MA/MS and PhD in Sociology

MA/MS and PhD in Sociology

Graduate Studies in Sociology at Portland State
Graduate training in Sociology prioritizes community and policy-relevant research focused on improving people's daily lives and society more broadly. Students focus on the integration of theory with a variety of quantitative and qualitative methodological approaches to study the dynamics of human behavior and social interaction in substantive areas including health and medicine; environmental sociology; sociology of education; sociology of gender; law, criminology, and deviance; class/stratification; race/ethnicity; urban sociology; social movements; family; and sexualities.. The program aims to prepare graduates for research and service positions in government, the non-profit sector, private industry, and the academy.

The department of Sociology offers coursework leading to the degrees of Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Science (MS), as well as the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).

MA/MS in Sociology (non-thesis, terminal degree)

Students with a Bachelor's degree may enter our terminal MA/MS program, which offers training in both quantitative and qualitative research methods. The terminal master’s degree emphasizes coursework in quantitative and qualitative methods and is best suited for those who wish to seek employment in fields such as research, social services, education, or non-profit organizations. This is a non-thesis track.

The candidate pursuing a terminal master’s degree must complete a minimum of 45 graduate credits, including 25 credits in core sociology courses and 20 credits of electives (8 of which may be in departments other than sociology).

Core Courses (25 credits)
SOC 590: Social Research Strategies

SOC 591: Theoretical Perspectives in Sociology

SOC 592: Qualitative Research Methods

SOC 593: Quantitative Methods

SOC 537: Qualitative Data Analysis

SOC 595: Advanced Quantitative Methods

SOC 507: Professionalization seminar

Electives (20 credits)
At least 8 credits must be sociology electives

Master's on the way to PhD

Students with a Bachelor’s degree can choose to enter our graduate program to earn a PhD. in Sociology. Those pursuing a PhD must first complete their Master's degree, which includes a thesis project for doctoral-degree seeking students. Students pursuing a Master's degree on the way to a PhD must complete a minimum of 54 graduate credits, including 22 credits in core sociology courses, 24 credits of electives (12 of which may be in departments other than sociology), and 8 credits of thesis. The student must pass an oral defense of their Master's thesis. Once they have earned their Master's degree they can, with approval, continue on to complete a the PhD. 

Core Courses (22 credits)
SOC 590 Social Research Strategies (4 credits)
SOC 591 Theoretical Perspectives in Sociology (4 credits)
SOC 592 Qualitative Methods (4 credits)
SOC 593 Quantitative Methods (4 credits)
SOC 507 Professionalization (taken 6 times for a total of 6 credits)

Thesis (8 credits)
SOC 503 Thesis (completed over three terms for 8 credits)

Electives (24 credits)
Three graduate level sociology courses (12 credits)
Three sociology or other department courses (12 credits)

PhD in Sociology

Students with Master’s degrees from other programs and/or universities should apply to enter the graduate program at the Ph.D. level. Students applying for doctoral studies who have already earned a Master’s degree may qualify to have some or all of their previous coursework count towards their doctoral studies.

Candidates for the Ph.D. in Sociology must earn a minimum of 54 hours in graduate coursework including 15 credits in core sociology courses, 12 elective credits (8 may be taken in other departments), and 27 dissertation credits. A minimum of 81 credits beyond the bachelor’s degree is required for a Ph.D. Graduate students working on obtaining a Ph.D. are expected to enroll in 600-level courses.



Questions about our graduate programs?

For any questions please contact Dr. Amy Lubitow, Graduate Director at