Doctor of Philosophy in Global and Sociocultural Studies

The PhD in Global and Sociocultural Studies is an innovative interdisciplinary degree which combines the theories and practices of three key social science disciplines; geography, sociocultural anthropology, and sociology. All students receive interdisciplinary training and the opportunity to focus their coursework and dissertation research in one of the three disciplines. Of the minimum 75 semester hours required for the doctoral degree, 12 comprise the interdisciplinary core, 33 the major discipline, and 30 the electives inside and outside the Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies.


Applications are reviewed only in the spring term for fall admission. Admissions to the Ph.D. program are competitive. Meeting minimum requirements does not guarantee admission.

The minimum requirements for admission to the Ph.D. program include:

  • A baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university.
  • A cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.2 and a cumulative GPA of 3.5 in any prior graduate courses.
  • Official GRE verbal and quantitative scores, need to be sent directly by the Educational Testing Service to the University Graduate School. (NEW!)
  • Graduates of non-U.S. institutions must be academically eligible for further study in the country where the degree was earned.
  • International applicants whose native language is not English are required to submit a score for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or for the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). A total score of 80 on the iBT TOEFL (equivalent to 550 on the paper-based version, or 213 on the computer-based version of TOEFL) or 6.5 overall on the IELTS is required.

Students who originally applied to the M.A. program must apply separately to be admitted into the Ph.D. program. A positive evaluation of the student’s performance at the M.A. level (hereafter called the M.A. review) will be the most important of the factors considered in evaluating applications to the Ph.D. program.

All students, including those who originally applied directly to the Ph.D. program, must undergo a successful M.A. review upon completion of the Masters Program requirements in order to continue toward the Ph.D. The Graduate Committee conducts these reviews. The purpose of the M.A. review is to determine the ability of the student to do Ph.D. level work with the department’s faculty. Among the information considered during the review are students’ performance and grades in courses and faculty recommendations.

Students who have obtained a Masters degree at another institution may be admitted directly into the Ph.D. program, but first must undergo the equivalent of the M.A. review.

The Ph.D. Degree Requirements

The Ph.D. program consists of 75 semester hours of course work (including the 36 hours a student may have earned in the Department's M.A. program). Students acquire competencies in theory, methods and proposal writing during the first two years of the Ph.D. program by successfully completing a common interdisciplinary core curriculum of 12 hours of coursework.

In addition to the common core curriculum, each Ph.D. program student declares a major in Geography, Sociocultural Anthropology or Sociology. Each major consists of the corresponding disciplinary theory course; one approved methods courses; a minimum of two discipline-based seminars; and a dissertation supervised by a faculty member from the major discipline. A student may declare only one major. As students progress through the program, they increasingly pursue their own research interests by taking elective courses across the disciplines and by working with their committee to prepare a doctoral dissertation. A student takes a minimum of 30 hours of electives.

A grade of “B” or higher must be earned in all courses and a cumulative average of 3.0 or higher must be maintained. Students may apply to transfer a maximum of 6 graduate credit hours earned in another program or institution. An exception is made for courses contained within an earned master’s or doctoral degree.

After completing the common core curriculum and the major's course requirements, and while continuing to take electives, a student typically takes the Ph.D. General Exam at the end of the third year of study. A student then takes the Dissertation Proposal and Defense/Candidacy Exam, prepares a dissertation under the guidance of a faculty committee, and defends the dissertation before the committee and the University community.

Core Courses (12 Credits)

  • SYA 6127 Theory and Inquiry
  • ANG 5093 Research Design and Methods
  • SYA 6959 Writing Research Proposals
  • SYA 6315 Social Research Quantitative Methods

Major's Requirements (33)


  • GEO 6118 Theory in Geography (3)
  • One additional methods course taught within the Department, for which GIS may be used. (3)
  • Geography course electives (6 minimum)
  • Exam Prep GEO 7xxx (6 maximum)
  • Dissertation, GEO 7980, supervised by a member of the geography faculty (15 minimum)

Sociocultural Anthropology

  • Theory in Anthropology (ANT 6083).
  • One additional methods course taught within the Department, for which GIS may be used. (3)
  • Anthropology course electives (6 minimum)
  • Exam Prep ANG 7xxx (6 maximum)
  • Dissertation, ANG 7980, supervised by a member of the anthropology faculty (15 minimum)


  • SYA 6018 Theory in Sociology (3)
  • One additional methods course taught within the Department, for which GIS may be used. (3)
  • Sociology course electives (6 minimum)
  • Exam Prep SYA 7967 (6 maximum)
  • Dissertation, SYA 7980, supervised by a member of the sociology faculty (15 minimum)

General Electives (30)

Students will take 30 hours beyond the common core curriculum and the majors’ requirements. This includes a maximum of one directed studies course (three hours). Students are allowed a maximum of two courses (six hours) taken in other departments. In some circumstances, such as the case of a student pursuing a graduate certificate, the Graduate Director may approve additional coursework outside of the department.

Total Credits (75)

Ph.D. General Examination

After successfully completing the common core requirements, the major's course requirements, and electives, a student prepares for the Ph.D. General Exam by enrolling in a maximum of six credits of exam preparation for their major. In preparation for the exam, a student forms a dissertation committee according to the regulations published on the University Graduate School web page ( The Ph.D. General Exam addresses the student’s anticipated dissertation topic, and is conducted according to the University Graduate School Policies and Procedures Manual and the Department’s Ph.D. General Exam guidelines.

The Dissertation Proposal and Defense/Candidacy Exam

After passing the Ph.D. General Exam, a student works under the guidance of the dissertation committee to prepare a dissertation proposal and defend it orally before the committee. The chair of the dissertation committee must hold Dissertation Advisor Status from the University Graduate School. The proposal defense serves as the doctoral candidacy exam for the Ph.D. program in Global and Sociocultural Studies. Upon passing the proposal defense, a student is admitted to candidacy status.

The Dissertation and Dissertation Defense

After successfully defending a dissertation proposal, a student conducts the proposed research and completes a dissertation under the guidance of a dissertation committee. Only after successfully defending the dissertation proposal may a student register for dissertation hours (ANG 7980, GEO 7980, or SYA 7980). The Ph.D. program requires a student to be continuously enrolled in a minimum of 3 hours of Doctoral Dissertation each semester from the time of advancement to candidacy until completion of the dissertation, including summers. Upon completion of the dissertation manuscript and authorization by the committee, a student defends the dissertation before the committee and the University community. The University Graduate School’s regulations governing the dissertation are described at