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PhD, Sociology of Education

Course of Study

When doctoral students begin the program, they are assigned an initial faculty advisor with whom they develop their course of study. In total, the Sociology of Education PhD 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 through coursework of the problems investigated by sociologists and the major empirical findings in these areas. Students also complete course work in statistics and research methods.

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 PhD students take between 12-29 credits of coursework in Sociology of Education and research methods. Students will choose courses that meet these requirements in consultation with their faculty advisor, and the number of credits will depend on their prior coursework as well as necessary preparation for the comprehensive exam and proposal.These typically include at least four courses in Sociological Theory, such as SOED-GE 2002 Sociology of Education and SOED-GE 2325 Social and Cultural Studies in Education. They also often include research methods courses such as RESCH-GE 2140 Approaches to Qualitative Inquiry and APSTA-GE 2002 Statistics for Behavioral Sciences I.

School Requirements

In addition to the program’s requirements, 36 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 advisors.

Foundations and Cognate Study (12 credits)

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. 

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 . This is required for all Sociology of Education doctoral students. 

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 at least one each of foundational qualitative and quantitative methods classes. Any prerequisites that are needed for students to fulfill their specialized research methodology course requirement can and should be applied here.  Research electives should be chosen in consultation with a faculty advisor.

Specialized Research Methodology (3 credits)

Students are required to take 3 credits of more specialized methods coursework. This may be taken at any point after taking introductory methods coursework, although usually right before or during dissertation proposal work. This requirement should directly relate to students' dissertation work and should be chosen in consultation with an advisor. 

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. 

Optional: Independent Study (0-6 units)

An independent study provides students with the opportunity to work one-on-one with a faculty member on a particular topic or creative project. SOED-GE 2301 Independent Study supports Sociology of Education students pairing an internship or fieldwork experience with coursework for course credit. Through course meetings and assignments, along with working in a professional setting, students develop the necessary skills for their career. Students complete at least 45 hours of work per credit.

Stage II. Department Comprehensive Examination 

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. 


Stage III. Dissertation Proposal 

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 IV. 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. This stage ordinarily takes one to two years when attendance is full-time.