Graduate Handbook


Table of Contents

· Course requirements

· Second-year Research Paper

· Field Exam

· Dissertation Prospectus

· Teaching Fellowships

· Dissertation Research and Writing

· Submitting the Dissertation

· Mentoring and Advising

· Sociology Department Grants

· Office Space

Welcome to the graduate program in Sociology at Yale University. We are thrilled you are here! We have prepared this Handbook to provide a thorough overview of the program and our requirements. Please review it carefully and always feel free to contact the DGS and Departmental Registrar with any questions.

Course Requirements

12 courses to be completed in first two years, including 4 required courses and 8 electives. One of the 8 electives must be a workshop taken for credit.

Course Waivers. Students entering the program with a masters degree will be eligible for a reduction of up to two courses, with the DGS and Dean’s approval. These reductions may apply to electives or to the statistics requirements, but may not apply to Theory or Logic of Social Research. Please contact the DGS and Departmental Registrar to discuss possible waivers.

Online course selections are due before the beginning of the semester. You can use Yale Course Search to identify classes and will need to log into Yale Hub to access the registration system. To make changes to your course selections after the deadline, you will need to complete the Course Schedule Change Notification Form and return it to the Departmental Registrar (the Registrar can send you a copy). The deadline to change enrollment in a Fall-term course from Credit to Audit and from Audit to Credit is October 29. The deadline in the Spring term is March 6. You may not add a course after the OCS deadlines, except with the Dean’s permission.

Joint Degrees: Special arrangements will be worked out for students enrolled in joint Ph.D. or professional programs.

Temporary Incompletes: Arrangements between students and instructors concerning incomplete work are constrained by deadlines set by Graduate School regulations: in a single term, only one TI is permitted. Students should complete the Temporary Incomplete form and have their instructor sign it (by the grading deadline each semester) and send it to the Departmental Registrar.

Temporary Incompletes received in an academic year must be converted to final grades by October 1st of the following academic year. If a grade is not received by the Graduate Registrar by this date, a TI will be converted to a permanent Incomplete (I) on the student’s record.

Leave of Absence: See Programs and Policies on Graduate School site.

Requirements – Fall Semester of First Year

-Statistics I (SOCY 580). This course provides an introduction to probability theory, sampling theory, distribution and measurement theory, linear regression and the general linear model.

-Theory (SOCY 542). This seminar will be taught by a rotating group of faculty. Rather than specializing in one or another theorist or perspective, it will survey theoretical ideas from classical to contemporary debates. The course may be organized around themes or consider significant theorists one by one. It will provide a synthetic overview of conceptual issues and ways of thinking that mark the sociological imagination.

-Logic of Social Research (SOCY 578). This seminar is an intensive introduction to the methodology of the social sciences. It covers such topics as concepts and indicators, propositions and theory, explanation and understanding, observation and measurement, methods of data collection, types of data, units of analysis and levels of variables, research design inference, description and causal modeling, verification and falsification. The course involves both the study of selected texts and the analysis and evaluation of recent research papers.

-Proseminar. Offered biweekly during the first semester, students will be presented with the full range of current faculty work. Very little student preparation will be required, and there are no examinations or papers. Students must register as Audit for this required course.

-1 elective. A course of your choosing, can be outside of the department with DGS’s approval.

Requirements – Spring Semester of First Year

-Statistics II (SOCY 581). Continuation of work from Statistics I.

-3 electives. Must have DGS approval if outside of department.

-Departmental Workshop. May audit.

Requirements – Second Year:

-The number of electives necessary to reach 12 required courses, typically 1 or 2 in the fall and 1 or 2 in the spring.

-Departmental Workshop for credit, either in fall or spring of second year. One semester of workshop is required. Credit will be conferred when students do the full range of readings and present a draft of the second-year paper in the workshop. Students are encouraged to audit workshops outside of their specialties.

-Second Year Research Paper preparation and completion by May 5th (details below).

Second-Year Research Paper

In addition to finishing the course requirements, which should be no more than four courses in the second year, the student’s second year focus will be on formulating, researching, writing, presenting, and revising an extended paper. This paper must be solo-authored by the student, who will be supervised by a committee of two faculty members, one of whom is the student’s Academic Advisor (see “Mentoring and Advising” section).

Initial discussion of this paper should begin at the conclusion of the student’s first year in the program, and a proposal will be formally developed at the beginning of the student’s second year. A draft of this paper must be presented in a Workshop in the course of the second year. After receiving feedback from Workshop participants, students will revise the paper in consultation with their committee, who will evaluate it by the end of the second year of study.

The aim of the Second Year Research Paper is to kickstart the process of writing for publication. This paper should identify a theoretical controversy, methodological problem, or empirical puzzle. By making use of systematically generated evidence – whether gained from theoretical argument, secondary literature, or data (e.g. surveys, archives, interviews, participant observations) – the student should adjudicate between these theoretical claims, address the methodological problem in a new way, or solve the empirical puzzle. Primary research will not be expected.

The result of this effort will not necessarily be itself a publishable paper, but it will be a significant step towards this goal. Limited to around 30 pages, it will represent a reasonable product of one year’s part-time work. The second year Research Paper may or may not be related to the student’s subsequent graduate work. The Departmental Registrar has sample copies, please email with any requests.

The second-year paper is due on May 5. This is a strict deadline and students should not plan on any extensions. Submission procedure: The student submits the paper to the committee, copying the Registrar, with a request that the committee email the Registrar with their approvals by June 3.

M.A. and M.Phil. Degrees: After completing one year of the program leading to the Ph.D. degree, the student may petition for the Master of Arts degrees. Two of the eight term courses required for the M.A. must include statistics and theory. A grade of High Pass or above must be achieved in five of the eight required courses. A student may petition for the M.A. degree in the semester following the completion of the requirements.

After all requirements for the Ph.D. degree have been met except submission of the prospectus and the writing of the dissertation, and after at least one year of academic resident graduate study at Yale, the student will be eligible for the Master of Philosophy degree.

Students can petition online at the Yale Graduate School website by clicking into Forms, Degree Petitions, and returning the completed form to the Departmental Registrar. Please review your academic record to ensure you qualify before submitting the form.

Third Year Requirements

-Field Exam Completion – Fall Semester. The Field Exam must be completed by December 9 (details below).

-Dissertation Prospectus Completion – Spring Semester. The prospectus must be defended by May 20 (details below).

-Teaching Fellowship. Required for all 3rd year students in the fall and spring semesters (details below).

Field Exam

The general goal of the field exam is to ensure that students are familiar with the breadth of a particular subfield in sociology, which will aid them in developing a dissertation proposal and could eventually provide the basis for developing a course in that subfield.

Timeline. By the beginning of the third year, students must identify a committee of two faculty members with whom to work closely in developing their field exam. The field exam involves developing a reading list of approximately 50 items (books and articles), reading those items during the fall semester, and then writing a 15-25 page, double-spaced, review essay that a) provides a general overview of the development of the subfield and b) critical reflections on unresolved issues. The definition of the subfield can be broad (e.g. Health and Medicine, Culture and Theory, Political Sociology, Sociology of Gender, etc.) or slightly more narrow. 

Students must consult with their two advisers in defining the subfield and developing a reading list. To create a draft of the reading list, students may wish to search for review articles in Annual Review of Sociology and look up current graduate syllabi on courses related to the subfield (taught at Yale and elsewhere). The list of 50 items should include “classic” works in the subfield and more recent work. Examples of past reading lists can be found here: Race; Inequality and Life CourseCulture and Theory; Political and HistoricalEconomic and Organizational; Health and Medicine.

The field exam essay will be evaluated similarly to the Second Year Paper by a committee of two faculty members. The field exam essay is due December 15. This is a strict deadline and students should not plan on any extensions. Submission Procedure: The student submits the essay to the committee, copying the Registrar, with a request that the committee email the Registrar with their approvals by January 13.


Dissertation Prospectus

Students will be required to appoint the Chair and two other members of the dissertation committee. The student will work closely with the committee to develop a Dissertation Prospectus. By the end of the 3rd year, the student will be expected to defend the Dissertation Prospectus in an oral examination with the committee. The Prospectus should include (a) statement of the research problem, (b) elaboration of how the student will go about solving the problem, i.e. research design or equivalent, (c) discussion of sources or data to be used and, if appropriate, the methodology, (d) an outline of the planned chapters.

The prospectus defense must be completed by May 20. This is a strict deadline and students should not plan on any extensions. Extensions must be approved by the DGS. Submission Procedure: After the defense, the student should email the completed dissertation prospectus form (signed by each member of the committee) and a copy of the prospectus to the Departmental Registrar.

Teaching Fellowships

Serving as a Teaching Fellow after the second year of full-time study is viewed as an integral part of graduate education. The Graduate School requires that all students teach in each semester of their 3rd and 4th years unless there are no teaching positions available in the department or if the student has research obligations elsewhere (in which case they can register in absentia and defer their teaching positions). Every effort is made to provide teaching positions within the Sociology Department, but if positions are not available, students may be asked by the Teaching Fellow Program office to fulfill their teaching obligations in other departments in the University. Please refer to the Teaching Fellow Program information at the Yale Graduate School site.

First-time TFs are expected to attend the Teaching at Yale orientation, offered by the Center for Teaching and Learning at the beginning of each semester.

Expectations for Sociology Department Teaching Fellows. Teaching fellows should be present for all lectures, sections, and examinations without exception. In other words, you should plan your schedule around your teaching responsibilities rather than the other way around, even if this causes some occasional inconveniences. Department policy is that TF absences or substitutes must be cleared by the instructor in charge. If you have to miss a lecture, section or exam due to illness or emergency, you should communicate this to the instructor, and you should only arrange for a substitute with their permission.

Fourth Year Requirements

-Dissertation Research/Writing (details below).

-Teaching Fellowship. Required of all 4th year students in the fall and spring semesters (details above).

Fifth Year Requirements

-Dissertation Research/Writing (details below).

-University Dissertation Fellowship (UDF). The UDF is now automatic, applications are no longer necessary. Please contact during the summer before your 5th year to verify the UDF.

Sixth Year Requirements

Teaching fellowships are now guaranteed for sixth-year students who are planning to submit their dissertation by the end of the sixth year. The stipend will end in May of that year.

Dissertation Research and Writing

While all students are expected to adhere to the same deadlines in their first three years, we recognize that student progress through the subsequent dissertation phase of the program will be variable.

The dissertation represents a test of the candidate’s ability to select and carry out a major research project of professional quality. It should show the student’s mastery of the field of specialization, and it must demonstrably contribute to the body of sociological knowledge. The evaluation of the dissertation by the faculty is not a matter of whether or not the prospectus, as approved, was carried out. Rather, it is an independent assessment of the quality and intellectual contribution of the completed research itself as reported in the dissertation.

As well as the traditional style of dissertation, the department also permits essay-style dissertations (normally three essays on a given topic together with an introduction and conclusion).

Students will be required to complete a Dissertation Progress Report (DPR) online annually.

Submitting the Dissertation

Step 1: The student must notify the Sociology Department of their intent to submit the dissertation. The deadline to do so for the fall semester is September 1 and for the spring semester is February 14. Procedure: Email the Department Registrar with your intent to submit and include contact information for all the members of your dissertation committee (Name, title, email, address, phone, institution, and department).

Step 2: Submit a PDF of your dissertation by March 15 for spring degree conferral or October 1 for fall degree conferral. A PDF copy of your dissertation may be submitted using the degree petition page in the Dissertation Progress Reporting and Submission (DPRS) site at any time within the academic year. Dissertations submitted after the above semester deadlines will be processed for the following degree date.

There are specific formatting rules that must be followed. See Yale’s Guide to Formatting the Dissertation.

Upon submission of your dissertation and approval of readers by the DGS, a pdf copy of your dissertation will be automatically sent to all readers.

Final changes must be uploaded in DPRS within 30 days of the submission deadline. To make changes to your dissertation after it has been submitted, email More information can be found on this page, including an instructional video.

Mentoring and Advising

The Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) will be the “general advisor” for entering first year students and will continue to be responsible for monitoring students’ progress through the program. However, during their first year, students may request, after consulting with the DGS, an Academic Advisor, who will replace the DGS as the student’s academic mentor. By the end of the first year, students will, in fact, be required to designate such an Academic Advisor if they have not done so before.

The Second Year Paper will be supervised by a two-person committee. The chair will be the student’s Academic Advisor, the second member will be a faculty member chosen by the student in consultation with the advisor. This committee will make the final decision about whether the Second Year Paper is accepted. The same procedure will apply to the Field Exam, although the composition of the faculty committee can be changed at the student’s request.

Faculty will meet at the conclusion of every Spring semester to evaluate the progress of graduate students. The DGS will conduct this meeting and will consult with students’ Academic Advisors in preparation. Students in Years 2 and 3 will be required to complete a progress report, due in early April.

Each semester, the DGS will conduct at least one “Professional Development Workshop” in conjunction with other relevant faculty. These will cover requirements for the graduate program, such as Second Year Papers and Field Exams. They will also address the preparation and submission of professional papers, applying for research grants, and job market issues. The Graduate Division has produced a very helpful Guide to Advising for Students and Faculty, including overviews of when and how to seek out advising and suggested topics for students and faculty to discuss. We encourage all students and faculty to read it in full. 

Sociology Department Grants

Camp Grant

Registered graduate students are eligible to apply for a one-time Camp Grant for up to $500. Camp Grants are intended to offset the costs of research-related expenses. Detailed information is circulated to all students at the beginning of the fall and spring semesters.

Sociology Department Travel Funds

Graduate students presenting papers at conferences are eligible to apply for travel reimbursements. The department will reimburse for domestic and international travel expenses for amounts determined on a case-by-case basis. Travel fund requests must be submitted by designated deadlines. Deadlines and required application details are circulated to all students at the beginning of the fall and spring semesters.

Office Space

Students are expected to keep their office space clean at all times, especially when leaving for extended periods, such as over the summer. If necessary, department staff may inspect office space and/or reassign office space. When moving offices or leaving after graduating, please make sure all of your belongings are discarded and/or cleared out of the office. Keys must be returned to the Departmental Registrar so they can be used for new occupants.