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Ph.D. Program

In the 1990s, the department chose to focus on global phenomena, as well as their connection to national dynamics.  We thus take a leading position in the discipline of sociology and in the university's efforts to become more globally relevant.  We broadly emphasize inequalities, with specific areas of faculty expertise in the environment, gender, health, international development, and racism, among others.  We are a methodologically diverse department that spans both quantitative and qualitative methods.  In sum, we aim to teach students how to use the best methods available to inform the most pressing research questions of our time.

The Department of Sociology offers both an M.A. and Ph.D. degree program. Our doctoral program is nationally ranked, which reflects the placement of our students in a wide variety of settings – including research universities, elite liberal arts schools, teaching schools, and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. Recent graduates have been hired for positions at: University of Pittsburgh, University of North Carolina-Greensboro, SUNY-Brockport, California State University-Bakersfield, University of Memphis, University of Northern Colorado, New York University (Postdoctoral Position), University of Stockholm (Postdoctoral Position), Yale University (Research Scientist), and the United Nations Statistics Division.

In proximity to New York City, students have the opportunity to take courses at NYU, CUNY, Columbia University, among other nearby universities. Students are also well situated to research global and local dynamics within the areas of New York City and Long Island. In addition to our rigorous training process, which emphasizes methods, theory, and application, students also have the opportunity to complete certificates in other programs, such as the Women, Gender, and Sexualities Studies, Africana Studies, and the Data and Computational Sciences (among others). 

Importantly, some students have the opportunity to work with faculty on funded research projects. These mentoring opportunities often contribute to co-authored conference presentations and publications. Some co-authored publications with faculty include (graduate students are underlined):

Kim, Jessica* and Kathleen Fallon. 2020. “The Political Sociology of Democracy: From Measurement to Rights,” in The Handbook of Political Sociology, eds. I. Martin, T. Janosky, J. Misra, C. De Leon. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Tasmim, Samia, .Sommer, Jamie M., Shorette, Kristen, and John M. Shandra.  2020.  “Non-Governmental Organizations, Boomerangs, and Forest Loss: A Cross-National Analysis.”  Environmental Sociology 22: 1-17.

Sommer, Jamie, Shandra, John M. and Carolyn Coburn. 2019. "Mining Export Flows, Repression, and Forest Loss:  A Cross-National Test of Ecologically Unequal Exchanges." In Frey, R., Gellert P., Dahms H. (eds.). Ecologically Unequal Exchange. 167-193.

Jason J. Jones, Mohammad Ruhul Amin, Jessica Kim, and Steven Skiena. 2019. “Stereotypical Gender Associations in Language Have Decreased Over Time.” Sociological Science 7(1): 1-35.

Nicholas Hoover Wilson and Lucas Azambuja. 2018. “Cultures of Colonialism.” In the Handbook of Cultural Sociology, 2nd Edition, John Hall, Laura Grindstaff, Ming-Cheng Lo (eds.)

Bhandari, Aarushi and Rebekah Burroway. 2018. “Hungry for Equality: A Longitudinal Analysis of Women’s Legal Rights and Food Security in Developing Countries” The Sociological Quarterly 59(3): 424-448.

Sommer, Jamie, Shandra, John M., and Carolyn Coburn. 2019. “Mining Export Flows, Repression, and Forest Loss: A Cross-National Test of Ecologically Unequal Exchange.” In Frey, R., Gellert P., Dahms H. (eds). Ecologically Unequal Exchange. 167-193.

Coburn, Carolyn, Restivo, Michael, Reed, Holly, and Shandra, John M. 2017.  “The World Bank, Reproductive Health Lending, and Maternal Mortality: A Cross-National Analysis of Sub- Saharan Africa.” Sociological Forum 32: 50-71.

Heerwig, Jennifer A. and Katie M. Gordon. 2018. “Buying a Voice: Gendered Contribution. Careers Among Affluent Political Donors to Federal Elections, 1980-2008.” Sociological Forum 33(3): 805-825.

Burroway, Rebekah and Andrew Hargrove. 2018. “Education is the Antidote: Individual- and Community-Level Effects of Maternal Education on Child Immunizations in Nigeria.” Social Science & Medicine 213: 63-71.

Fallon, Kathleen, Anna-Liisa Aunio, and Jessica Kim. 2018. “Decoupling International Agreements from Domestic Policy: The State and Soft Repression.” Human Rights Quarterly 40(4): 932–961.

Fallon, Kathleen and Heidi E. Rademacher. 2017. “Social Movements as Women’s Political Empowerment: The Case for Measurement,” in Measuring Women’s Political Empowerment, eds. A. Alexander, C. Bolzendahl, and F. Jalalzai. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.

Rademacher, Heidi and Kathleen Fallon.  2017. “International Feminisms: Historical Roots and U.S. Participation.” The Oxford Handbook of U.S. Women’s Social Movement Activism.  Edited by Holly J. McCammon, Lee Ann Banaszak, Verta Taylor, and Jo Reger. New York: Oxford University Press.

Restivo, Michael, Shandra, John M., and Jamie Sommer. 2018. “United States Agency for International Development and Forest Loss: A Cross-National Analysis of Environmental Aid.” Social Science Journal 55: 171-181.

Sommer, Jamie, Shandra, John M., and Restivo, Michael. 2017. “The World Bank, contradictory lending, and forests: A cross-national analysis of organized hypocrisy.” International Sociology 32: 707-730.


For admission to graduate study in Sociology, you must have a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent and an undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 or above. The following documents are required in order to apply:

  • Online application
  • Application fee of $100
  • Personal statement
  • Strong recommendations from three former instructors
  • Transcripts of previous academic work
  • Official TOEFL scores, if applicable
  • Writing samples and CVs are optional
  • GRE scores are not  required for Fall 2023 admissions

 Official transcripts are required and must be sent to :

Stony Brook University
Office of Graduate and Health Sciences Admissions
Health Sciences Tower, Level 2 - Rm. 271
Stony Brook, NY 11794-8276
Official E-Transcripts:  Should be send to

Applicants with domestic credentials must submit an official transcript from each undergraduate college or university attended, regardless of whether a degree was conferred.  Applicants must also submit an official transcript from each college or university relating to graduate level work, regardless of whether a degree was conferred. 

Applicants with international credentials must submit an official English translation of all coursework showing a complete course-by-course record, GPA, degree, and institution, in addition to the original documents. SBU graduate admissions personnel will evaluate coursework, GPA, degree requirements and institutional equivalence. In some instances where the coursework, degree equivalency, GPA, and/or institution cannot be verified, a course-by-course evaluation from one of Stony Brook University's approved NACES members listed below, may be requested from the applicant. 

  • World Education Services (WES)
  • International Education Evaluations, Inc. (IEE)
  • Education Credential Evaluators (ICE)

Unofficial copies for both domestic and international credentials are acceptable for an admission decision to be made. If admitted, the applicant must submit final official transcripts/evaluations sent directly from the college/university or evaluation agency as noted above. 

If your native or primary language is not English, English proficiency must be established based on the results of the TOEFL exam. A score of 90 is required for admission to the doctoral program and to be eligible for consideration for TA support. The TOEFL is not required for international students who have a degree from an English-speaking school.

Applications must be submitted online through the Graduate School website by January 8th of each year. Admissions are for the Fall semester only. There are no Spring Admissions.

Please see the School of Social Welfare to apply for a master's degree in Social Work.


Requirements for the Ph.D. Degree

In addition to the minimum Graduate School requirements, the following are required:

A. Credit Hours

Students may be admitted to the Ph.D. program on a part-time basis, but these arrangements usually require that the students appear on campus during certain periods of the normal working day. Full-time study entails 12 or more graduate credit hours per semester for those students entering without prior graduate study or fewer than 24 graduate credit hours. For those students entering with more than 24 graduate credit hours or with advanced standing provided by prior graduate work, study entails nine graduate credit hours per semester. Since a graduate traineeship is considered part of the academic program, credit hours will be given for teaching or research assistantships as well as supervised teaching. Under specific conditions credit may be given for individual research work outside formal courses but under the supervision of faculty members.

B. Courses

Course requirements for a Ph.D. in sociology include five designated courses, two in sociological theory and three in statistics and methods. Of an additional ten required courses, one must be taken in introduction to global sociology and another, which must provide additional methodological training, can be chosen by the student from a variety of suitable offerings specified by the department. Three of the remaining eight required courses may be taken outside the department, upon written approval from the department’s graduate committee. These three courses must be completed with at least a B average.

During the first year of study, full-time students who have fewer than 24 graduate credit hours take eight courses; full-time students who have 24 or more graduate credit hours from prior graduate study take six courses. These must include two two-course sequences, one in sociological theory (SOC 505 and 506) and one in statistics (SOC 501 and 502), plus a methods course (SOC 504) and one elective course. For those holding graduate traineeships, a teaching assistantship under the supervision of a faculty member would consist of two of the eight courses (one each semester).

C. M.A. Degree

A student is awarded the M.A. degree as a sign of progress toward the Ph.D. To receive the M.A. a student must complete:

1. Two consecutive semesters of full-time study, achieving a 3.0 grade point average for 30 hours of graduate work.

2. One of the two papers required by the writing option (Section D, Option 2) for the Ph.D. program.

D. Professional Competence Requirement

The Two Papers:  A student can meet M.A. requirements and proceed to the second half of doctoral work through the submission of two papers written under faculty supervision. These should normally be completed by the end of the third academic year. Each paper should be more substantial than a seminar paper and less substantial than an M.A. thesis; two different substantive areas must be represented in the papers. The two papers are designed to demonstrate competence in the kinds of skills that students will need in the profession of sociology. One of these papers must be a theoretical/empirical paper and the second can be either a second theoretical/empirical paper, an analytical review of the literature, or an analytical review of the literature embedded in a grant proposal. In other words, one paper must be theoretical/empirical and the second may be chosen from among the three possible kinds of papers described below.

1. Mandatory Theoretical/Empirical Paper: The majority of sociological articles use empirical data to answer theoretical questions. Such questions often arise from previous research. They can also be the result of juxtaposing two or more theories, or finding that a theory could use further development or clarification on a point, and then showing how the proposed development or clarification better explains some specific aspect or aspects of social reality. The Two Papers

The empirical data explained or clarified by the theory or theories can take a number of forms. It can be the product of ethnographies, comparative and/or historical research, social surveys, small group or experimental laboratory research, content analyses, etc. The important point is to combine theory and empirical research.

2. Analytical review of the literature: This paper is to be an assessment of the state of the art in some substantive area of sociology. This paper can take various forms. One possibility is a review essay and examples of this form can be found in the Annual Review of Sociology, the Psychological Bulletin, or the Journal of Economic Literature. A second approach could be a review of a field that could serve as the substantive underpinning for a graduate seminar.

3. Analytical review of the literature embedded in a grant proposal: This is to be a major grant proposal. It should normally include a review of the relevant literature, statements of the theoretical framework being used, the hypotheses to be tested, and methodology to be employed in the project. The proposal does not have to be submitted to a funding agency, but all the materials required by a particular agency or foundation must be completed and, in addition, the project must receive CORIHS (Committee on Research Involving Human Subjects) approval, if human subjects are involved. This proposal must also be of substantial size. A very short proposal of just a few pages is not adequate even if that is acceptable to some particular agency.

Upon successful completion of all of the above requirements, along with completion of 30 hours of graduate credit, the student may proceed to the advanced stage of his or her doctoral work.

E. Teaching Requirement

Graduate training includes supervised teaching experience. In the Fall semester of their third year, students enroll in a teaching practicum to prepare them to teach their own course, under supervision, in a summer session or during an alternative semester of their fourth year.

F. Preliminary Examination

This takes the form of an oral examination in the student’s specialty to be given only after all the above requirements have been met. It is designed to appraise the depth of knowledge in the broad area from which the student has selected a dissertation topic. The content of this area is to be defined individually for each student. It consists of a generally recognized, broad subfield and must deal with related materials from other subfields.

G. Advancement to Candidacy

The department’s recommendation that a student be advanced to candidacy for the Ph.D. is based on passing the preliminary examination and approval of a dissertation proposal.

H. Doctoral Dissertation

This must be an independent piece of research and scholarship representing an original contribution, the results of which are worthy of publication. Upon oral defense and acceptance of the dissertation, the department will recommend to the dean of the Graduate School that the student be awarded the Ph.D. degree.


The progress of every student will be evaluated by the department at the end of the first full year of graduate study. Those whose performance and ability are clearly below the standard established by the department for the Ph.D. will be asked to withdraw before they have made a costly investment of time. If more than seven years have elapsed since the student completed 24 hours of graduate courses in the department, the student’s Ph.D. candidacy will lapse. After the first year, a progressively larger proportion of a student’s time will be spent as a participant in research activities, under the supervision of faculty members. Ordinarily, a student with adequate preparation and involved in full-time study should be able to earn a Ph.D. within five to six years from the start of graduate work.

Students who arrive with an M.A. degree in sociology or with three semesters of work in the discipline will be expected to complete some of the requirements above more quickly than indicated.