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PRE-PhD/Master of Science Program

The Master of Science (MS) Degree in Sociology

The MS degree program is a two‐year program that requires a minimum of 38 semester hours beyond the BA/BS degree. One required theory course and four required methods and statistics courses must be completed. Students must also complete SOC 591 (Pro-seminar in Sociology) in both the fall and spring of their first year. Four elective courses, and a total of 6 credit hours of SOC 695 “Analytic Project in Sociology” are required. The schedule shown below in the section titled “MS Plan of Study” shows the sequence of coursework and SOC 695 credits for the MS degree.

MS Committees

 Major Professor: Every student in a degree program is required to select a major professor who acts as the chair of the advisory committee and who agrees to supervise the student’s graduate study, research, and writing. The major/student relationship must be a mutually acceptable one.

 Advisory Committee: Faculty members who assist the student in the preparation of the plan of study and offers advice during the period of graduate work, including research and preparation of Analytic Project (AP).

 Examining Committee: Faculty members who will be assessing the student’s exams. While most of the time a student’s advisory committee is the same as the examining committee, it is not required. If the examining committee is different from the advisory committee, the student must notify the graduate secretary of this change at time of scheduling the exam.

 A student working toward the MS degree should select a major professor and consult with the major professor to select an advisory committee by the end of the first year of the graduate program and before submitting a Plan of Study (see below). The major professor must be a member of the Sociology Department. Students request approval of their major professor on a department form, “Major Professor Appointment Request Form”, which needs to be signed by the student and the major professor and returned to the Graduate Secretary for the Director’s signature.

 An MS advisory/examining committee must include at least two faculty members in addition to the major professor. Professors from outside the department who are qualified and willing to assist students in graduate study may serve on the advisory committee. Retired faculty members and faculty members from other universities may be on the committee if certified by the Graduate School and if they do not make up a majority of the members.

 Master’s Plan of Study

The major professor, the advisory committee, and the graduate student jointly develop and submit a plan of study (POS) for the MS degree to the Graduate School. A plan of study includes a primary research area, the specific courses the student will complete to satisfy degree requirements, and expected date of degree completion. An approved POS constitutes formal admission to candidacy for the MS degree. Students must submit the POS to the Graduate School for approval no later than the end of their third semester in the program. Failure to submit a complete POS before the end of the third semester in the MS program may preclude graduation in the fourth semester. The POS should be submitted at least 1 week prior to the defense of the AP Proposal.

Only courses numbered at the 500 or 600 levels should be included on the POS. Only one SOC 590 may appear on the POS for the MS degree. Coursework used to satisfy the requirements for one master’s degree may not be used on the plan of study for another degree.

Semester I:  

SOC 580 (Methods of Social Research I) (3 credits)

SOC 581 (Methods of Social Research II) (3 credits)

SOC 591 (Pro-seminar in Sociology) (1 credit)

Graduate Elective* (3 credits)

Semester II: 

SOC 600 (Development of Sociological Theory) (3 credits)***

SOC 680 (Advanced Social Research Methods ‐ Multivariate Statistics) OR SOC 686 (Qualitative Research Methods) (3 credits)

SOC 591 (Pro-seminar in Sociology) (1 credit)

Graduate Elective* (3 credits)

Semester III:

SOC 695 “Analytic Project in Sociology” (3 credits)

Graduate Elective* (3 credits)

Graduate Elective* (3 credits)

Semester IV:

 SOC 680 (Advanced Social Research Methods ‐ Multivariate Statistics) OR SOC 686 (Qualitative Research Methods) (3 credits)

SOC 695 (Analytic Project in Sociology) (3 credits)

Graduate Elective** (3 credits)

* Typically, graduate electives are taken in the Department of Sociology; students may request permission from the Graduate Committee to substitute graduate‐level courses outside of the department.

**These requirements will be effective for students who were admitted fall 2017 and beyond. Up to that date, students currently enrolled in the program may choose to adhere to the requirements in place at the time they were admitted to the program or to the new requirements shown above.

***SOC 600 is the preferred theory course during the MS degree. However, if it is unavailable, students should take SOC 602. Otherwise, SOC 602 should be taken during the PhD program.

Incomplete grades (“I”) for coursework or SOC 695 credits are given only under special circumstances such as a prolonged illness or a personal crisis. University policy requires that incomplete coursework must be completed and graded by the 12th week of the second semester following the semester in which the incomplete was received. “I” grades automatically turn into “F” grades if the work is not completed and graded by that time.

Master’s Analytic Project Proposal

The student completes a proposal for the research project by the end of the third semester. The major professor, the student, and the student’s advisory committee meet for an oral defense of the proposal typically by the end of that semester. The advisory committee signs a departmental form showing that the committee met and discussed the project with the student. If the project is not approved by the student’s advisory committee at the first meeting, a second date for an oral proposal must be set. All analytic project proposals or abstracts must be approved in this manner.  The major professor grades the 3‐credit SOC 695 analytic project proposal. Only grades higher than B- are acceptable.

The analytic project in Sociology is designed to give MS students a research experience that includes:

  • the definition of a research problem
  • an assessment of relevant literatures
  • the use of appropriate sociological theory and methods
  • when necessary, the preparation of an application to secure approval or exemption from review as required by Purdue’s Committee for the Use of Human Research Subjects
  • the preparation of a written document, prepared in the style of a professional journal article

The expectation is that the analytic project be comparable in quality to a manuscript prepared for submission to an academic journal for publication. In addition to publishing their work, students are strongly encouraged to present their research at scholarly conferences. The analytic project is completed over a two‐semester period during the second year in residence.

Approval or decision to exempt from review by the Purdue’s Committee on the Use of Human Research Subjects must be presented to the major advisor and Director of Graduate Studies before data collection or analysis begin. If the student will be using data from a project that has already been given IRB approval, no additional IRB submission is required.   Further, the CITI Certification must be current. Complete information about the Purdue Committee on the Use of Human Research Subjects and all forms can be found at their website ( Students and/or the major professor should give the graduate program secretary copies of the e-mails sent from the IRB to the major professor indicating approval of the research plan or exemption from review so that these can be kept on file.

Master’s Analytic Project

Students must complete the Analytic Project (AP) by the end of the second year in residence prior to Annual Graduate Student Review. It should be comparable in quality to a manuscript prepared for submission to a professional journal for publication. The major professor grades the 3‐credit SOC 695 analytic project. Only grades higher than B- are acceptable.

The major professor determines when the final oral defense of the completed Analytic Project, (the final examination for the MS degree), will be scheduled after consulting with the other members of the examining committee.  Either the student or the major professor must notify the Graduate Secretary no less than two weeks prior to the date of the exam. The defense must be held prior to the Annual Graduate Student Review meeting to meet satisfactory progress (see section X regarding the requirements and scheduling of the Annual Graduate Student Review). The Report of the Master’s Examining Committee (Electronic Graduate School Form 7) is used to record the outcome of the oral defense.

The final oral defense is held during an open meeting announced by posted notice on the door where the defense with be held. Only the examining committee may take part in the evaluation of the student’s work.

A final digital copy (e.g., .pdf file) of the analytic project should be sent to the Graduate Secretary. This copy should include any revisions required by the advisory committee.

If the oral defense of the analytic project (the final examination for the MS degree) is not successful, at least one semester must elapse before another oral defense can be scheduled.