Our program offers solid training in the foundational theories and methods of the discipline and allows students the flexibility to pursue interests in a variety of specialty areas. The Department of Sociology at CU Boulder is a well-respected center for teaching and research. Here students can work with award-winning faculty members who have been recognized for their research, teaching and service.

The Department of Sociology strives to maintain a diverse mix of graduate students, promote respect for and opportunities to learn from others with a broad range of backgrounds and experiences, and otherwise promote inclusive excellence. By providing a variety of perspectives, a diverse student body enhances students' educational experiences and strengthens our research and outreach endeavors.

We have strengths in the following areas: 

  • criminology
  • cultural sociology
  • environment, hazards and disasters
  • gender and sexuality
  • health and medicine
  • life course, aging and youth
  • political economy
  • population
  • race and ethnicity
  • social psychology and emotions


The department views the recruitment and retention of an inclusive and diverse student body as an essential component of a successful graduate program. Besides enhancing the quality of our program by bringing a larger diversity of experience to it, recruitment and retention of students from many different backgrounds and experiences will increase the diversity in the profession of sociology overall. Our department is committed to improving the diversity of the student body and the graduate program experience.

Students are encouraged to become involved in CU Boulder's United Government of Graduate Students (UGGS). UGGS is committed to enhancing the graduate student experience by interacting with the university administration on matters such as financial aid, etc. UGGS has worked with the Graduate School to develop the Graduate Student Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.


Students must complete a total of 45 credit hours of coursework before taking the specialty area comprehensive exam. At least 24 hours must be in the Department of Sociology on the Boulder campus. All courses taken within the Department of Sociology must be numbered 5000 or above to qualify for graduate credit.

All first-year coursework must be completed with at least a 3.50 GPA and no grade lower than a B to continue into the second year.

At the end of the first and second years, faculty members teaching required courses, faculty mentors/advisors and faculty supervising teaching assistants conduct a review of students' progress.

Required Courses and Credits

Required Courses
SOCY 5031Research Design 3
SOCY 5111Statistics 1: Introduction to Social Statistics3
SOCY 5181Logics of Qualitative Inquiry3
SOCY 5201Graduate Seminar in Sociological Theory3
SOCY 5202Graduate Seminar in Contemporary Theory3
SOCY 6111Stats 2: Statistic Analysis3
A second theory seminar of the student's choice.3
Two 1-credit-hour graduate forums:2
Graduate Sociology Forum 1

Master's Degree

The Department of Sociology does not have a master's degree program; however, students who are unable to meet the requirements for the doctoral degree may pursue an MA with Graduate Committee approval. In addition, PhD students may obtain the MA in the process of completing the doctoral degree. The department does not allow extra time for the completion of the MA degree while pursuing the PhD.

All MA students are required to complete a minimum of 30 credit hours of graduate coursework. These 30 credit hours must include at least 6 credit hours in at least two seminars in the student's major fields. Students may take a maximum of 6 credit hours of independent study. Independent study may not be substituted for regular seminars. In addition, all students must take courses from at least four faculty members. Finally, all MA students must designate a master's advisory committee that consists of at least three regularly appointed graduate faculty members from the Department of Sociology.

For the MA degree, a student must complete 30 credit hours of coursework at the 5000 level or above, including 4–6 thesis credit hours and the required Theory and Methods sequence with a B or higher in addition to the preparation of a written thesis and a successful oral defense of the thesis. Students must register for thesis credit hours in the semester of thesis defense.


Students must prepare a written dissertation proposal and orally defend it before the dissertation committee, and complete dissertation research and defend by the end of the sixth program year.

Recommended Plan of Study

Students enter the program in a cohort of approximately 12 students. Students typically focus on required courses during the first year. Graduate students are expected to take two or three seminars each semester. We encourage students to work with their faculty advisors to determine the course load for the first year based on prior coursework, etc. Beyond the first year, we recommend that students take three courses each semester.

Each incoming student will be assigned an individual faculty advisor who will help guide the student through the first year of the program. Under the first-year advising system, students are encouraged to work with their first-year advisors to explore the program, the research specialties of the department and their own developing research interests while getting to know faculty members. Once a student has had an opportunity to meet and work with a variety of faculty, decisions regarding long-term advisors should be made. Beginning in year two of the program, graduate students are expected to seek their own faculty advisors.

Students in their first year are required to attend the graduate forum (SOCY 6821). Students will meet bimonthly throughout the academic year with the forum leader. The primary purposes of the forum are to introduce faculty and their research to the first-year cohort and to provide a communal forum for the cohort to discuss issues of concern with the forum leader.

The department offers an ongoing professionalization seminar ("prosem") led by a group of elected graduate students.

During the first two years, a student's coursework will focus on theory and methods. In the third and fourth years, the student will work with their advisor to develop a specialty area. Upon successful completion of the specialty comprehensive exam, the student will be admitted to candidacy and begin their dissertation research.