Sociology and Anthropology
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

About PhD

As a PhD student, you must take a required introductory courses in Public Sociology, Institutions and Inequalities, and Sociology of Globalization, as well as Classical and Contemporary Sociological Theory. Students must also complete required coursework in quantitative and qualitative research methods. Each PhD student selects one of two general tracks (Globalization or Institutions and Inequalities) within which they complete at least three elective courses that typically span subfields within sociology. Students with interdisciplinary interests and fields of inquiry may discuss with the Graduate Program Director substitute elective courses (taken in other departments within GMU or at other universities within the Washington Consortium) that relate to their dissertation research topic or objectives. Students entering the PhD program with a conferred degree MA in Sociology or a related field may be eligible to count up to 30 credits (excluding thesis or independent study credits) toward their PhD degree.

George Mason is a stone’s throw from Washington, D.C., providing our students with easy access to a broad array of internship opportunities whether on Capitol Hill, a policy think-tank, or at a non-profit community organization. Whether your interests are focused on Human Rights, Global Development, Children and Youth Empowerment, Health and Food Access, Education, Urban Affairs, or Poverty and Inequality, the opportunities for real-world experience are limitless.

Our sociology programs at PhD level prepare students with the organizational analysis, problem solving and research skills to have policy impact. Recent students have interned as congressional aides, at the Urban Institute, the Center for American Progress to name but a few governmental and policy related fields.

Student can take 1-6 credits in internship credits.

Graduate internship course: SOCI 516

After completing the required coursework, students take the PhD Comprehensive Exam (a three day written-exam administered every January and August in the week prior to the start of the semester). Students who do not pass the PhD Comprehensive Exam the first time that they take it may take it a second time (only). A student has up to one year to re-take the exam.  If a student does not pass the PhD Comprehensive Exam on the second attempt, then the student must resign from, or be terminated from, the Program.

After successfully passing the PhD Comprehensive Exam, students formally constitute their PhD committee. The committee consists of a Chair (who must be a professor in the Sociology Program), and at least two additional members. One of these additional committee members must be in the Sociology Program, a second may be from a Department at GMU that is outside the Sociology Program.  The third additional committee member may be from outside the University in any program, but must hold a terminal degree within their discipline. Upon successfully defending the dissertation proposal, the student advances to PhD candidacy. Students MUST advance to PhD candidacy within five years of the date that they enter the PhD program.The student then may seek IRB approval for their dissertation research, and has up to four years to defend and file the dissertation.

Typically, full-time students take the required coursework during their first and second years in the program, and complete PhD the Comprehensive Exam and defend a dissertation research proposal in their third year.  Please review the link to the right for detailed information about the degree requirements in the doctoral program. Information about the PhD Comprehensive Exam and dissertations is available via the links to the left.

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