Overview of the program

For detailed course descriptions, please refer to UCLA General Catalog

In the first two years the student customarily will satisfy the course requirements for the M.A. degree and write a Master’s Paper that is evaluated by the Department in the student's sixth quarter of residence. During the first year of graduate study, and no later than the second week of instruction of the student's fourth quarter of residence, the student is expected to form a two‑person Master’s Committee to help him/her prepare the Master’s Paper. The Master’s Committee will assume all advising responsibilities for the student.

In the quarter following acceptance of a student's Master’s Paper, usually at the beginning of the third year, s/he must submit a study plan to the Director of Graduate Studies via the Graduate Advisor specifying two of the following field examinations and a timetable for completing these examinations:

Field Exams

Comparative Ethnicity, Race and Nationalism

Conversation Analysis

Economic Sociology

Ethnographic Methodology


International Migration

Political Sociology


Social Demography

Social Stratification and Social Mobility

Sociology of Culture

Sociology of Gender

Sociology of the Family

Sociology of Medicine & Science

Urban and Suburban Sociology

Each field exam has a group of participating faculty, a faculty coordinator, a series of required and/or recommended courses, and bibliographies of required and supplementary readings. Field exams are offered quarterly, and usually are administered and evaluated by a committee selected annually by the faculty participating in that field exam specialty. Students take two such field examinations, generally in the third year and first portion of the fourth year of graduate study. Then, after passing an Oral Qualifying Examination, the student may begin the dissertation.


Foreign Language Requirement

There is no departmental foreign language requirement for the Master's or the Ph.D. degrees. However, specific field examination areas may require students to demonstrate mastery of a language other than English before taking that field exam. Students may demonstrate proficiency in another language by one of the following means: completing, with a grade of B or better, two years of undergraduate courses in the language selected or intermediate level at UCLA (e.g., Spanish 5), or completing, with a grade of "Pass" two quarters of a graduate reading course offered by a UCLA language department (1G, 2G series). International students whose native language is other than English may offer English as their second language simply by notifying the coordinator of the relevant field exam and the Graduate Advisor.


Course requirements for the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees

In addition to the Departmental requirements, some field examinations have their own course requirements for students who plan to take that field exam.

Before the Master’s Paper Review. Departmental Requirements for All Students.

Total number of required courses: nine (36 units) graduate level plus Sociology 201ABC (6 units)

(1) Sociology 201ABC Pro‑Seminar in Sociology. This course is an introduction to the variety of research conducted by departmental faculty. It must be taken in the first year.

(2) Sociology 202AB Theory and Research in Sociology.

This course, an examination of the interrelations of theory, method, and substance in classical and substantively‑focused contemporary works, must be taken in the first year.

(3) Sociology 204 Topics in Sociological Theorizing. One of the courses offered in this series must be taken within the first two years.

(4) One two‑quarter graduate level methodology sequence from those numbered Sociology 208AB, 211AB to 213AB, 216AB, 217BC, and C244AB. In choosing a methodology sequence, the student should note that some of the field examinations require or recommend particular methodology sequences.

If the student has equivalent graduate‑level methodological training elsewhere, s/he should file a petition with the Director of Graduate Studies via the Graduate Affairs Advisor for exemption from the methodology requirement (along with pertinent evidence and an advisor's recommendation).

(5) Four 200 level courses in Sociology, excluding 201ABC, 202AB, 204, and the methods sequences 208AB, 211AB to 213AB, 216AB, 217BC, and C244AB.

(6) See below for recommendations about the timing of the statistics requirement.

Statistics ‑ Required for post‑MA Field Examination

Sociology 210AB (8 units) must be completed before students can take the first field exam (typically in the third year). Students are advised to take 210AB early in their graduate training. Those with interests in areas with substantial quantitative literature should take 210AB and 210C in their first year.

After the Master’s Paper Review: Departmental Requirements for All Students.

Total number of required courses: two (8 units)

An additional methodology sequence (from the series Sociology 208AB, 211AB to 213AB, 216AB, 217BC, C244AB) must be completed before the awarding of the Ph.D. degree. Some field examinations specify required or recommended methodology sequences. In order to ensure breadth and diversity of methodological training, only one of 212AB and 216AB can meet the two methodology sequence requirement.

After the Master’s Review: Course Requirements and Preparation for Field Examinations.

Students are required to take and pass field examinations in two of the areas listed below. Students should contact the Graduate Advisor or field examination coordinators for more specific details of the requirements and procedures of each such area.


A. Comparative Ethnicity, and Nationalism

(Students who have previously taken exams in the related race and ethnicity or international migration fields must submit questions previously answered at the time when they declare the intent to take this exam; overlapping questions will not be allowed.)

Required: Sociology 230ABC Comparative Ethnicity, Race and Nationalism

B. Conversation Analysis
Required Courses: Sociology 244AB Conversational Structures I & II, Sociology C258 Talk and Social Institutions.
Recommended Courses: Sociology 289A Practicum in Conversation Analysis

C.  Economic Sociology 
Required Courses: There are no required courses for this field examination.
Recommended Courses:  Sociology 260 Economy and Society, is the cornerstone course for this exam. Students are strongly encouraged to take it. Other recommended courses include Sociology 237 Comparative Social Analysis, Sociology 254 Forms of Capital: Human, Cultural, and Social, Sociology 259 Social Structure and Economic Change: Historical and Comparative Perspectives; and special topics courses in economic sociology, e.g. Sociology 265 Organization Theory, Sociology 285 Sociology of Labor and Unionism.

D. Ethnographic Methodology

Required: Sociology 217A Analyzing Ethnographies, Sociology 217BC Ethnographic Fieldwork, and one substantive graduate course in ethnographic studies directed by a member associated with the exam.

E. Ethnomethodology

Recommended: Sociology 222 Foundations of Ethnomethodological, Phenomenological and Observational Sociology.

F. International Migration

(Students who have previously taken exams in the related race and ethnicity or comparative ethnicity and nationalism fields must submit questions previously answered at the time when they declare the intent to take this exam; overlapping questions will not be allowed.)

Required: Sociology 236AB International Migration, at least two quarters of Sociology 295 (section for migration working group)

Recommended: Sociology 236C International Migration, Sociology 230AB Comparative Ethnicity and Nationalism, Sociology 235 Theories of Ethnicity, Sociology 261, Ethnic Minorities.  In addition, students planning to do dissertation work in this area are encouraged to take substantive courses focusing on the broader thematic field with which the study of international migration connects.  In particular, we recommend courses in demography, stratification, political sociology, and economic sociology.

G. Political Sociology

Required: Sociology 233 Foundation of Political Sociology

Recommended: Sociology 230AB Comparative Ethnicity and Nationalism, Sociology 232 Class, Politics & Society, Sociology 237 Theory and Research in Comparative Social Analysis, Sociology 272 Topics in Political Sociology, any Sociology 285 on relevant topic.

H. Social Demography

Required: Sociology M213A Introduction to Demographic Methods, Sociology M213B Applied Event History Analysis, Sociology 226AB Introduction to Theory & Major Empirical Research in Social Demography.

Recommended: Sociology 210C Intermediate Statistical Methods III, Sociology 212AB Survey Data Analysis, other seminars related to social demography, Sociology 295, CCPR working group.

I. Race/Ethnicity
Required courses: Sociology 235 Theories of Ethnicity, Sociology 261 Ethnic Minorities.  In the event both of these courses are not offered the same year, students should take 235 or 261 AND one of the recommended courses (see below).
Recommended courses: Sociology 230 Comparative Ethnicity, Race, and Nationalism, Sociology 236B International Migration.

J. Social Stratification and Social Mobility

Recommended: Sociology 239AB Quantitative Research on Social Stratification and Social Mobility, Sociology M263 Social Stratification.

K. Sociology of Culture

Required: Sociology 245 Cultural Sociology: Classical and Contemporary Approaches, Sociology 246 Sociology of Culture.

L. Sociology of the Family

Recommended: At least two courses from among the following:  Sociology 205 Family and Social Change, Sociology 226B Introduction to Theory and Major Empirical Research in Social Demography, Sociology M252 Selected Topics in Sociology of Gender, Sociology 257 Demography of Marriage Formation and Dissolution. The content of these courses will vary across instructors, as will their relevance to the Sociology of the Family field exam.

M. Sociology of Gender

Required: Any two courses offered by affiliated faculty that concern gender issues, e.g., Sociology M238 Feminist Theory, Sociology 241 Theories of Gender and Society, Sociology M252 Selected Topics in the Sociology of Gender.  Courses taught in other departments can also be used for this requirement with the approval of the director of the field exam committee and the student's faculty advisor.

N. Urban and Suburban Sociology

Required: Sociology C297 Urban and Suburban Sociology of the U.S.


Master's paper

No later than in their sixth quarter of residence graduate students must submit an acceptable Master’s paper for approval by the general faculty. The paper must demonstrate the student's general competence in sociological theory, methodology, and one substantive area.

As early in the graduate career as possible, each student will select two faculty members who consent to serve as his/her Master’s Committee. Faculty serving should represent a broad range of professional interests. Formation of the Master’s Committee may not be postponed beyond the beginning of the fourth quarter of residence in graduate work. For more specific guidelines, deadlines, and procedures regarding the Master’s review, contact the Graduate Advisor.

In consultation with and on the advice of this committee, the student shall develop a paper, probably initially written for a course, demonstrating intellectual attainment. The paper should show that the student (a) has an accurate grasp of the intellectual traditions of sociology, (b) can bring evidence to bear on theoretical problems, c) can describe how some aspect of the social order works, and (d) can handle research and methodological issues adequately. The main concern is with the student's capacity to do Ph.D. level work.

A student is allowed two years from entrance into the Department to qualify for the M.A. degree. The student's Master’s Committee may nominate a student at the beginning of any quarter if they feel that the student's paper is ready for faculty approval. However, it is expected and strongly recommended that the paper be completed by the second week of class in a student’s sixth quarter of the program (In most cases, a student’s sixth quarter in the program coincides with the spring quarter).  The paper should be submitted to the graduate advisor at that time; simultaneously, the M.A. committee must send a narrative evaluation of the paper to the Graduate Committee (GC).

If the research project required IRB approval (i.e., involved research on human subjects), the student must submit a copy of the IRB approval as well at that time.

If the M.A. committee concludes that the paper needs minor revisions before it is acceptable, the committee must subsequently submit a revised paper and a second narrative evaluation by the end of the sixth week.

It is possible that the paper and its evaluation will not be ready for submission by the end of the second week of the student’s sixth quarter.  In that case, the M.A. committee must send a narrative evaluation to that effect, and consideration of the case is then postponed to the next quarter.

Papers postponed to the seventh quarter must be submitted to the graduate advisor and GC, along with the M.A. committee’s narrative evaluation, by the second week of class in that quarter.  There will be no further extensions beyond this point:  failure to submit the paper by the deadline would normally result in the student’s dismissal from the program. 

At the time of the transmission of the paper to the graduate advisor, the M.A. committee will send an evaluation of the paper to the GC, indicating whether to pass the paper; or reject it outright.  The evaluation will include a full characterization of the paper, highlighting strengths and weaknesses, and drawing lessons for the student’s future career in the program.

Based on the advisors’ evaluation of the paper and its own review of the student’s academic record, the GC will make a recommendation to the department at a faculty meeting about whether or not to award the M.A. degree, and whether or not to encourage advancement to the PhD program.  In making its recommendation, the GC will solicit information from the advisors and other knowledgeable faculty members.  The GC will make its recommendation no later than the eighth week of the quarter in which the paper is submitted.

Diffusion of relevant information to faculty: Titles of papers, 150 word abstracts, the names of the committee members, the committee’s evaluation of the paper, and the recommendation of the GC on the awarding of the MA and advancement to the PhD program will be distributed to the full faculty well in advance of the MA review meeting.  All of this material will be on file in the Graduate Advisor’s office, available for inspection by interested colleagues.

Any student entering graduate studies at UCLA with an M.A. degree in Sociology from another institution will normally come up for a Master’s review in the first quarter of residence at UCLA, and under no circumstances later than the third quarter of residence. In this review, the Department will determine whether or not the student may proceed directly to preparation for the field examinations, whether additional courses need to be taken for breadth purposes, whether the submitted paper needs additional work, or whether an additional paper needs to be done, and whether theory and methodology sequence requirements have been adequately satisfied. In addition to a paper of normally no more than 50 double spaced pages, which can be based on an M.A. thesis written at another university, such a student should submit for the Master’s review a transcript from the university at which the M.A. degree was earned so that we can determine whether the requirements ordinarily constraining students in the first years of our program have been met.


Field Examinations

The Department requires every student to pass two Field Examinations before taking the Oral Qualifying Examination for the Ph.D. A student who fails a field examination may retake the examination only once. The emphasis here is on mastery and depth of understanding in two areas of specialized study.

Field examinations may be developed and administered by any group of three or more faculty members. Field examinations are demanding, rigorous, and address broad areas of sociological research and theory. Some field exam areas are rooted in the great traditions of sociological thought; others cover newly developing and innovative bodies of theory and research. All new field examinations, as well as any changes proposed in existing examinations, are reviewed and approved by the Graduate Committee (GC).

Examinations will be offered quarterly, on demand. They will be offered (or will begin, in the case of take home exams) on Friday of the second week of instruction each quarter, and on Friday of the fourth week after the official end of spring quarter. Please consult the annual exam schedule for exact dates posted on the departmental website and outside the Graduate office.  Students must sign up for examinations by informing the Graduate Advisor and the Field Examination Coordinator for that selected field no later than two weeks prior to the exam is to be taken. Some field exams require faculty approval of reading lists. These and related requirements should be completed before a student signs up to take that exam.

For the exam to be valid, examination questions must be submitted to the Graduate Advisor for distribution to the examinees. Completed examinations must be returned to the Graduate Advisor by the specified deadline for distribution to the faculty responsible for grading them. Examination results for each field examination are to be reported to the student, the student’s advisors, and the Graduate Advisor within four weeks from the beginning of the exam.

In the first week of the quarter following acceptance of a student’s Master’s Paper, the student must submit a study plan to the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) specifying two field examinations and a timetable for completing them. The DGS must approve each student’s proposed examinations. The DGS will assess whether the two proposed fields, considered in tandem, are rigorous, coherent, and broad; plans that involve fields with substantial overlap will not be approved. Any proposed revision of an approved field examination plan must be endorsed by the student’s adviser and approved by the DGS. Such proposals must be submitted to the DGS at least four weeks before the beginning of the quarter in which the student intends to take an exam not previously included in the field examination plan.

Oral qualifying examinations

If the performance on the field examinations is satisfactory, the student must nominate a doctoral committee and proceed to take the Oral Qualifying Examination. This examination may range over general sociology, the student's specific fields, and the student's dissertation plans. It is given by the doctoral committee not later than six months after the completion of the written examination. The student must submit a 2‑page abstract of the dissertation proposal to the Graduate Advisor for distribution to faculty and students within two weeks of the oral qualifying examination.

In addition to the 2‑page abstract, a full‑length dissertation proposal shall be required at the time of the preliminary oral examination. A dissertation proposal approved by the committee must be filed with the Department reasonably soon after the preliminary orals. In the event of a major revision in the topic or methodology of the dissertation, a revised prospectus approved by the committee is required, and will be filed in the same manner as the original prospectus. Minor changes in the methodology and hypotheses, which normally take place as a student carries out the dissertation research, do not call for a revised prospectus.

Students who successfully complete both Written and Oral Qualifying Examinations will advance to candidacy upon submitting the report form on the oral qualifying exam to the Graduate Division. They then will be billed for the candidacy fee.


500-series course limitations

Courses in the 500 series (595, 597, 599) normally are taken in preparation for the Master’s Review, for the Field Examinations or Oral Qualifying Examination, and for dissertation research. 596 normally is taken in order to enable individual study and research under a faculty member's supervision and guidance.

Students in their fourth and fifth quarter of residence must enroll in 595 with their MA committee chair. While these courses may be taken to maintain enrollment, they do not count toward the course requirements.


Final oral examination following completion of the dissertation


The optional Final Oral Examination for the Ph.D. degree is given by the doctoral committee not later than six months after the completion of the dissertation. The Final Oral Examination will not be scheduled until sufficient time has been allowed for all committee members to read the dissertation critically, and until both committee members and the student agree that the dissertation is in final and defensible form. The judgment at this time does not preclude a subsequent decision that the dissertation requires revision or is unacceptable on the basis of the findings of the oral examination. The examination centers around the dissertation, the field in which it is written, and the relation of this field to the discipline of sociology as a whole.

A decision to waive the final examination is optional on the part of the student's Ph.D. committee and must be consistent with the policies of the Graduate Council.


Time to degree

(a) From graduate admission to completion of the Master’s Review (i.e., the Master's degree stage): six quarters.

(b) From completion of Master’s paper to Field Examinations: four quarters.

(c) From Field Examination to first Oral Examination: two quarters.

(d) The Dissertation and Final Oral Examination (if required) should be completed during the fifth and sixth years of graduate study.

(e) Normative time‑to‑degree for the Ph.D.: 18 quarters.


Candidate in philosophy degree

Candidates for this degree must conform to the general requirements set by the Graduate Division for the C. Phil. degree. It should be emphasized that the granting of the C. Phil degree does not solely depend upon the satisfactory completion of a specified number of courses. The candidate must demonstrate competence as a research scholar and the ability to give instruction in his/her field.

In addition to the general requirements set by the Graduate Division, every prospective candidate for the C. Phil. degree must have completed all of the above listed departmental requirements for the Ph.D. degree other than the filing of the dissertation and the final (optional) oral examination.

Two steps will ensure that the C.Phil. is not a terminal degree:

(a) Not less than one week prior to the oral examination, all students are required to distribute a 2‑page abstract of the dissertation to the entire faculty of the Department for their information and comment.

(b) Reasonably soon after the oral examination, and before the Department certifies approval of the C.Phil. degree, the student must file a final version of the dissertation prospectus, which is acceptable to the doctoral committee.

The departmental time limit between advancement to candidacy and award of the Ph.D. degree is seven years, during which time students who hold the C.Phil. will automatically be readmitted to graduate standing if they withdraw during the interval.


Disqualification and appeal of disqualification

If a student is to be disqualified (terminated) from the graduate program for reasons other than failure to maintain a grade point average greater than 3.0, the decision regarding such a termination is generally made at the departmental level by the full faculty at its quarterly Master’s paper review meeting or the annual student review meeting. A recommendation for termination may be forwarded to that meeting by the Graduate Committee, which serves as the review body making recommendations to the full faculty concerning disposition of candidacies for completion of the Master’s Paper and awarding of M.A. degrees. The elected Executive Committee of the Department is the established mechanism by which a student may appeal for a review of the disposition of his/her case; and the Executive Committee may make a recommendation for reconsideration to the Department where it deems such reconsideration warranted. The Departmental By‑Laws provide for an alternative method of appeal to full faculty review of Executive Committee action, by way of the regulation (By‑Laws, Item #13) that two voting faculty members are empowered jointly to request a faculty meeting on any action within the Department.

Specific conditions that may lead to termination include (1) submission of graduate work which is, in the judgment of the full faculty review unsatisfactory for either the granting of the M.A. degree or further pursuit of the doctorate; (2) making unsatisfactory progress toward the completion of the student's Master’s Paper and/or doctoral work (e.g., requiring repeated extensions of time for completion of program requirements; receiving numerous "Incomplete" grades, and/or failure to remove such "Incompletes"); (3) repeated failure to pass any of the several required steps in doctoral studies (e.g., specialty field examinations, oral examination); or (4) failure to complete doctoral work within the required time limit (within seven years after advancement to candidacy).



On the basis of mutual or similar interests, the Director of Graduate Studies assigns entering graduate students a faculty member as an entrance advisor for the first year.  Students may change advisers at any time if they find another faculty member who agrees to serve as the new adviser.  Toward the end of the first year, students begin to look for two faculty members to serve on their MA committees during the second year and are expected to formally appoint the committee in the fourth quarter of residence (ordinarily fall quarter of the second year).  The Master’s Committee will help the student prepare the Master’s Paper and take on the role of advisors.  In the quarter following acceptance of the Master’s Paper, usually at the beginning of the third year, students select their advisors who will guide them through the next phase in their studies.  This post-M.A. advisor can be one of the M.A. committee members or a different faculty member and most likely will become a member of the doctoral committee.  After successful completion of the field exams students must nominate the doctoral committee.  The chair of the doctoral committee will become the primary advisor.


Ethical Code of Conduct for Graduate Students and Graduate Student Instructors  [1]

The Department of Sociology expects its graduate students to adhere to a general code of conduct.  The following statement of expectations draws heavily from the university’s general policy regarding faculty code of conduct (APM-015) and applies especially to graduate students who serve as teaching assistants or instructors.

Ethical Principles

The integrity of the graduate student instructor-undergraduate student relationship is crucial to the University’s educational mission.  This relationship vests considerable trust in the graduate student, who, in turn, bears authority and accountability as mentor, educator, and evaluator. The unequal institutional power inherent in this relationship heightens the vulnerability of the undergraduate student and the potential for coercion.  The pedagogical relationship between graduate student instructor and undergraduate student must be protected from influences or activities that can interfere with learning consistent with the goals and ideals of the University. Whenever a graduate student is responsible for academic supervision of an undergraduate student, a personal relationship between them of a romantic or sexual nature, even if consensual, is inappropriate. Any such relationship jeopardizes the integrity of the educational process.

Examples of unacceptable conduct:

1.    Failure to meet the responsibilities of instruction, including:
   (a) arbitrary denial of access to instruction;
   (b) significant intrusion of material unrelated to the course;
   (c) significant failure to adhere, without legitimate reason, to the rules in the conduct
 of courses, to meet class, to keep office hours, or to hold examinations as scheduled;
   (d) evaluation of student work by criteria not directly reflective of course performance;
   (e) undue and unexcused delay in evaluating student work.
2.    Discrimination, including harassment, against an undergraduate or fellow graduate student on political grounds, or for reasons of race, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic origin, national origin, ancestry, marital status, medical condition, status as a covered veteran, or, within the limits imposed by law or University regulations, because of age or citizenship or for other arbitrary or personal reasons.
3.    Violation of the University policy, including the pertinent guidelines, applying to nondiscrimination against undergraduate or graduate students on the basis of disability.
4.    Use of the position or powers of a graduate student instructor to coerce the judgment or conscience of an undergraduate student or to cause harm to a student for arbitrary or personal reasons.
5.    Participating or abetting in deliberately disruption, interference, or intimidation in the classroom.
6.    Entering into a romantic or sexual relationship with any undergraduate student for whom a  graduate student has, or should reasonably expect to have in the future, academic responsibility (instructional, evaluative, or supervisory).
7.    Exercising academic responsibility (instructional, evaluative, or supervisory) for any student with whom a graduate student instructor has a romantic or sexual relationship.

[1] Adapted from UCLA faculty handbook: http://www.ucop.edu/acadadv/acadpers/apm/apm-015.pdf (accessed March 23, 2009)