Course of Study

Our graduate curriculum emphasizes an apprenticeship program centered on close working relationships between faculty and students. To encourage this, the program is limited to 4-5 entering Ph.D. students per year, selected for their potential to become successful professional sociologists. Students take standard graduate courses (theory, methods, elective seminars), but they also:

(a) Work with professors on research immediately and continually
(b) Acquire mastery of both quantitative and qualitative research, enabling sophisticated mixed-methods research
(c) Take an empirical seminar designed to help them write the masters thesis in close collaboration with professors
(d) Attend workshops in statistical computer programming
(e) Participate in a 1 credit teaching practicum, followed by teaching their own course to undergraduates, and
(f) Attend monthly professionalization workshops throughout their graduate training.

Core Requirements and a Proposed Plan-of-Study can be found in the Sociology section of the Rice University General Announcements.

First Year

This first year consists of full-time course work, including required courses in research methods, classical social theory, and social statistics, along with elective seminars and a lab in statistical computer programming for the social sciences. Importantly, students will begin working immediately with at least one professor in their area of interest on research projects that can lead to published work.

Second Year

The second year also consists of full-time course work, and includes required courses in contemporary social theory, qualitative research methods, and advanced statistical techniques. Students participate in a teaching practicum experience, and are given structured time to develop and write their thesis. The masters thesis is typically completed at the end of the second year. This should be a publishable length paper, suitable for submission to a scholarly research journal.

Third Year

As well as taking further elective coursework, graduate students must pass comprehensive written exams in two substantive areas. Written exams will be administered in April of the sixth semester at Rice. The dissertation proposal may also be defended in the second semester of this year, or before the first day of classes in the following fall. The thought and planning for this proposal are the culmination of graduate training, and the beginning of a student’s independent identity as a scholar.

Years Four and Five

After PhD candidacy is granted, students may commence work on their dissertation. As final evidence of preparation for the PhD degree, the candidate must pass a public oral examination on the dissertation. We envision the dissertation being either a monograph, suitable for publication as a book, or structured for publication as three research papers, once completed.

Teaching and Professionalization Workshop

Meeting 7-8 times each year, the workshop covers a wide range of topics designed to help students prepare for the range of roles and obligations involved with a career as a professional sociologist. Relevant topics include: writing a CV, how to construct a job talk, successful grant and foundation applications, constructing a course, how to write recommendations, and how to balance work, family, and other areas of life.