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Sociology - Ph.D.

The Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology program is designed to prepare students for advanced research and teaching positions in the field. With a focus on original research and a diverse range of specializations, this program provides students with the skills needed to make a lasting impact in sociology.

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Message From Our Graduate Coordinator

Susan Roxburgh smiling with red framed glasses and a black and white striped shirt.
Dr. Susan Roxburgh
Professor & Graduate Coordinator

Thank you for your interest in the MA and PhD programs in Sociology and Criminology at Kent State University.  Our MA program was founded in 1939 and the PhD program was established in 1973.  Sociology has a venerable history at Kent State.  When the university first opened in 1912 as the Kent State Normal School the first semester consisted of four courses; Agriculture, History of Education, Psychology, and Sociology. 

Distinguished alumni of our graduate program include Oscar Ritchie, the first African American to attain the rank of full professor in the Ohio Education System; Glen H. Elder, the Howard Odum Research Professor of Sociology at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Bertice Berry, award-winning entertainer, lecturer and comedienne; Neal Krause, Professor Emeritus and Marshall H. Becker Collegiate Professor of Public Health, University of Michigan; Annette Schwabe, Professor, Florida State University, and Kathleen Piker-King, Professor, Mount Union University. For information on students currently on the job market please see our Grad Students on the Market webpage. For a description of where our recent graduates are working, see our Recent Grads in the World webpage.

The Sociology Department is housed in Merrill Hall which is the oldest permanent structure on the Kent campus and the first academic building on the campus.  As our home since the building was renovated in 1995, Merrill Hall houses state-of-the-art research facilities, including the Survey Research Laboratory and the Electrophysiological Neuroscience Laboratory.  

The Ph.D. program at Kent State University focuses on four main areas:

Our graduate program gives students a specialized background in one of these areas along with a broad base of knowledge in the core areas of research methods, statistics, and classical and contemporary theory. More information about our graduate program (including details about how to apply, when to apply, etc.) are available on our prospective students page. If you have any questions not covered by the FAQs, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Dr. Susan Roxburgh
Graduate Coordinator

Program Information

Learning Outcomes

Program Learning Outcomes

Graduates of this program will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of sociological theory by using it to better understand social phenomena and human behavior, develop new theoretical arguments and pose and attempt to answer research questions.
  2. Demonstrate a an advanced understanding of research methods in sociology, including both quantitative methods (e.g., survey, experimental) and qualitative methods (e.g., participant observation, content analysis).
  3. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of statistics in application to social research, including advanced techniques (e.g., structural equation modeling, hierarchical linear modeling).
  4. Demonstrate the ability to synthesize complex scientific literatures and execute sophisticated original research through the successful completion of a dissertation project.

For more information about graduate admissions, visit the graduate admission website. For more information on international admissions, visit the international admission website.

Admission Requirements

  • Master's degree from an accredited college or university1
  • Minimum 2.750 GPA on a 4.000-point scale
  • Official transcripts(s)
  • GRE scores (taken within the last five years)
  • Goal statement (1-2 pages), describing current academic interests, research interests, long-range career goals and how admission will facilitate the achievement of these goals
  • Three letters of recommendation from current/former professors who can adequately evaluate the applicant's past work and potential
  • English language proficiency - all international students must provide proof of English language proficiency (unless they meet specific exceptions to waive) by earning one of the following:2
    • Minimum 94 TOEFL iBT score
    • Minimum 7.0 IELTS score
    • Minimum 65 PTE score
    • Minimum 120 DET score

Applications for admission are accepted from those who will have a completed a master's degree upon starting the program. It is limited to students whose records clearly indicate both scholarly and research potential to do doctoral-level work.


International applicants who do not meet the above test scores will not be considered for admission.

Application Deadlines

  • Fall Semester
    • Priority deadline: December 1
      Applications submitted by this deadline will receive the strongest consideration for admission.

Program Requirements

Major Requirements

Major Requirements
Electives 316
Culminating Requirement
Minimum Total Credit Hours:60

All students who entered the program with an M.A. degree earned at another institution must take SOC 72002. This course will not be waived.


Each doctoral candidate, upon admission to candidacy, must register for SOC 82199 for a total of 30 credit hours. It is expected that a doctoral candidate will continuously register for SOC 82199, and thereafter SOC 82299, each semester, until all requirements for the degree have been met. After completing the dissertation, students must successfully defend it in an oral examination. The exam will include an evaluation of theory, methodology, analysis and other topics relevant to the student's specialty area.


Students who have already completed a master's degree in sociology are required to take a minimum of 16 elective credit hours, 9 of which must be in a specialization area.


No more than 6 credit hours of SOC 72896 and/or SOC 72898 may be applied toward the degree as elective credit. No more than 6 credit hours of graduate-level coursework outside the department may be applied toward the degree as elective credit. These limits include courses taken while earning a master’s degree in sociology.

Candidacy Requirement

To earn the Ph.D. degree, students must pass the doctoral candidacy examination. The examination will include an evaluation of theory, methodology, analysis and other topics relevant to the student’s specialty area.

Graduation Requirements

Minimum Major GPA Minimum Overall GPA
- 3.000
Program Delivery
  • Delivery:
    • In person
  • Location:
    • Kent Campus

Examples of Possible Careers and Salaries

Social science research assistants


faster than the average


number of jobs


potential earnings



about as fast as the average


number of jobs


potential earnings

Sociology teachers, postsecondary


about as fast as the average


number of jobs


potential earnings

Notice: Career Information Source
* Source of occupation titles and labor data comes from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook. Data comprises projected percent change in employment over the next 10 years; nation-wide employment numbers; and the yearly median wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less.