Skip to main content

Search NYU Steinhardt

Course of Study

When doctoral students begin the program, they are assigned an academic adviser with whom they develop their course of study. In total, the Sociology of Education Ph.D. program is 48 credits for students who matriculate with an MA in a related field and 65 credits for students who matriculate with a BA only.

Stage I. Substantive Course Work

Students are expected to become thoroughly familiar with the main sociological perspectives, concepts, and theories. They are also required to develop substantial awareness of the problems investigated by sociologists and the major empirical findings in these areas. To meet those goals, students will take a considerable number of courses in the Graduate School's  Department of Sociology (courses beginning with a "G"). Students also complete course work in statistics and research methods offered by the Department of Sociology. Several foundation and cognate courses will be taken during this stage in Steinhardt. The duration of this stage depends upon the student's prior preparation. 

From an appropriate master's or bachelor's degree, normally this stage takes two to three years when attendance is on a full-time basis.

Program Requirements

The Sociology of Education program requires that Ph.D. students take the following courses. Students will choose courses that meet these requirements in consultation with their adviser:

Sociological Theory: 2 courses

When offered, these should include SOED-GE 2325. The Learning of Culture and SOED-GE 3030. Classical Social Theory. The Department of Sociology also offers a number of relevant theory courses. 

 Sociology of Education: 3 courses

When offered, these should include the following: SOED-GE.2002. Intro to Sociology of Education and SOED-GE 2371 Social Inequality and Education. 

Research Methods: 2 courses

When offered, these should include RESCH-GE.2132. Principles of Empirical Research and at least one additional quantitative or qualitative methods course. Ideally, this serves as simply a minimum for students, not the full extent of methods training. For students doing qualitative dissertations, for example, it is recommended that students take RESCH-GE.2040. Approaches to Qualitative Inquiry then at least one additional advanced qualitative methods course in interviewing, historical methodology, or ethnography.

GSAS Courses: 2 courses

In consultation with an adviser, students should choose at least two courses in the Department of Sociology or other relevant departments.

School Requirements

In addition to the program’s requirements, thirty-six credits are required of all Steinhardt Ph.D. students. The courses that students choose in order to fulfill these requirements must be approved by their advisers.

Foundations (6 credits)

According to the Steinhardt Doctoral Handbook: "Graduate courses qualify for the foundations requirement when they are upper division courses (NYUSteinhardt2000 level courses or their equivalent in other schools) and designed to broaden students' access to knowledge outside of the areas of specialization. To this end, courses are considered foundational when they: (1) provide broad basic content, not limited to a single profession, and are outside the student's specialization, and do not require prerequisites; (2) are based on current scholarship in the arts, humanities, sciences and/or social sciences; and (3) have wide applicability to common issues of the student's specialization and profession."

Foundations courses should be chosen in consultation with an adviser.

Cognate Study (6 credits)

These courses are electives that are closely related to students' area of specialization but that are located outside of the Sociology of Education program. These courses should be chosen in consultation with an adviser.

 Departmental Seminar (3 credits)

ASH offers a fall seminar for first-semester doctoral students in all of the department's doctoral programs. It is ASH-GE 3011. Educational Research in the United States: Problems and Possibilities. This is required for all Sociology of Education doctoral students. When a second semester of the doctoral seminar is offered (as it sometimes is), Sociology of Education doctoral students will be required by the program to take this, as well.

 Research Electives (15 credits)

Sociology of Education students must register for at least 15 credits of research electives, which should prepare students to conduct their dissertation research. In Sociology of Education, these should include RESCH-GE 2132. Principles of Empirical Research (when it is offered), at least two stats classes offered in the APSTA-GE sequence in ASH (we recommend one of these be APSTA-GE 2001 Statistics for Social and Behavioral Sciences I), and the foundational qualitative methods class (RESCH-GE 2140. Approaches to Qualitative Inquiry). Any prerequisites that are needed for students to fulfill their specialized research methodology course requirement can and should be applied here. 

 Please consult the Doctoral Handbook for other courses that may count towards this requirement. Research electives should be chosen in consultation with an adviser.

 Specialized Research Methodology (3 credits)

Once students have advanced to candidacy, and when students are working on their dissertation proposals, they are required to take an additional 3 credits of research methodology. This requirement should directly relate to students' dissertation work and should be chosen in consultation with an adviser. Please note: students who are writing qualitative dissertations must take RESCH-GE 2140. Approaches to Qualitative Inquiry (or its equivalent) and two additional, upper-level qualitative methodology courses.

 Dissertation Proposal Seminar (3 credits)

Students should take a dissertation proposal seminar either in ASH or in a program that is most relevant to students' field of study. The proposal seminar that offers the best fit for students should be chosen in consultation with an adviser. Typically, students will take the proposal seminar once they have identified a dissertation committee chair and are ready to draft a dissertation proposal.

Stage II. Department Comprehensive Examination and Dissertation Proposal

After completing most of their coursework, and generally by the fall of their third year, students take an oral comprehensive examination. The exam consists of an oral examination in two areas: a list of core books and articles that our program considers to be foundational to the field of Sociology of Education and a list of readings, both theoretical and empirical, in an area of the student's specialization. Please see the following document for more details on the comprehensive exam and for the required core reading list.

Comprehensive exam policyPDF icon for the comprehensive exam policy


Once a student has passed the comprehensive exam, they advance to candidacy. At this point, they focus on preparing a dissertation proposal, which is approved by the student's dissertation committee and then by two outside readers during an oral dissertation proposal defense. Generally, the proposal is written and reviewed by the end of the third year of full-time doctoral study.

Stage III. Dissertation and Final Oral 

During this stage the candidate will collect and analyze the data required for the dissertation, complete the writing of the dissertation, and have a final oral examination (which includes the dissertation committee members and two outside readers) on the content of the dissertation as well as on the areas of sociology and educational sociology in general. This stage ordinarily takes one to two years when attendance is full-time. 

See additional information about the doctoral process for Sociology of Education students.