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Ph.D. Program

Submitted by sandra.grills2 on Tue, 03/22/2016 - 1:20pm

Graduate Contact Information

For general inquiries with respect to the Graduate Program, please contact Ines Kubicek, Graduate Program Administrator. For specific admission inquiries, please contact Dr. Liza McCoy, Graduate Program Director.

Ines Kubicek
Telephone: (403) 220-6501
Fax: (403) 282-9298

Graduate Program Director:
Dr. Liza McCoy
Telephone: (403) 220-6856
Fax: (403) 282-9298

Our mailing address is:

Department of Sociology
University of Calgary
2500 University Drive N.W.
Calgary , Alberta
T2N 1N4

We are located in the Social Sciences Building on the east side of the University of Calgary campus.

The research interests of faculty in the Department of Sociology allow for study at the Ph.D. level in a variety of substantive areas. Dissertations evolving from the PhD program reflect the diversity of training obtained in the Department of Sociology, as well as the diversity of students attracted to our department. Over the past few years, dissertation topics have included: social control and delinquency, transformation of the tattoo subculture, corporate relocation, family caregivers, political alienation and behaviour in Western Canada, chronic illness and social support, and representations of the environment.

In addition to the development of substantive specializations, the doctoral program in sociology emphasizes the core areas of sociological theory, and qualitative and quantitative methodology, through a range of course offerings specifically designed for PhD students. 

Submitted by sandra.grills2 on Tue, 03/22/2016 - 1:31pm

Admission Requirements

In deciding on admission to the Ph.D. program the Department of Sociology considers an applicant's previous academic accomplishments and potential to pursue and complete original sociological research.  Students entering the Ph.D. program are required to have completed an M.A. degree in Sociology or a cognate field (a closely related field with signficiant sociological content).  In addition, a minimum grade point average of 3.50 is normally required. Students who have received or are receiving an M.A. from the University of Calgary must apply for admission to the Ph.D. program. Students holding M.A.s in cognate disciplines who wish to apply to the Ph.D. program should as a first step consult with the Director of Graduate Studies. If admitted, students may be required to complete foundational courses extra to the requirements of the doctoral program, usually in the first year of full-time registration. 

Applicants are also requested to provide: (1) a general written statement of intent; (2) a sample of written work, such as a term paper or research report, preferably in Sociology.

In addition to Faculty criteria, the Department of Sociology selects students on the basis of background in Sociology, academic performance, letters of recommendation (minimum of two), fit between student and faculty research interests, proficiency in the English language, and personal interviews when practical.

Statement of Intent
Please provide a written statement that indicates your proposed area of study for the Ph.D. degree in Sociology.  What research questions motivate you? What theoretical tradition(s) will likely inform or structure your research?  Are there specific methodological skills you hope to develop and apply while in the program?  Please also identify one or more faculty supervisors with whom you would like to work.  Your statement of intent should be between 500 and 1000 words in length.  Applicants who do not have a B.A. or M.A. degree in Sociology should include with their statement an additional statement of 500 words or fewer describing their level of preparedness for graduate study in Sociology, e.g. completed courses with substantial sociological content, sociological research and sociologists that have informed your own work, related research experiences, etc.

Program Requirements

In order to graduate, students must meet criteria set out by both the Department of Sociology and the Faculty of Graduate Studies.  For more detailed information on the Faculty of Graduate Studies' requirements, please consult the faculty web page (

To receive the Ph.D. students must:

  • Demonstrate competence in sociological statistics, sociological theory, and methods of sociological research by completing Sociology 611 (Social Statistics; The General Linear Model) and Sociology 731 (Doctoral Seminar in Theory) as well as two Half Course Equivalent (HCE) methodology courses at the 700-level, selected from decimalized selected topics in Sociology 705Q (Advanced Methodological Issues), 711Q (Advanced Quantitative Methods) or 715Q (Advanced Qualitative Methods) [Q signifies that these are 6-week quarter-courses];

  • Complete two Half Course Equivalent (HCE) electives at the 600- or 700-level; at least one HCE elective must be a Sociology Department offering in a substantive area;

  • Complete Sociology 702 (Doctoral Seminar in Professional Sociology);

  • Complete an additional HCE elective for each HCE required course taken in a previous degree -- additional electives must be at the 600- or 700-level; they can be another Sociology seminar, a reading course or a course from another department;

  • Complete the Ph.D. thesis requirement and all related examinations (described below).

Language Requirement

Other than proficiency in the English language, there are no formal language requirements for the Ph.D. program in Sociology. However, if a student proposes to do research in an area that requires a language other than English, the Supervisory Committee will set a requirement that the student acquire the needed proficiency. This decision will be made at the time of the approval of the dissertation prospectus.

Course Requirements

As noted above, all students are required to take Sociology 702 (Professional Sociology), Sociology 611 (Social Statistics: The General Linear Model), and Sociology 731 (Doctoral Seminar in Sociological Theory) as well as two HCE methodology courses at the 700-level, selected from decimalized sections of Sociology 705Q, 711Q, or 715Q.

Students must also complete two HCE electives at the 600- or 700-level selected from the Sociology Department's offerings in substantive areas.

Students who have taken a required course in a previous degree must complete an additional HCE elective instead. The additional elective must be at the 600- or 700-level; it can be another Sociology seminar, a reading course or a course from another department.

The Department of Sociology also offers Master's level courses in sociological theory (Sociology 631) and research methods (Sociology 613 and Sociology 615). Some students may find it useful or necessary to audit or take for credit these 600-level courses in preparation for the doctoral level seminars and the candidacy examination. Some students may also find it useful to audit or take for credit additional seminars on substantive topics beyond the minimum requirements specified in this section.

The Department of Sociology offers two undergraduate courses in social statistics (Sociology 311 and 315).  Incoming Ph.D. students who lack the prerequisites to complete Sociology 611 during their first year of study will be required to audit or take for credit Sociology 315 and possibly Sociology 311 before the start of their second year of study.  When a student audits or takes for credit Sociology 315 in the Fall or Winter of the first year of study, it is recognized that s/he will fall behind in completing the elective courses.  In this circumstance, a student will be allowed to take a 600- or 700-level reading course during the Spring or Summer session of first year and substitute this course for one of the required sociology department offerings in substantive areas.

Dissertation Prospectus

Students must successfully complete a dissertation prospectus normally within twenty months of initial registration in the doctoral program. Successful completion of the prospectus means that the Supervisory Committee has approved the thesis project, and a written copy of the prospectus is filed with the Sociology Department Graduate Administrator.

Substantive Area Specialization

Each Ph.D. student, with the help of his or her supervisor, determines a substantive area of specialization that must be approved by the Supervisory Committee and filed with the Graduate Administrator no later than the time of the filing of an approved dissertation prospectus. This substantive area will serve as the basis for the reading list connected to the Candidacy Examination. The reading list will be approved by the Supervisory Committee after the completion of the prospectus and no later than three months before the Written Candidacy Examination.

The Candidacy Examination is based on the substantive area of specialization. The reading list for the examination will go beyond the student's dissertation research and will reflect the broad area of specialization.

The student is expected to take advantage of whatever departmental expertise and resources may be available to develop strength in the substantive area long before Candidacy. There might also be resources and expertise available elsewhere in the University, and students might, in addition, propose obtaining expertise beyond the University. The point is that the substantive area specialization begins much earlier than the establishment of a final reading list.

Candidacy Examination (Written and Oral)

The Candidacy Examination consists of two components -- a written examination and an oral examination. The Oral Candidacy Examination is a requirement of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and must be completed within 28 months of the student's first registration in the Ph.D. program. The Written Candidacy Examination is a departmental requirement. It must be conducted no more than one month before the oral examination. Before a student can proceed to Candidacy, all departmental requirements must be successfully completed. These requirements include:

  • all course requirements as specified above; 

  • completion of dissertation prospectus approved by the Supervisory Committee.

Written Candidacy Examination

Notice of Written Candidacy Examination 

At least four months prior to the Written Candidacy Examination, the student should advise the supervisor of the intention to take the written component of the Candidacy Examination (followed by the oral component no more than one month later).

A final reading list - approved by the supervisory committee - must be provided at least three months prior to the written examination.

Two months before the written examination, the composition of the Candidacy Examination Committee and the date and time for both the written and oral examinations should be established. (The Faculty of Graduate Studies will not approve the committee composition earlier than three months before the oral examination.) The composition of the Candidacy Examination Committee is as follows:

  • Supervisor(s)

  • other members of the Supervisory Committee

  • two additional members

Questions on the written examination will be prepared by the Candidacy Examination Committee and should cover the broad area of substantive interest of the student. It is recommended, however, that one question focus on the student's specific research area. The written candidacy examination will consist of one, two or three essays, at the discretion of the Examining Committee, and will occur over a one-week period.  There are two options for writing the exam:
  • Option A:  The candidate receives the question(s) and has one week to write the essay(s).  The examination committee may at its discretion create an examination that offers candidates a choice of questions to answer, no choice, or a combination of chosen and obligatory questions.
  • Option B: The candidate receives a list of questions and has six days to prepare.  The numbr of preparation questions provided should be at least double but not more than triple the total number of quesions that will comprise the exam, and candidates must be informed how many questions will appear on the examination.  On the seventh day of the week, the candidate writes a seven-hour examination consisting of one, two, or three questions from the preparation list, selected by the Examining Committee.  The remaining questions may be asked in the oral examination.

The use of advance study questions for either Option A or B is to be negotiated by the Examination Committee and the student.  In no case should these be the same questions that will later appear on the actual examination.

The written examination should follow one of Option A or Option B:

  • Option A:  A seven-day take-home examination picked up or emailed to the candidate any time between 08:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. on day one and returned, either in hard copy or by email, by exactly the same time on day seven (e.g.  if the examination is picked up at 9:00 a.m. on a Monday, it should be returned by 9:00 a.m. the following Monday); or
  • Option B:  A seven-hour examination written in the Department from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on the designated day.  Candidates may bring to the exam, in addition to their candidacy reading list, one single-sided page of notes to a maximum of 500 words.  It is expected that these notes will consist of outlines for answers to the questions on the preparation list.  The notes will be submitted to the examining committee with the student's completed examination.

Following the written examination, copies of the student's answers will be provided to each member of the Candidacy Examination Committee.  This examination and its reading list will form the basis of the Oral Candidacy Examination.

Both the Written and Oral Candidacy Examinations will be graded together as a "pass" or "fail". No communication of "pass/fail" will be given to the student following the written component.

Oral Candidacy Examination

The Oral Candidacy Examination will be held no later than one month following the written portion of the Candidacy Examination. The examination will be conducted by the student's Candidacy Examination Committee. All Faculty of Graduate Studies regulations governing the oral component of the Candidacy Examination will be followed. (These regulations are specified in the  Handbook of Supervision and Examination, posted on the faculty website).


Students must complete and successfully defend a Doctoral Dissertation according to the procedures specified by the Faculty of Graduate Studies. A new policy, affecting students admitted after September 2008, now requires an open examination format for the dissertation defence.  This means that the examination is a public event.  However, only examiners have a right to question the candidate.  Observers must leave the examination room before the examining committee members begin their deliberations.

Current Schedule

Graduate Program Course Offerings

The Doctor of Philosophy Program in Sociology requires that students take Sociology 611, 702, 731, 6 units (1.0 full-course equivalent) methodology courses at the 700 level, selected from decimalized section of Sociology 705Q, 711Q, or 715Q; 6 units (1.0 full-course equivalent) electives at the 600 or 700 level selected from Sociology Department offerings on substantive topics.  At least one elective must be a Sociology Department offering in a substantive area.

For the current course listing please see

Students planning to go into academia are strongly encouraged to consider enrolling in the University Teaching Certificate Program offered by the Learning Commons. Further information is available on their website: