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Frequently Asked Questions: Ph.D.

Learning about the Sociology Ph.D. Program

The Application Process

Living in Portland

Learning about the Sociology Ph.D. Program

Can I apply for the Ph.D. program if I have a Master’s degree in another discipline?
Yes. Students entering with a Master's degree in another discipline (or with a Master's in Sociology from another institution) will be required to have completed coursework equivalent to what is required of PSU Sociology Master's students as a condition for admission to our Ph.D. program. However, they will not be required to write a Master's thesis. |Back to Top


Can I apply for the Ph.D. program if I do not have a Master's degree?
As of Fall 2015, you do not have to have a Master's degree to apply for the Ph.D. program, but after admission, you must complete all requirements for the Master's degree, including coursework, and written thesis in order to move into the Ph.D. program.  Please see the MA/MS program requirements.|Back to Top


Can I be a part-time student in the Ph.D. program?
Yes, but pay attention to Graduate Studies residency requirements, before you decide to follow a part-time schedule.  The OGS residency requirements state: 

In a doctoral program, the residency requirement can be satisfied in one of the follow ways:

  • Three terms of full-time enrollment (minimum 9 graduate credits applicable to the degree program each term) during the first two years after admission to the program.  This may include one or more summer terms.
  • Six terms of part-time enrollment (minimum 1 graduate credit applicable to the degree program each term) during the first two years after admission to the program.  This may include one or more summer terms.
  • A doctoral student who was enrolled in the same major at PSU, and whose matriculation to the doctoral program immediately follows (within one calendar year) the master's degree program, may fulfill the residency requirement during the period in which the student was enrolled in the master's program. (source,
 |Back to Top


What are my chances of getting funding?
Some students will already have full-time or part-time jobs outside the university and will, therefore, not seeking university funding. Others will be seeking university funding (which involves tuition reimbursement and a monthly stipend). For these students, we will make every effort to find funding, either by providing them with departmental funding (as a teaching assistant, research assistant, or lecturer) or university funding outside the Sociology Department. |Back to Top


Can students enter the Ph.D. program at any time during the year?
No. Students are admitted only for the fall term. To begin our Ph.D. program in any fall term, you must submit your application by January 15 of that year. For instance for Fall 2016 admission, applications are due by mid January, 2016. Please use the menu to the left of this page to access the instructions for our online application process. |Back to Top


How many students are admitted to the Ph.D. program?
We expect to admit three to five students per year. |Back to Top


How long does it take to get a Ph.D. in your program?
The program is designed to take three to five years to complete, dependent upon the students' previous graduate-level course work, employment status, ability to go full or part time, and whether they enter with a Master's degree in Sociology. |Back to Top


Is it possible to just obtain a Master's degree in sociology?
Yes. It is possible to obtain a Master's degree in sociology without continuing on to the Ph.D. program. |Back to Top


What kind of job can I get with a Ph.D. in Sociology from PSU?
Through focus groups that we have conducted, it is clear that regional organizations have expressed the need for Ph.D.-level researchers with a robust knowledge of social theory, research methods and research design skills. |Back to Top


How many courses do Ph.D. students take? Who offers them?
Please see the requirements for the Ph.D. program at The doctoral-level courses will be taught by professors in the Sociology department, as well as by other departments at PSU and in other institutions in the local area such as OHSU. |Back to Top


Who will advise me as a Ph.D. student?
You will be assigned a temporary academic adviser when you begin the program with the understanding that this person may change depending on the development of your research strengths and interests. During your first year it is important for you to get to know the faculty so that when it is time to choose your adviser and dissertation committee you will know who is the best match for your research interests, methods, and personality. |Back to Top


How much flexibility exists in the Ph.D. program?
The Ph.D. program is designed to allow for flexibility while maintaining academic rigor and scholarship. We have two core classes that all Ph.D. students must take (Soc 684 Social Inequality Pro-Seminar and Soc 695 Advanced Research Methods). Currently our Ph.D. program focuses on the sociology of health and social inequality. Within these foci, and with the guidance of their adviser, students are expected to tailor their class choices to meet personal goals. |Back to Top


Are Ph.D. students required to teach?
Ph.D. students are not required to teach, but they may have the opportunity to do so. We will look at each student's strengths and goals when deciding on appropriate activities to facilitate their education. |Back to Top


What is the process for Advancement to Candidacy once in the program?
All students will be required to complete a comprehensive exam. Comprehensive exams assess students' command of methods and research literature in the field of sociology including social inequality. All relevant core courses must be successfully completed before any comprehensive exams may be taken. Specifically, Soc 684 (Social Inequality) and Soc 695 (Advanced Research Methods) must be taken before the comprehensive exams.

In addition to successfully completing core courses and comprehensive exams, students must successfully prepare, present and defend a written proposal for their dissertation research. |Back to Top


Who can I contact to find out more about the program?
Please look carefully at all of the information on our web site, including the graduate handbook, then, if you still have questions, contact the Graduate Director. |Back to Top


The Application Process

When is application deadline?
Around mid January of every year for admission the following Fall term depending on the day of the week. |Back to Top


What is the application deadline to be considered for departmental funding?
We make departmental funding decisions during the application process, so the date remains January 15. There are other scholarships and funding opportunities available through the university which have different application dates. Check out for more information, and information other sources of funding. |Back to Top


Do you require GRE scores?
As of Fall 2015 we will be requiring GRE scores from all of our applicants. |Back to Top


As an international applicant, what test or tests should I take?
International applicants need to submit either TOEFL or IELTS scores with their application. Please see for PSU requirements for international students. |Back to Top


Will I need to interview with the Admissions Committee?
The Admissions Committee does not interview candidates. We believe that the best and most fair procedure is to make decisions based solely on the submitted application materials. |Back to Top


How and when does the department make admissions decisions?
A three-member committee reviews all complete applications, looking for candidates that show great promise as sociologists. Statements of purpose, letters of recommendation, a writing sample, GRE scores and GPA are all considered.

Decisions are made by the end of March. Letters are sent out to all applicants on their acceptance status. |Back to Top


What does the admissions committee look for in a Ph.D. candidate?
We are looking for candidates who have demonstrated academic aptitude and who we believe have a high potential to contribute significantly to the field of sociology. We are looking for candidates that not only have strong academic backgrounds, but who also have a passion for sociology. |Back to Top


How can I find out about the status of my application?
We send out letters as soon as we make admission decisions. We do not give admissions decisions over the phone, or by fax. We will contact you if more information is needed. If you have not heard from us by the end of March, you may contact the Graduate Director. |Back to Top


When do you need to know whether or not I will attend?
Our letter of admission will have a response form with the date. If you have chosen another school before that date, we would appreciate it if you would let us know as soon as you make your decision.


What if I am admitted and then want to delay entering the program?
Decisions on deferrals are made on a case-by-case basis. We can not guarantee that your place in the program can be held. |Back to Top


Living in Portland

What is the availability of housing around PSU?
Portland is known for its many funky, diverse neighborhoods that are close to downtown and served well by mass transit. If you want to live on campus, you can look at the various choices with PSU Housing, an organization which runs the apartments, studios, and dorms on campus--some may have long waiting lists. Otherwise, there are the usual sources such as Portland's Craigslist, and the Oregonian Newspaper. |Back to Top


How do I qualify for in-state tuition?
Students with residency status are assessed in-state instructional fees, which are subsidized by funds from the State of Oregon's Higher Education budget. Non-resident students are assessed a higher level of instructional fees that more closely approximates the actual cost of instruction. In order to determine your residency status please refer to the Residency Requirements at the Admissions office website.|Back to Top


Where is PSU located in Portland?
PSU is located at the south end of downtown, making it a true urban university integrated into the city. PSU is conveniently located to buses, the street car, and the MAX train. We are also bike friendly, many of our faculty and students get their exercise by riding to campus.

The South Park Blocks, twelve city blocks of green oasis, run through PSU. The Park Blocks do more than just provide a peaceful break from city life, they offer a place for students to socialize and study, a weekly farmerss market (April to mid December), and various art exhibits and events. It also provides a pleasant walk through town to campus. |Back to Top