PhD Program Requirements

Department of Sociology

Requirements include

Language Requirements

English language requirement and language in other area of study.

Course requirement

You must complete all required courses for the Sociology PhD.

Dissertation Prospectus

Completed with an approved thesis.

Substantive Area of Specialization

Determined with your Supervisor.

Candidacy Examination

Written and oral examinations.


You must successfully defend a Doctoral Dissertation.

Language requirement

English Language

You must be proficient in speaking, writing and comprehending English.

Language in research area

This is only required if you are proposing to do your research in an area that will need a level of proficiency in a different language.

Course requirements


You will be required to take:

  • Sociology 611
  • Sociology 706 & 707 (Doctoral Seminar in Professional Sociology I & II)
  • Sociology 731 (Doctoral Seminar in Sociological Theory)
  • Two HCE methodology courses at the 700-level
  • Two HCE substantive courses at the 600- or 700-level

If you have already taken 611 or an equivalent course as part of your MA program you may substitute another course. If you begin the PhD program without the prerequisites for 611, you may be required to take or audit Sociology 311 and possibly 315 before taking 611.

Optional courses

You may wish to take these courses in preparation for your Doctoral seminars:

  • Sociology 631
  • Sociology 613 and 615

You may also find it helpful to audit or take for credit Masters or Doctoral level courses to prepare for your examinations.


If you begin the PhD program without the prerequisites for required courses, you may be required to take or audit select undergraduate or master’s level courses.   You will be allowed to complete your elective courses in the Spring or Summer session of first year to stay on track with the program.

Dissertation Prospectus


Within 16 - 20 months of initial registration in the program.

Successful Completeion

To successfully complete the dissertation prospectus, you must have your thesis project approved by your Supervisory Committee and file a written copy of the prospectus with the Sociology Department Graduate Administrator.

Substantive Area Specialization


With the help of your supervisor, you will determine three substantive areas of specialization that must be approved by your supervisory committee.

Reading lists

The three substantive areas will serve as the basis of your reading list for candidacy examinations. The reading list will go beyond your proposed thesis research and will reflect broader areas of substantive, theoretical and methodological specialization.


You are expected to take advantage of whatever departmental expertise and resources may be available to develop strength in the substantive area long before Candidacy. There might also be resources and expertise available elsewhere in the university and outside the university. The point is that the substantive area specialization begins much earlier than the establishment of a final reading list.

Candidacy Examinations

You will be required to complete both a written and and oral examination to complete the PhD program. You must complete all course requirements and your dissertation prospectus before attempting the candidacy exams.

Written examination

Before taking the exam you must:

  • Four months prior, advise supervisor of intention to take the exam
  • Finalize reading list and get it approved by your supervisory committee
  • Establish Candidacy examination committee two months before taking the exam

The examination committee will develop the essay questions for the written examination.

Option A

  • The candidate receives the questions and has one week to write the essays. The examination could be a choice of questions, required questions, or both.

  • A seven-day take-home examination picked up or emailed to the candidate any time between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on day one and returned, either in hard copy or by email, by exactly the same time on day seven (e.g.  if the examination is picked up at 9 a.m. on a Monday, it should be returned by 9 a.m. the following Monday)

Option B

  • The candidate receives a list of preparation questions. The number of preparation questions provided should be at least double the total number of questions that will comprise the exam, and candidates must be informed how many questions will appear on the examination.
  • From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m on the seventh day of the week, the candidate writes a seven-hour examination consisting of one to three questions from the preparation list. Candidates may bring:
    • Their reading list
    • One page of notes (max 500 words) as an outline of their answers

Oral Examination

Oral exam information

You will write the oral exam up to a month after the written portion. The exam is conducted by your examination committee.



The Faculty of Graduate studies sets the procedures for the Doctoral Dissertation. The examination is a public event.  However, only examiners have a right to question the candidate.  Observers must leave the examination room before the examining committee members begin their deliberations.


Students are required to complete both a written and an oral field of study examination in order to progress to candidacy. You must complete all course requirements and your dissertation prospectus before you undertake your field of study examination.

The reading list for the field of study examination is developed by you and your supervisory committee. The list addresses three areas of specialization relevant to your planned research and should include key theoretical, methodological, and substantive works.

The written exam consists of three essays on questions set by the supervisory committee; you will have one week to write the essays after receiving the questions. The oral examination is based on your essays and your broader knowledge of the works on the reading list; it is conducted by the supervisory committee with the addition of two additional examiners.

Graduate program contacts

Contact us for any questions you may have about the programs we offer in the Department of Sociology.

Graduate Program Director

Dr. Ariel Ducey
(403) 220-5054

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Graduate Program Advisor