to do in preparation for my M.A. thesis defense?
There are a number of forms that need to be filled out at and after your defense (see the Graduate Student Forms and Docs page for these forms). In addition, with the approval of your advisor, your thesis should be submitted to your committee at least 10 days prior to your scheduled defense date. You are also required to advertise the final defense. See the Graduate Handbook for further details.
When should I defend my M.A. thesis?
By the end of your second year in the program (for adequate progress).
After I advance to candidacy, how much time do I have to complete my dissertation?
Graduate students must complete the dissertation within five years of advancing to candidacy.
What steps are involved in completing my dissertation?
Please consult the Graduate Handbook for further details on completing the dissertation.
How long do I have to complete the entire program?
While we aim to have students complete our program in five years, students seeking the doctoral degree who enter the Sociology graduate program with a B.A. must complete the requirements for the degree in no more than 10 years, while those entering with an M.A. must complete the requirements in no more than nine years. Those who do not may be subject to dismissal and must submit a written request (preferably via e-mail) to the Graduate Coordinator and include (a) an explanation of why an extension is needed), and (b) a timeline for completion of the degree. The request must be approved by the GEC and subsequently by the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies.