Students seeking the Ph.D. degree typically anticipate a career that involves teaching, research, administration, planning, or consulting in either the public or private sectors. Departmental requirements for the Ph.D. degree emphasize general competence in sociology as well as special expertise within an area of concentration. Ph.D. students develop the capacity for original and creative research. Students engage in either independent or group research under the direction of faculty members. In addition to formal class work and conducting research, students work toward intellectual independence while developing an integrated grasp of the field. The integration of materials from courses and research activities is a primary goal of the Ph.D. dissertation. The Department and the student’s Program of Study (POS) Committee share responsibility in guiding the student toward the graduate degree.

Ph.D. Major in Sociology or Rural Sociology

NOTE: All students must meet the requirements of the Graduate College in addition to the requirements of the Sociology Program.

Ph.D. POS Committee, Examination, and Progress

Graduate Student Evaluation

All graduate students in sociology will be reviewed yearly by the faculty. After the review, the student will receive a letter as to whether his or her progress and performance in the program is satisfactory or not. If not, the student will receive specific information from the faculty as to how to remediate the issue(s). If a problem is not rectified in accordance with the faculty’s recommendation, the student may be dismissed from the program.

Time Limitations for Completion of Degrees

A student beginning a Ph.D. degree program at ISU with a master’s degree is expected to complete the program within five years, while a student beginning a Ph.D. degree program without the master’s degree is expected to complete the program within seven years.

Ph.D. Preliminary Examinations

Ph.D. candidates must successfully complete the written and oral preliminary examinations. Students must take an oral examination after the thesis is completed that focus on, but is not limited to, a defense of the thesis. The POS committee’s decisions are considered final. See the Department Graduate Handbook Sections 4.3.2 and 4.3.3 for more detail about these examinations.

The Dissertation

A written proposal for the dissertation must be accepted by the POS committee before the candidate begins his or her research work. The dissertation proposal may take place at the time of the Oral Examination.

Program of Study Committee

The POS committee for a doctoral program consists of five members of the graduate faculty. It must include at least three members, including the major professor, from within the student’s program. At least one member of the Ph.D. POS committee must be outside the student’s major. Only Graduate Faculty currently employed by Iowa State University can serve as major professor. The major professor must be a member of the graduate faculty in the student’s declared major. The Graduate College recommends that the committee be formed as early as the second semester of graduate study. In no case can the committee be formed later than the term before the preliminary oral examination.

Petitioning Procedures

Students may request a waiver of any of the procedures, rules, and regulations described in this document and appeal decisions based on these procedures, rules, and regulations. Such requests are to be submitted to the DOGE and Department Chair and should take the form of a written document that presents the student’s rationale for requesting the waiver or appealing a decision, accompanied by an evaluation of the request by the student’s advisor or major professor. The DOGE and Chair will examine the issue, seek advice from departmental committees as necessary, and make the final decision. These petitions will be approved only under highly extenuating circumstances.