Departments of Sociology & Rural Sociology
University of Wisconsin - Madison
How Our Academic Program Works: An Unofficial Summary
Our graduate program is relatively unstructured and permits students
to include a wide variety of courses, to suit their interests, as they
pursue the MS and Ph.D. Graduate students are full time with 8 to 12 credits
per semester (most courses carry 3 credits).
If you have not had elementary statistics or undergraduate-level research
methods, or their equivalents, you must take these but they do not count
toward the degree.
I. Master's program. 24 credits (~8 courses) in sociology.
(You can be waived from required courses on the basis of equivalent
prior course work, in which case you substitute other courses toward the
A. Required courses: 361 (Statistics); 475 or 773 (Theory); 700 (a
1-credit proseminar you take in your first semester).
B. At least two courses numbered above 700
C. No more than 6 of the 24 required credits can be independent study,
thesis research, or training seminars.
D. Master's thesis. An article-like product. Defended at a master's oral
conducted by a three-person committee including your major professor (advisor).
The typical student completes the master's degree in the summer after
the second year and defends the thesis in the fifth semester of enrollment.
II. PhD program
A. Becoming ABD
A minimum of 32 graduate credits (~11 courses) INCLUDING those taken
for the master's program are required by the Graduate School to become
ABD (All But Dissertation). The typical student completes many of the
PhD requirements while working on the master's degree.
A. Required courses: 361 & 362 (Statistics), 773 (Theory), 700
(1-credit proseminar), 750 (PhD-level methods course)
B. Four "real" sociology department seminars numbered 900-989
(training/research seminars do not count)
C. A 10-12 credit minor (3-4 courses) that must be taken OUTSIDE sociology
D. Two written preliminary exams in specialty areas, one from a short
List A, a second from a long List B. These are closed-book 6-hour exams
that are given in August and January. Students who fail an exam are permitted
to re-take it.
E. A pro forma oral prelim consisting of a conference with your advisor
that signals your entry into what is known formally as "candidacy"
and informally as "ABD"or "dissertator"status
The large majority of students become ABD after 8 semesters of enrollment.
B. The dissertation.
In consultation with your advisor and at least two of the other four
members of your dissertation committee, you prepare and defend a proposal
for your research. When the research is completed and the dissertation
written, you defend your research before the five-person committee. The
time it takes to complete your dissertation depends on the nature of the
research project and how consistently you work on the research and writing.
Students who work steadily on a project of modest scale generally complete
a dissertation project in two years.
III. Master's waivers
If you enter with a master's degree, you may submit your thesis or
combination of papers for a waiver of our master's thesis requirement.
If your thesis plus course preparation are judged comparable to our master's
program, you are waived directly into the PhD program in a "primary
waiver," in which case you are expected to become ABD within 6 semesters.
If you need to revise your thesis/papers, or do additional course work,
you may be waived in a "secondary waiver," and are allowed 8
semesters to become ABD.
Questions or Comments? Email Oliver -at- ssc -dot- wisc -dot- edu.
December 25, 2004
© University of Wisconsin.