FAQs | Department of Sociology


Is a sociology masters degree required before a PhD?
Yes. Applicants for the PhD-only program must have completed a masters degree in sociology with a masters thesis. Phd applicants with masters degrees in other fields can request to place out of core masters-level courses such as statistics and methods if they have completed the relevant masters-level coursework in another field. The department can also accept transfer credits for sociology courses at all levels from other institutions (such as TWU).

How often are courses taught?
Required graduate courses are generally taught on a two-year course rotation, although some courses are offered on one- or three-year rotations depending on demand.

How should I choose my courses?
The core required graduate courses for the MA/MS and PhD must be taken at UNT, and should be taken whenever they are offered, as they are generally taught on a two-year course rotation. Texas Womans University (TWU) offers specialized elective graduate courses that may count toward your degree. The theory, methods, and statistics core courses must be taken at UNT.

Information about specific course requirements for each degree can be found in the degree plans on the Forms web page and also in the graduate catalog. The schedule of classes is available here.

The three core courses required for the masters degree (MA/MS) are: SOCI5050: Sociological Theory, SOCI5200: Research Methods and Design, and SOCI5210: Introduction to Social Statistics.

Can I begin graduate study in the spring semester?
All applicants are expected to begin study in the fall semester, although applications for spring admissions are considered on an ad hoc basis.

Are funds available for travel to conferences?
Yes. Priority (and higher funding levels) is given to students who request to present at the American Sociological Association (ASA) annual conference and other high-profile national and international conferences.

Are funds available for work during the summer?
Students should apply for summer TA funding late in the spring semester, and funding decisions are usually finalized in May. The department typically is able to fund about 10-11 graduate students in the summer, and the compensation ranges from about $2400 to $2800 for a 5-week position.

Does the department offer merit-based graduate scholarships?
Yes. The department offers a number of scholarships. Click here for details.

How important are grades in graduate courses?
Students are expected to earn A's and B's in graduate coursework. Earning C's and/or Withdrawals and Incompletes are grounds for withdrawal of funding and possible dismissal from the graduate program.

What is the expected timeline for completing the MA/MS and PhD for students who enter without a sociology masters?

Year 1

  • Take 18 hours of coursework, prioritizing required classes.
  • Develop relationships with 1-3 faculty members who may eventually serve on your advisory committees.

Fall: Choose a primary research topic. Find a faculty advisor.

Spring: Form advisory committee. Defend MA thesis proposal. File degree plan.

Year 2

  • Work with faculty advisor to set roadmap.
  • Take 18 hours of coursework.
  • Defend MA/MS thesis.
  • Apply to present research at one professional meeting.

Year 3

  • Take 18 hours of coursework.
  • Attend one professional meeting.
  • Submit an article related to thesis research to a journal.

Year 4

  • Finish coursework
  • Attend at least one professional meeting.

Fall: Complete qualifying paper. Form dissertation committee.

Spring: Defend Ph.D. dissertation proposal.

Year 5

  • Complete and defend dissertation.
  • Attend at least one professional meeting.
  • Submit at least one article related to dissertation research to a journal.

Timeline for PHD students with MA
Year 1

  • Choose a research topic.
  • Take 18 hours of coursework.
  • Develop relationships with 1-3 faculty members who might serve on your dissertation committee.
  • Form an advisory committee.
  • Find a faculty advisor.
  • Submit a paper related to Master's thesis.

Year 2

  • Finish coursework.
  • Complete qualifying paper.
  • Defend dissertation proposal.
  • Present at a professional conference.

Year 3

  • Complete and defend dissertation.
  • Submit at least one article related to dissertation research.
  • Present at a professional conference.

ABD (all but dissertation) status and registering for dissertation hours
Students must complete all coursework, have an approved qualifying paper (& QER form submitted to TGS) before they are recognized as ABD. Only then can they register for dissertation hours. If they have completed their coursework but haven't yet completed their qualifying paper, they will need to enroll in a Special Problems course with their Major Professor & do so each semester until they have an approved qualifying paper and are granted ABD status.

How is funding allocated?
Funding in the form of TG, TA, and TF positions is allocated based on merit and teaching experience. Not all students receive funding, but for students who are funded, the department strives to maintain funding through the second year of the Master's program. For students who come into the doctoral program with a Master's degree, the department strives to maintain funding through a total of three years in the graduate program. MA-PhD pass-through students in year six have lower priority for funding.

Funding details are provided elsewhere on the department website and in funding letters emailed to students individually. For students who work in the fall semester the first pay day will be October 1. For students working in the spring semester the first pay day is February 1.

The maximum funding available depends on the program entered:

Master's only: 4 semesters/2 years

PhD only: 6 semesters/3 years

Master's-PhD pass-through: 10 semesters/5 years

Unfunded students must complete the TG/TA/TF funding-request form available on the department website by March 1 prior to the academic year for which they are seeking funding.