Doctoral Program


Ph.D. Admission Requirements


Students are admitted to the PhD program only for the fall term. Applicants must be officially admitted to the program before enrolling in coursework.

The application deadline for the PhD is January 15th of each year. All students apply via the online application. To start the application process, visit

All applications to the PhD program must include the following to be considered:

1.       Graduate Application. Complete online application (demographic and educational profile) and pay application fee (currently $50).

2.       Official transcripts from past universities attended. Students must have an overall grade point average of at least a 3.5 or higher in their MA coursework. Applicants seeking admission into the PhD program who are currently enrolled in a MA program should identify an expected graduation date. Once the MA degree has been granted the student will need to provide the Director of Graduate Studies documentation verifying that the degree has been conferred.

A MA degree in sociology is not an absolute requirement for admission, but applicants should have a background in a closely related field. In instances where an applicant holds a MA graduate degree in an area of study other than sociology, the applicant, if admitted, is granted admission to the MA program while they take the three doctoral prerequisite courses (theory, statistics, and methods). Following this coursework, the student may apply for a change of status into the PhD program. The change of status is not guaranteed; the graduate admissions committee evaluates student performance in their first year of coursework. If admitted to the PhD, the Director of Graduate Studies will review the applicant’s previous coursework to determine which credits may transfer to WSU. Students can transfer up to 30 credit hours from their MA coursework. Students are required to have written an MA thesis.

3.       Three (3) letters of recommendation. Letters should be from individuals who can comment on academic abilities and accomplishments (at least 2 letters should be from faculty members at Wayne State or another university).

4.       Statement of Interest. The statement (2-3 pages, approximately 500-750 words) should describe the reasons for pursuing a PhD in Sociology, proposed areas of study, and career goals. The Graduate Committee carefully considers these statements when making their admission decisions to ensure student’s scholarly interests are compatible with those of the faculty.

5.       Writing Sample. Preferably students submit their MA thesis as an exemplar of their writing sample. Alternatively, students may submit a course paper or report.

6.       Graduate Record Examination (G.R.E.): Students are required to submit G.R.E. scores within the past 3 years. The Graduate program uses the G.R.E. scores to evaluate student readiness for graduate-level work. The G.R.E. General Test measures verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical writing skills that are not related to any specific field of study. Unofficial scores should be uploaded before they are officially sent to Graduate Admissions (institution code 1898).

The Department recognizes that scores on standardized tests are greatly influenced by social and cultural factors, and may not be accurate indicators of performance ability. Consequently, G.R.E. scores are considered, but are not be a binding criterion for admission. However, most students accepted into the PhD program have an overall G.R.E. scores in at least the 50th percentile. In the event that a student’s G.R.E. score falls considerably short of the 50th percentile the graduate committee looks for evidence of excellence in the other criteria (e.g., GPA, letters of recommendation, writing sample) used to make their admission decisions. Students with G.R.E. scores below the 50th percentile are encouraged to explain the reasons for lower scores in their statement of interest. A combination of GPA, G.R.E., transcripts, letters of recommendation, and statement of interest will be used to make all admission decisions.

7.       TOEFL Scores (international students only): We are currently asking for paper-based TOEFL scores of 600 or above (or internet-based TOEFL scores of 100 or above) for entry into our PhD program.

Ph.D. Program Requirements

Prerequisites: prior to PhD coursework, students must complete the following courses, earned during their MA program at WSU or another university; otherwise students must take these courses in their first year at WSU:

§  SOC 6050  Sociological Theory I (3 cr.)

§  SOC 6280  Social Statistics (3 cr.)

§  SOC 7200  Advanced Survey of Approaches and Techniques of Social Research (3 cr.)


Doctoral Requirements: Ninety (90) credits – 30 may be earned at the MA level; 30 credits are earned in doctoral coursework; and 30 dissertation credits.

§  SOC 6060  Sociological Theory II (3 cr.)

§  SOC 6290  Advanced Social Statistics (3 cr.)

§  SOC 7260  Qualitative Methods (3 cr.)

§  A third course in methods, either qualitative or quantitative (3 cr.)

§  Twelve(12) elective credits in sociology (4 courses) (see below under electives)

§  Six (6) credits in a cognate field (2 courses) (can be from a secondary area in sociology)

§  Additional coursework as needed to reach 30 coursework credits at the PhD level.

§  Preliminary examinations: a take-home exam over the course of two weeks. Students must take this exam within six months of completion of doctoral coursework (usually completed in two years). Students must pass prelims in full before advancing to candidacy for their dissertation.

§  Thirty dissertation credits (SOC 9991-9994). Doctoral students must be continuously enrolled in dissertation credits; if all credits are complete, but students are still working on their dissertation, they enroll in SOC 9995 (maintenance credits) to maintain their full-time status.


Electives: Students will choose a set of electives that best fits their area(s) of expertise. Students will be encouraged to use their two cognate courses to build a secondary area of expertise. Below is a description of our Department areas of focus.


Race, Ethnicity, and Gender (REG) focuses on how race, ethnicity, and gender serve as principles of social organization that shape individual experiences and reproduce social inequalities. Faculty in these areas examine how structural and individual sexism and racism impact both objective (e.g., educational attainment, earnings, career advancement) and subjective (e.g., racial identity, political attitudes, work-family conflict) outcomes. Recent student projects in this area have explored a broad range of substantive topics such as race and gender disparities in health and school discipline, the experiences of women and racial and ethnic minorities in the workplace, and the role of sexuality in shaping experiences of criminal victimization.


Global, Transnational, and Comparative Sociology (GTC) prepares students to conduct theoretically grounded, methodologically sound, empirically rigorous research from a comparative perspective that addresses global and transnational social, political, economic, and cultural phenomena. GTC focuses on how fundamental macro-level structures and processes shape individual and group experiences, as well as relationships among nation-states. GTC research also evaluates micro- and meso-level processes across subnational and national units of analysis. Our GTC faculty conduct quantitative and qualitative research on a wide variety of topics such as international development, health disparities, migration, international political economy, and work and labor. Many of these substantive areas overlap with the department’s two other core areas, the Sociology of Health and Illness and Race, Ethnicity, and Gender. Students are encouraged to undertake research that engages two or more areas.


Sociology of Health and Illness (SOHI) The sociology of health and illness examines the interaction between society and health. In particular, sociologists within this specialty area examine how social factors impact health and illness and how health and illness impact society. This specialty also looks at health and illness in relation to social institutions such as the family, work, school, politics, and religion as well as the fundamental causes of disease and illness, the organization and operation of the health care system, behaviors of health care providers and patients, provider-patient relationships, access to care, etc. In all of these analyses, sociologists in this specialty area explore health disparities by race/ethnicity, gender, class, sexuality, age, ability, and nationality.


See the Graduate Student Handbook for more information. [CLICK HERE]



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