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The department offers coursework, supervised independent study and research guidance at various stages of study. Core courses are offered in world-system studies; contemporary capitalism; world-historical perspectives on race, class and gender; methodologies; and theoretical studies. In addition, there are colloquia and seminars that prepare students for advanced research and writing.

Coursework During the First Two Years

Each student's program is worked out in consultation with the director of graduate studies and one or more faculty advisors in light of the student's preparation and interests. Ordinarily a first-year program consists of six courses, including four of the five core courses offered by the department. During the second year, the student completes remaining course requirements by taking advanced seminars, a course on writing for publication along with the possibility of taking an Independent Studies course (SOC 697) arranged by agreement with a selected faculty advisor.

Core Courses

• SOC 601: Study of the Modern World-System. Modern world-system from its origins to the present. Core-periphery relations; expansion/incorporation; the interstate system and hegemony; movements/revolutions; imperialism and anti-colonialism.

• SOC 602: Contemporary Capitalism. Introduction to the political economy of contemporary capitalism, including regimes of accumulation, theories of crisis; theories of globalization; states and class formation.

• SOC 603: Structural Inequalities. Global and local patterns of enduring inequalities; world-historical study of the construction of inequalities based on race/ethnicity, class, gender and sexuality.

• SOC 604: Theoretical Studies. Social theories relating to such topics as long-term, large-scale social change, the emergence and functioning of capitalism, market formation, social class, state formation, revolutionary social change, structural inequalities of race and gender, post-structuralism, feminism, and post-coloniality.

• SOC 605: Problems of Method. A grounding in how to think methodologically, including the discussion, of epistemologies and underlying assumptions, research design (for example, ethnographic studies, archival work, case studies versus comparisons, and the like), and the uses and abuses of evidence (identifying sources, gathering evidence, sorting evidence, and evidence in support of argument).

A second group of courses is regularly offered to cover key subject areas, including courses in the areas of political economy, inequalities, and world-systems/world-historical studies. Special, advanced topics courses are also regularly offered. A full listing of regular courses is available in the Binghamton University Bulletin; current course offerings are listed in the BU Brain system.

When students become course complete, they are required to register and attend a writing practicum which supports them in completing their advanced studies.

Advanced Studies

In advanced studies, students concentrate their work in developing a paper of publishable quality, demonstrating a high level of competence in an area of inquiry, and in developing a dissertation-research project. The actual program of studies is jointly worked out by the student and a study committee chosen by the student.

Students will demonstrate their competence in the craft of writing scholarship for publication by formulating, researching, writing, presenting and revising a paper that they could develop into a publishable paper during their second year of the program. The aim of the second year paper is to help students begin the process of writing for publication early on in graduate school. The paper should formulate a compelling rationale for the project, be it an empirical puzzle or theoretical debate, elaborate a well-reasoned argument and support it with in-depth or systematically gathered evidence. To develop a publishable paper, students will form a study committee of two sociology faculty members, one as chair. Students will identify their chair, by the end of the second semester and formulate a proposal for the paper by the start of the third semester. To support them in completing this paper, students will take a course on writing for publication during their second year. The aim of the course will be to orient students to the peer review process, familiarize students with a variety of forms that published scholarship can take, and support students in completing the initial draft of the research paper. Students submit the paper to their committee for final evaluation by the end of the fourth semester.

Students will demonstrate their competence in a field, or area, of intellectual inquiry (whether established or newly defined by the student) by successful completion and defense of an Area Paper or a critical literature review by the end of their fifth semester. The area paper or critical literature review typically comprises 1) a critical review of the literature (debates, theories, research methods and practices, and matters of generally accepted 'fact', along with a 'mapping' of the origins, trajectories, and inter-relations among these diverse approaches, as relating to a particular theoretical area of inquiry; 2) an indication of one's own understanding and theoretical approach to the debates in this field, and 3) how one would move forward in his/her own later research and teaching as relating to this field. This area should be discussed and developed in close consultation with one's committee chair, with whom students often take an independent study in their last semester of coursework and with at least one other committee member. Students must form their committee of two faculty members and a reader by the end of their fourth semester. Demonstration of competence in an area is based on the successful oral defense of the Area Paper or critical literature review, presentation of syllabi, research papers, and other supporting material, and an indication of how one's future research and teaching activities will be informed by one's work in this area (see Graduate Handbook for further discussion of the Area Paper).

The Dissertation and PhD

After successfully passing the second year paper and the examination of their area of inquiry, students form a PhD dissertation committee, to be comprised of at least three persons, including a chair and at least two other members, one of which must be from among the department faculty. The Chair of the dissertation committee must be a regular tenured or tenure track member of the Department of Sociology. In certain circumstances, a member of the committee may be non-tenure track (e.g., international adjunct, visiting professor), with permission of the Director of Graduate Studies and the Graduate School. Within six months of demonstrating their competency in an area of inquiry, typically by the end of the sixth semester, the student must submit a dissertation prospectus (proposal) which must then be approved by members of the dissertation committee. The filing of the approached prospectus confirms official admission to PhD candidacy (ABD status).

The department recommends that the University grant the PhD in sociology when the student has fulfilled the University residence and doctoral-research requirements; passed an oral examination ("the defense") administered by the University on the topic of the dissertation; and deposited with the University a copy of the dissertation approved by the examining committee.

Degree Requirements

Master of Arts Degree

The MA Degree requires 9 courses of graded coursework.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Degree

The PhD requires satisfaction of the following course requirements: twelve courses if entering with a BA, nine courses if entering with an MA; successful demonstration of competence in two fields (the two Area Papers); committee approval of the dissertation prospectus; and completion and successful defense of the dissertation.

Typical Program of Study for Those Entering with a BA

First Year: Four core courses; two advanced colloquia.

Second Year: Four advanced seminars (two if entering with an MA) plus a course on Writing for Publication, and the possibility of one Independent Study (SOC 697) normally taken during the final semester of course-work. The MA may, upon petition, be awarded upon completion of 32 credits.

Third Year: Completion of all requirements for advancement to candidacy

Fourth Year: Doctoral research.

Fifth Year: Doctoral research and dissertation writing.

International Student Information

The department makes every effort to attract and retain international students. This includes close liaison with the Office for International Student and Scholar Services. International students should carefully review application requirements and U.S. immigration regulations, including SEVIS requirements and full-time certification. On this and related matters, see the International Student and Scholars Services website and e-mail:

Last Updated: 5/15/18