Sep 26, 2023  
USC Catalogue 2023-2024 
USC Catalogue 2023-2024

Sociology (PhD)

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Course Requirements

A minimum of 60 graduate units is necessary for the PhD, among which are the following required courses: SOCI 500 SOCI 510 , SOCI 520 , SOCI 521 , SOCI 511 , and SOCI 621  or 620 . In addition, each student must specialize in two subareas of sociology and must take at least 8 units in each area such as: urban sociology, complex organizations, stratification, ethnic relations, sociology of aging, medical sociology, communication and culture, deviance, sociology of gender, demography, and so on.

Screening Procedure

Normally, students must complete the screening procedure during the third semester of enrollment. Students will have completed two full semesters of work by this point and, hence, will have taken no fewer than 16 and no more than 32 units, including at least the following: SOCI 500 SOCI 510  and SOCI 511 . Students are evaluated on subject matter competence and satisfactory progress. When the screening procedure is successfully completed, the student has one semester in which to form a qualifying exam committee.

Empirical Paper

Each student is required to complete an independent empirical research project that is approved by two members of his or her qualifying exam committee. In some instances, this requirement may be met by acceptance of a satisfactory master’s thesis from some other university.

Foreign Language Requirement

The department does not generally require proficiency in a foreign language; however, as with other courses outside the department, a student’s qualifying exam committee may in some cases require proficiency in a foreign language.

Qualifying Examinations

Following the completion of their empirical papers and most of their course work, students are required to take a written and oral examination in their two standard areas. If the written examination is passed, the oral part of the examination can be devoted to a preliminary discussion of dissertation plans. When these are completed successfully, the student is advanced to PhD candidacy.


After the dissertation is completed, the student and the dissertation committee, in conjunction with the department chair, may elect either a defense oral or a final oral examination in defense of the dissertation. The defense oral is normally chosen in sociology.

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