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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 advanced colloquia in specialized topics and seminars in preparation for areas and dissertation writing.

First-Year Studies

Each student's program is worked out in consultation with the director of graduate studies and one or more faculty advisers 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. The core courses are:

• 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 in relation to long-term, large-scale social change, e.g., Marx, Weber, Polanyi, their followers and critics. The emergence of capitalism; division of labor; the market; class, exploitation, alienation; state formation and bureaucracy; consciousness; accumulation, revolutionary social change.
• 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 BUSI online system.

Advanced Studies

In advanced studies, students concentrate their work in two or more fields, with a view to demonstrating a high level of competence in each, 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. The program usually combines colloquia, independent study classes and a year of pre-dissertation seminar.

By the end of the second year, students who are in residence are required to register in and attend a pre-dissertation seminar with the director of graduate studies to start work on their demonstrations-of-competence. At that time, students form study committees that may initially start with one or two faculty, but will eventually consist of at least three faculty members (including the chair) from the department and such additional members as necessary. A study committee's role combines guiding the student in advanced studies, evaluating the work as it progresses, and assessing when a requisite level of competence in each field has been demonstrated.


A student is advanced to PhD candidacy after the successful demonstration of competence in the two areas and after his or her initial proposal for dissertation research has been approved by the study committee.

Degree Requirements

Master of Arts Degree

Degree requirements include 32 graduate credits of graded coursework in sociology or in approved courses in other departments or schools of the University.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Degree

Degree requirements include course requirements, the successful completion of comprehensive examinations and a dissertation approved by the dissertation committee and the University.

Course requirements are 36 graduate credits beyond the MA or its equivalent (24 for those students with degrees completed in the department) in sociology or in approved courses in other departments in the University.

The comprehensive examination consists of the demonstration of competence in two scholarly areas as described above. To prepare for these examinations, advanced students in residence must take a demonstration-of-competence seminar for two semesters. Competence in an area consists of a broad working familiarity with the principal perspectives, theories, debates, research methods and practices, and matters of generally established fact commonly encountered in a well-defined or emerging field of inquiry. The student ordinarily submits an "area paper," in which the problematic is defined, and supporting material. The examinations are in the form of oral defense.

A student may complete a demonstration of competence in an area at any time after the successful completion of course requirements. The examination should normally be completed during the third year of residence.

After successfully passing the comprehensive examination, students form a PhD dissertation committee. University regulations require that the committee consist of at least four persons, with the chair and at least two other members from among the department faculty. Within six months of the examination, the student must submit a dissertation research proposal and have it approved by the members of the dissertation committee. The filing of the approved proposal confirms official admission to candidacy.

The department, acting through the Office of the Vice President for Research, 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.

Typical Program of Study

First Year: Four core courses; two advanced colloquia (24 credits).

Second Year: Six advanced colloquia, independent studies or courses from other departments (MA awarded with completion of 32 credits).

Third Year: Remaining course requirements completed; areas seminar. Studies concentrate on preparation for demonstration of competence and the writing of area papers.

Fourth Year: Completion of all requirements for advancement to candidacy; 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 review and be especially attentive to U.S. immigration regulations, including SEVIS requirements and full-time certification. On this and related matters, see the webpages and e-mail:

Last Updated: 8/30/16