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MA / MS Sociology

Department of Sociology; housed in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Master of Arts or Master of Science in Sociology degree to be received upon graduation.

How many credits?

The course will consist of a minimum of 55 credit hours including 6 credits linked with Peace Corps service. The degree program will consist of 6 quarters of academic study. Six credits will be awarded for successful completion of the course of study planned prior to Peace Corps overseas service. Sociology faculty will work with each student individually to develop a plan and course agreement which would form the basis for grading for the six credit hours awarded for the Peace Corps field experience. This would then count as an elective course within the Department of Sociology. Upon return the student would complete any additional activities associated with this agreement such as a project report, reflective paper, or departmental student presentation.

Pre-Peace Corps service coursework:

Portland State's Department of Sociology offers MA and MS options in sociology with academic studies highly applicable to a variety of settings in which Peace Corps volunteers are often assigned. The study of sociology teaches students how to think about how people create, maintain, and are affected by social forces. The Department of Sociology offers two areas of recognized distinction related to environment/natural resource management and youth development. These areas are social inequality and social sustainability. The department serves as the home for PSU's Center in Health and Social Inequality Research and works in collaboration with PSU's Center for Sustainable Processes and Practices. Faculty have sponsored research and expertise in a range of topics which would support students' thesis projects, building on their Peace Corps field experience. In particular these topics include disparities in education access; neighborhood-level race relations and neighborhood disparities; immigrants and barriers to their assimilation; and social and environmental sustainability.

Students in environmental/natural resource management fields through a focus on social sustainability might advance their understanding of how social processes and social institutions facilitate or impede natural resource conservation inclusive of environmental and economic sustainability, particularly of importance in areas of the world struggling with dwindling productive land, forest, water, marine, and other natural resources.

Students in youth development might focus on related social factors which influence education attainment and life chances, such as identity formation, social capital or social networks, or on gender or race relations directly applicable to designing and implementing effective youth programs.

The PSU Sociology department does accept students who do not have a BA/BS in sociology, but they are required to already have taken, or if not, to take at PSU comparable sociological theory courses (Soc 301 and 302) and sociological methods (Soc 397 and Soc 398) before starting the master's program.

How would the Peace Corps experience be integrated into the students' academic program?

In year one, which starts in the fall, graduate students would take courses in sociological theory, quantitative and qualitative methods, and the design and execution of sociological research. They also would take three elective courses to further develop their research interests and knowledge applicable to their intended Peace Corps field experience. The PSU Sociology faculty would work with the student individually to develop a plan to integrate this field experience abroad into their final year of work to complete their master's degree requirements.

Upon completing Peace Corps service, what academic requirements would students need to meet to be awarded a degree?

Returning MI students will complete remaining elective and required courses, and will work with faculty and attend a writer's seminar to complete their thesis.

Master's level sociology courses for PCMI program:

Course descriptions are available in the PSU Bulletin and more information can be found on the department website: