PhD Concentration Area & Qualifying Paper | Department of Sociology

PhD Concentration Area & Qualifying Paper

Doctoral Concentration Area

All doctoral students must choose a concentration area in consultation with their major advisor and advisory committee. It is recommended, but not required, that students select a concentration area aligned with the American Sociological Association's current sections.

Doctoral Qualifying Paper Requirement

Students must complete a qualifying paper to advance to PhD candidacy (ABD status). While students may work on their qualifying papers in their final semester of course work, their committee cannot submit a qualifying exam report (QER) to the department or Toulouse Graduate School before completing all doctoral coursework on their official degree plan.

The purpose of the qualifying paper is to determine the student's grasp of foundational works, the current state of the literature, and how the student's proposal expands on the latter. The committee should have some indication if the proposed study is 1) feasible in the general time frame provided and 2) advances the literature, either theoretically or methodologically, in notable new ways that are not addressed by current studies.

All qualifying papers must include all of the following:

1. Clear statement of concentration

2. Structured literature review

a. Review of foundational research

b. Review of contemporary research

c. Identification of gaps in theory and methods

d. Development of preliminary research questions

3. Written timeline for degree completion

Other requirements:

Minimum 15-20 pages excluding notes and references (1" margins, single spaced, Times New Roman, 12-point font, with references in ASA format). Qualifying papers below this department minimum will not be accepted or approved by committee members.

The qualifying paper committee is the student's advisory committee as indicated on their approved degree plan.

A successful defense is a necessary benchmark to move to the prospectus stage and graduate in a timely manner. To receive a 'pass' on the qualifying paper, it must be approved by all members of the advisory committee following the outline above. The advisory committee consists of a minimum of three members, two of whom must be members of the UNT Department of Sociology. For this reason, it is important for students to communicate regularly with members as they write and revise their defense.

The committee can require students to revise their submission and resubmit it. Resubmissions have a time frame of one month to address the comments of committee members.