Master of Arts in Sociology

Major: SOCI
Degree Awarded: MA
Unit: GA
Program Webpage:

Program Information

Through its use of scientific methods and systematic theory, sociology is the study of diverse social groups as they emerge, persist, and change over time and of human behavior in social settings. Sociologists seek to identify and explain the underlying patterns of social relations. The substantive focus of sociology at the University of Louisville is the study of social dynamics particularly in reference to social diversity.

The faculty of the Department of Sociology at the University of Louisville is committed to being a vibrant, learning-centered faculty that enhances comprehension of social dynamics through creative and inventive research, graduate training, and applied opportunities. The graduate degree in sociology at the University of Louisville prepares students for continued advanced study and for careers in government, nonprofits, and the private sector.

Our mission is to provide master’s level graduate education at the highest standards. We will introduce students to the current state of sociological knowledge and methods through high-quality classroom instruction, faculty-student collaboration, and independent student research and practical learning opportunities.

This mission of graduate education in the Department of Sociology further encourages students to develop and apply a “sociological imagination” in the systematic analysis of all things social. The Department advances the use of the sociological approach in interpreting the causes and consequences of human social behavior, facilitating critical appraisal of social structures and cultures, and assessing public policy.

In addition, the Department pledges to conduct this mission in a climate of fairness, sensitivity to the merits of diverse lifestyles, and appreciation for all manners of social research.

The Department of Sociology, in the College of Arts and Sciences, offers graduate training leading to the Master of Arts.

The MA program is designed to allow a student to pursue a degree either full-or part-time. Many courses are offered in the evening so that those employed full-time can also pursue graduate education. Full-time students can normally complete the program in two years; those who are employed full-time typically require three years to complete the program.

The program is designed to fill the needs of students wishing to pursue the Ph.D. in sociology as well as those who are planning careers in the public or nonprofit sectors. The program also provides skills for those seeking employment in private research firms or in the field of information technology and program evaluation.

This program offers both thesis and non-thesis (practicum) options. Please contact the Department for specific information.

The areas of specialty of the graduate faculty include: quantitative and qualitative methodology, social theory, criminology/delinquency, education, medical sociology, and work and labor markets.

Program Admission Procedure

All applicants must submit to the Graduate Admissions Office:
• a formal graduate application (may be submitted online)
• official copies of transcripts from all colleges attended (students with a foreign transcript must submit an evaluation of the transcript from World Education Services ( or Educational Credentials Evaluators (
• two references (preferably from former instructors, and in sociology, if possible) in the form of a discursive letter of recommendation (completion of the UofL Letter of Evaluation form may supplement a discursive letter but should not replace it)
• GRE scores  (GRE scores should be no older than five years unless a graduate degree has been earned within the last five years)
• a curriculum vitae
• and, for international students, TOEFL or IELTS scores.

Applicants must also submit to the Department of Sociology:
• a Sociology Graduate Admissions Questionnaire (below), the responses to which should be of sufficient length to give the Graduate Admissions Committee a basis for evaluating the student’s interest in and ability to complete the program, and provide a sample of the student’s writing.  Responses should be emailed to Dr. Jonetta Weber at

  • Please explain your reasons for applying to the Graduate Program in Sociology.  What are your professional or occupational objectives (including any study beyond the M.A.)?  How does this department’s program fit into those objectives?
  • What areas of sociology do you find especially interesting for study and/or research?
  • What positions of responsibility, if any, have you had, and what, specifically, do you believe you have gained from such experience?  (Those positions include not only employment, but offices held in organizations, volunteer work, etc.)
  • Please summarize what you believe to be your most important accomplishments to date, including those in the academic or occupational areas.

Applicants are examined using the following information in the admissions decisions:  GRE scores, GPA, quality of the program from which the applicant graduated, two academic letters of recommendation, responses to a questionnaire, and an interview with the candidate.

The Department of Sociology is committed to fostering diversity by considering factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, age, and social class in its graduate and undergraduate programs; as such, background factors and circumstances will be considered when reviewing applications.

While the Graduate Admissions Committee does not base admission solely on meeting - or failure to meet - certain criteria, as a guideline, chances of admission are improved with the following:
• minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0;
• minimum combined verbal/quantitative GRE score of 1000 (if tested prior to August, 2011) or 300 (if tested since August, 2011);
• previous course work in statistics, methods, and theory*; and
• international students should also have a quantitative GRE sub-score of at least 450 and either (a) a TOEFL score of at least 550 (on the paper-based test), 213 (on computer-based test) or 79-80 (on the internet-based test), or (b) a IELTS score of at least 6.5.

*Students may be allowed to make up deficiencies regarding these undergraduate prerequisites; however, credit for such courses cannot be applied toward graduate degree requirements.

In exceptional cases, students not qualified for regular admission may be conditionally admitted by action of the Graduate Committee.

Graduate Assistantships

The Sociology Department has available annually a limited number of graduate assistantships.

The application deadline for students not seeking funding is June 1 for fall admission and November 1 for spring admission. (Late applications may be considered on an individual basis.) The Department of Sociology does not admit students during the summer session.

The application deadline for students seeking funding (in the form of a graduate assistantship)is January 5 of the preceding year for fall admission and October 1 for spring admission.   NOTE: The materials must also be accompanied by a letter of interest (a) indicating that they wish to be considered for an assistantship, and (b) elaborating why they feel they would be a good candidate for an assistantship.

Enrollment and Program Guidance

The Director of Graduate Studies serves in an advisory capacity to students for enrollment and program planning until such time as an advisor and/or committee chairperson has been formally designated. At this point the thesis advisor and/or committee chair assumes the primary responsibility for guidance of the student.


All students enrolled in the MA program in Sociology are required to complete the following core courses:

  • SOC 604 Graduate Professional Seminar (1 credit hour)
  • SOC 609 Seminar in Statistics I (3 credit hours)
  • SOC 610 Seminar in Statistics II (3 credit hours)
  • SOC 615 Seminar in Research Methodology (3 credit hours)
  • SOC 620 Seminar in Sociological Theory (3 credit hours)

In addition to the required core courses, students take the appropriate number of electives corresponding to the completion option chosen. (For students who might want to pursue a Ph.D. or a career in a research-related field, the thesis option is strongly recommended.) The two options have different credit hour requirements.

Thesis Option (31 total credit hours)

  • 13 credit hours of core courses, 12 credit hours of elective courses, and 6 credit hours of thesis (SOC 600)

Practicum Option (37 total credit hours)

  • 13 credit hours of core courses, 18 credit hours of elective courses, and 6 credit hours of practicum (SOC 600)

No more than six credit hours of 500-level courses may be applied toward the master’s degree. Up to six credit hours of course work, with approval from the Sociology Director of Graduate Studies, may be taken outside the Sociology Department. Students may also elect to take up to three credit hours of independent study (independent readings or research). Additional credits of course work outside the department or of independent study counting toward degree requirements require special permission from the Sociology Director of Graduate Studies.

Any students who earns below a B in a core course may not count that course toward degree requirements and must retake that course.  Any student who earns below a B- in a non-core course may not count that course toward degree requirements and must retake that course.  Students may only (a) repeat a course once, and (b) repeat a total of two courses.  Any student needing to repeat a third course, as mandated by the guidelines above, will be dismissed from the program.  In accordance with the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies policy, when a student repeats a course, the GPA will be calculated on the basis of the last grade earned, although the original grade will remain on the transcript.

Accelerated Master's Program

The program offers motivated and academically superior students the opportunity to earn graduate credit hours during their senior year. As undergraduates, accelerated students may earn between 6-9 graduate credit hours, all of which are applied to the undergraduate degree, as well as the graduate degree, thus allowing students to begin the graduate program in sociology with credits already applied to the graduate degree. NOTE: Students in the accelerated program may only apply their graduate credits earned as an undergraduate toward the graduate degree in sociology at UofL.

Students apply for the program during their junior year and, if accepted, begin the program in their senior year. The graduate courses taken during the student's senior year will depend on what courses the student has remaining to complete his/her undergraduate degree in sociology. The undergraduate advisor works individually with accelerated students regarding their course schedule.

Admission Requirements: 3.35 overall undergraduate GPA at time of application and a combined total GRE score of 300 on the Verbal and Quantitative sections and a 3.5 GRE score on the Analytical Reasoning section. Applicants are also required to submit two letters of recommendation and a completed Graduate Admission Questionnaire. Students must be admitted to the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies.


John A. Busch

Associate Professor

Robert M. Carini

Associate Professor

Karen Christopher

Associate Professor

Patricia Gagne


Lauren Heberle

Associate Professor

Robin Hognas

Assistant Professor

Gul Aldikacti Marshall
Associate Professor

Director of Graduate Studies

Deborah Potter

Assistant Professor

Jon H. Rieger


Dave Roelfs

Assistant Professor

Ryan Schroeder


Hiromi Taniguchi

Associate Professor

Wayne M. Usui


Debbie Warnock

Assistant Professor

J. Allen Whitt