Graduate Index

John V. Skoretz, Interim Chair of the Department


    Andrew Billingsley, Ph. D., Brandeis University, 1964
    Elwood D. Carlson, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 1978
    Paul C. Higgins, Ph.D., Northwestern University, 1977
    Patrick D. Nolan, Ph.D., Temple University, 1978
    Jimy M. Sanders, Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara, 1984
    Eui-Hang Shin, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, 1971
    John V. Skvoretz, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, 1976
    Lala Carr Steelman, Ph.D., Emory University, 1981
    Lynn Weber, Ph.D., University of Illinois, 1976
    David E. Willer, Ph.D., Purdue University, 1964

Associate Professor

    Shelley A. Smith, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1986

Assistant Professor

    Shane R. Thye, Ph.D., University of Iowa, 1997

Distinguished Professors Emeriti

    David L. Hatch, Ph.D., Harvard University, 1949
    Ronald W. Maris, Ph.D., University of Illinois, 1965
    Thomas E. Smith, Ph.D., University of Minnesota, 1964
    Robert L. Stewart, Ph.D., State University of Iowa, 1955

Professor Emeritus

    Charles W. Tucker, Ph.D., Michigan State University, 1966


The Department of Sociology offers high-level quantitative and theoretical programs of study in three main subdisciplines of sociology: social psychology, demography, and structural sociology. Courses are taught, and students are mentored, by an internationally esteemed faculty, whose research spans patterns of interaction in families; parental investment in children; the problems of social organization; network power structures; suicide; experimental social psychology; gender inequality in income, mental health, race and achievement; African-American life course; the statistical analysis of interpersonal ties; correlates of infant mortality; ethnic immigrant communities; the effects of aging on quality of life and disability; and the cross-national comparative analysis of social structures. Graduates of its master’s program have been employed by a variety of state and local governmental agencies or have gone on to attain advanced degrees at prominent universities. Graduates of its doctoral program have gone on to prestigious postdoctoral fellowships and tenure-track university appointments.


For admission to full standing, an applicant must submit all application forms required by The Graduate School, including scores on the general section of the GRE. Additionally, an applicant should submit a statement of academic interests, at least one example of recent written work, and any other materials that will be helpful in evaluating the application, to the director of graduate studies, Department of Sociology, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208. Applications that are completed by February 15 will receive priority in decisions about assistantships.

The graduate committee will evaluate applications and make recommendations to the dean about admission. The minimum combined score on the verbal and quantitative sections of the GRE is 1000. The minimum grade point average for admission to the M.A. program is 3.00 on a 4.00 scale for the last 60 semester hours of undergraduate work. The minimum grade point average for admission to the doctoral program is 3.50 on all graduate courses. Meeting minimum standards does not guarantee admission to the program, nor does failure to meet a particular minimum disqualify an applicant if there is sufficient evidence that the failure is not an accurate indication of ability.

Degree Requirements

The M.A. degree requires a minimum of 30 graduate credits, including six hours of thesis preparation. The Ph.D. requires a minimum of 36 additional credits, including 12 hours of dissertation preparation.

Master of Arts

The minimum requirements for the M.A. are:

1. SOCY 701

2. Six hours of theory
SOCY 710, 711, and one additional course in the theory block (SOCY 712—729)

3. Six hours of statistics
SOCY 730 and one additional course (SOCY 731—739)

4. Six hours of substantive areas (SOCY 500—789)

5. SOCY 796

6. Six hours of SOCY 799

Students must maintain a B average on all courses attempted for graduate credit. Grades below B are generally unacceptable in graduate school. Students receiving a grade of C+ or below are subject to review by the entire faculty. To remain in the program, a majority of voting faculty must approve the student’s continuation. Students receiving a third grade of C+ or below are dropped from the program without further review.

All students at the completion of the first year will be reviewed by the instructors of their courses and the graduate committee of the department. Depending on the student’s performance and progress, the review panel will recommend (a) that the student not continue further in the program, (b) that the student must complete all requirements for the M.A. before being reviewed to see if continuance in the program is indicated, or (c) that the completion of all requirements for the M.A. is optional in pursuing the Ph.D. Even if alternative (c) is recommended, completion of the M.A. is strongly encouraged in order for the student to gain experience in the preparation and defense of a substantial research project.

By the end of the second semester, the student will select a thesis committee, composed of at least three members of the faculty who agree to serve on the committee and read the thesis. The student will choose one faculty member to serve as director. The director of the committee will notify the director of graduate studies in writing of the composition of the committee. Working with the committee, the student will prepare a thesis proposal. An examination committee, composed of five faculty members appointed by the director of graduate studies (ordinarily including the three members of the thesis committee ), will conduct an oral examination of the student based on the thesis proposal. This examination usually occurs in the first semester of the second year of study. The committee will attempt to determine if the student has acquired the historical, theoretical, and methodological background in sociology required to do the proposed research. The proposal’s design will also be examined to determine whether it is likely to lead to research of high quality. The exam committee may recommend any changes it feels are warranted on the thesis proposal.

If the committee approves the proposal, all five members will sign a letter stating that the student has been examined and has successfully completed the comprehensive examination requirement. This letter will be given to the chair of the sociology department and the director of graduate studies, who will notify the dean of The Graduate School that the student has passed the comprehensive examination.

Upon completion of the proposed work, the director and readers of the thesis will conduct an oral examination of the student to determine if the proposed work has been successfully completed. The committee members have the right to approve, request revisions and further analysis, or reject the thesis. When the approved thesis is accepted by The Graduate School, and all other requirements have been met, the M.A. degree will be granted.


Doctor of Philosophy

The minimum requirements for the Ph.D. are:

1. SOCY 701

2. nine hours of theory: SOCY 710, 711, one additional course in the theory block (SOCY 712—729)

3. six hours of methods: SOCY 720, one additional course in the methods block (SOCY 721—729)

4. six hours of statistics: SOCY 730, one additional course in the analysis block (731—739)

5. three courses from the demography, social structures, and social psychology area blocks (SOCY 740—769)

6. SOCY 796

7. twelve hours of electives (SOCY 500—891)

8. six hours of SOCY 799

9. twelve hours of SOCY 899

In accordance with The Graduate School’s regulations, admission to degree candidacy is normally expected to occur concurrently with completion of the master’s program or in the first semester of residence for those who enter with the master’s degree. Admission to candidacy depends on successful passage of a written examination. This examination is composed, administered, and evaluated by the graduate program committee.

At the time of admission to candidacy, a Ph.D. advisory committee will be constituted to oversee the subsequent progress of each doctoral candidate toward the Ph.D. degree. Normally this committee will be composed of the faculty serving on the department’s graduate program committee at the time of a student’s advancement to candidacy along with a graduate faculty member from outside the department selected by the graduate director.

After advancement to candidacy and formation of the Ph.D. advisory committee, each doctoral candidate must file an approved program of study. All these actions are to be completed before the end of a Ph.D. student’s first year in the program.

For entrants with a bachelor’s degree only, a minimum of 60 to 66 credits are required. For an entrant with an M.A. degree, some course requirements can be waived if the student has taken a course or its equivalent in graduate work elsewhere and earned a grade of B or better and the student has a 3.50 average in all graduate courses taken elsewhere. The graduate committee will evaluate the files of all students to determine which requirements to waive and whether any deficiencies require additional course work. (Generally, SOCY 796 and 799 requirements will be waived for entrants with an M.A.).

The progress of all students will be reviewed at the end of each spring semester by the department’s graduate committee. The criteria for assessment includes completion of all graduate course work with an average of 3.50 (B+) or better and no more than two grades of less than B in graduate courses from the USC Columbia Department of Sociology. Failure to make satisfactory progress toward the degree objectives results in the student being placed on probation. Students who remain on probation for two consecutive semesters will be reviewed by the full faculty to determine whether they will be allowed to remain in the program.

The student must demonstrate a reading knowledge of one foreign language by passing an examination administered by one of the foreign language departments at the University. English may be accepted as a foreign language for students whose native language is not English, with the approval of the dean of The Graduate School and the chair of the department. This requirement must be satisfied before the student takes the oral comprehensive exam.

In addition to successful completion of course work and subsequent to admission to candidacy, comprehensive exams must be passed. Normally, these exams follow or coincide with the completion of formal course work included in the student’s program of study. The exams should be completed no later than the end of the fourth year (second year for students entering with an M.A. awarded outside the University). Comprehensives consist of written exams in three areas and an oral examination on these written products. The three areas are structural sociology, one of either social psychology or social demography, and an area that reflects the student’s specialized interest.

The core area exams are intended to cover both key theoretical ideas and methodological techniques found in the core area as well as the area’s basic substantive issues. The exams themselves are developed and graded by a committee of at least three faculty in each area. Reading lists for these areas are available from the director of graduate studies.

The third requirement, a specialty exam, is on a particular topic related to the student’s principal research interest. The specialty requirement can cover a theoretical area (for example, symbolic interaction), a methodological or statistical area (for example, the analysis of categorical data), or substantive area (for example, stratification). A listing of topics for which reading lists exist is available from the director of graduate studies. For the specialty requirement, a research paper of publishable quality may be substituted for the written exam. Students wishing to submit a paper or to take exams in areas that are not listed should contact their dissertation director or the director of graduate studies, who will consult with faculty to determine if a committee can be formed. The committee’s composition is subject to the approval of the director of graduate studies and the chair of the department. As with all other comprehensive exam committees, members of a properly constituted committee have complete authority with respect to composition and grading of each exam.

The director of graduate studies schedules and administers the written exams. An examination in each core area will be offered once each semester. Exams in the specialty areas will be offered as needed. Should a student fail a written requirement, a revision of that paper may be requested or the exam may be taken later in the semester. After the student has demonstrated competence in the three areas and the language requirement has been satisfied, a committee for the oral examination on these areas shall be formed in accordance with The Graduate School’s regulations. The committee, to be appointed by the chair of the department and approved by the dean of The Graduate School, is to consist of no fewer than four members, at least one of whom is from outside the department and all of whom agree to serve on the committee. Normally, this committee will serve as the student’s dissertation committee. The oral examination must be scheduled within six months after completion of the written requirements. All parts of the comprehensive, written and oral, should be completed before the end of the student’s fourth year.

The dissertation committee shall consist of at least four members, one of whom is from outside the department. The committee is to be appointed by the chair of the department and approved by the dean of The Graduate School. Normally, the comprehensive examination committee will serve as the student’s dissertation committee. The dissertation committee will evaluate the student’s dissertation and administer the oral defense of the dissertation, which is to be a piece of original research of high professional quality. The committee members have the right to approve, request revisions and further analysis, or reject the dissertation. When the approved dissertation is accepted by The Graduate School and all other requirements have been met, the Ph.D. degree will be granted.

Course Descriptions (SOCY)

  • 500–Social Networks. (3) (Prereq: SOCY 300 or consent of instructor) Analysis of personal, social and organizational networks, their structural patterns, practical consequences, and principles of formation and change.
  • 501–Cities and Politics. (3) (Prereq: SOCY 300 or consent of instructor) The social forces, contemporary and historical, that form the present urban political system.
  • 502–Political Sociology. (3) (Prereq: SOCY 300 or consent of instructor) Theory and research concerning the interrelationship between the polity and social structures.
  • 503–Family and Social Stratification. (3) (Prereq: SOCY 300 or consent of instructor) An analysis of the contemporary American family emphasizing social stratification, mobility, occupations, and urbanization.
  • 504–Social Stratification. (3) (Prereq: SOCY 300 or consent of instructor) Theory and research in social stratification.
  • 505–Social Structures in Communities. (3) (Prereq: SOCY 300 or consent of instructor) Interrelationships of major social structures within communities.
  • 506–Social Organizations. (3) (Prereq: SOCY 300 or consent of advisor) Selected theoretical orientation, methodological procedures, and illustrative substantive issues pertaining to organizations.
  • 507–Sociology of Social Control. (3) (Prereq: SOCY 300 or consent of instructor) Early and contemporary theories, methods, and issues relating to conformity in human interaction.
  • 508–Freedom and Determination. (3) (Prereq: SOCY 300 or consent of instructor) Sociological theories of voluntarism and determinism.
  • 509–Advanced Social Structures. (3) (Prereq: SOCY 300) The analysis of core methodological and substantive issues in the study of social structures.
  • 510–Human Fertility. (3) (Prereq: SOCY 310) Social influences on patterns of reproduction, impact of public policies, and social consequences of fertility variations.
  • 511–Human Mortality. (3) (Prereq: SOCY 310) Changing patterns of death in society, social forces determining mortality, and societal reactions to mortality trends.
  • 512–Internal and International Migration. (3) (Prereq: SOCY 310 or consent of instructor) A survey of methods of analysis and research findings with emphasis on the social and economic concomitants of internal migration. Cultural, economic, and historical aspects of international migration. Effects of governmental policies on immigration and emigration. Examination of selected countries.
  • 513–Demographic Aspects of the Life Cycle. (3) (Prereq: SOCY 310 or consent of instructor) Theoretical, methodological, and substantive issues in the demographic analysis of life cycle phenomena, including marriage, education, labor force participation, occupational choice, and retirement.
  • 514–Urbanization. (3) (Prereq: SOCY 310 or consent of instructor) Analysis of urbanization using contemporary and historical data from developing societies. The demographic components of metropolitan growth and the changing structure of metropolitan communities.
  • 520–Social Behaviorism. (3) (Prereq: SOCY 320 or consent of instructor) Current theory and research relating to social interaction, communication, group structure, and social control.
  • 521–Small Group Analysis. (3) (Prereq: SOCY 320 or consent of instructor) A behavioral analysis of small groups.
  • 522–Power and Authority Structures in Groups. (3) (Prereq: SOCY 320 or consent of instructor) An exploration of theoretical perspectives, methodological approaches, and substantive issues in the study of interpersonal power and authority.
  • 523–Social Processes of Deviance Control. (3) (Prereq: SOCY 320 or consent of instructor) A systematic analysis of the interrelation among the creation, involvement, recognition, and control of deviance.
  • 524–Interpersonal Behavior in Families. (3) Social psychological perspectives on family behavior.
  • 525–Selves and Social Transaction. (3) (Prereq: SOCY 320 or consent of instructor) A systematic analysis of interrelationships among social acts, selves, roles, transactions, and language.
  • 526–Social Attitudes. (3) (Prereq: SOCY 320 or consent of instructor) Analysis of the formation, organization, measurement, and effects of social attitudes including the relationship between attitudes and behavior.
  • 550–Sociology of Science. (3) Interrelationships among society, culture, and contemporary science.
  • 557–Sociology of Education and Inequality. (3) (Prereq: SOCY 320 or consent of instructor) Advanced inquiry into the relationship between education and inequality.
  • 598–Selected Topics. (3) Readings and research on selected sociological topics. Course and content varies and will be announced in the schedule of classes by suffix and title.
  • 698–Special Topics. (3) Reading and research.
  • 701–Scientific Methods and Sociological Inquiry. (3) Introduction to methods used to answer theoretical, empirical, and practical sociological questions, including scientific inquiry and research design.
  • 705–Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality. {=WOST 705} (3) Historical and contemporary dimensions of social inequality centered in race, social class, gender, and sexuality.
  • 710–Selected Scholars of Society and Social Behavior: Classical. (3) Survey of theoretical and empirical works of sociological scholars prior to about 1920.
  • 711–Selected Scholars of Society and Social Behavior: Contemporary. (3) Survey of theoretical and empirical works of sociological scholars since about 1920.
  • 712–Concept Formation. (3) (Prereq: SOCY 701) Selected topics in conceptualization of social phenomena and research strategies in sociology. Examples of current sociological research programs are studied to determine whether they yield cumulative knowledge, and reasons why they do or do not. Criteria for assessing ways to produce sociological understanding are developed.
  • 713–Theory Construction. (3) (Prereq: SOCY 701) Presentation and study of the major theory groups in contemporary sociology, including functionalism, exchange, and consistency theories. Analysis of theoretical perspectives using criteria of logical consistency and adequacy of explanation. Techniques of building formal theory in sociology.
  • 719–Selected Topics in Sociological Theory. (3) (Prereq: SOCY 710)
  • 720–Critical Survey of Research Methods. (3) Survey of data-gathering techniques used in sociology including questionnaires, interviews, surveys, archival searches, experiments, and observational techniques.
  • 721–Topics in Scaling and Measurement Methods. (3) Selected topics in scaling and measurement of social science data emphasizing exploratory and descriptive techniques such as correspondence analysis, proximity scaling and contingency table representations.
  • 729–Selected Sociological Topics in Methodology. (3) (Prereq: SOCY 701)
  • 730–Statistical Analysis in Sociology. (3) (Prereq: SOCY 701) Introduction to statistical analysis in sociology, including bivariate and multiple regression, correlation and analysis of variance.
  • 739–Selected Topics in the Quantitative Analysis of Sociological Data. (3) (Prereq: SOCY 701)
  • 745–Human Ecology and Urbanization. (3) Classical and contemporary theories of human ecology, cities, and urban life treated at urban, regional, national and international levels.
  • 749–Selected Sociological Topics in Demography. (3) (Prereq: SOCY 701)
  • 751–Topics in the Analysis of Social Networks. (3) Selected topics in the theory, measurement, and analysis of social networks.
  • 759–Selected Sociological Topics in Social Structures. (3) (Prereq: SOCY 701)
  • 760–Contemporary Group Processes. (3) Theories and problems in contemporary group processes; primary emphasis on theories of status, power, justice, emotion, and legitimacy.
  • 761–Network Exchange Theory. (3) Theory growth and competition in network exchange; how theory is best constructed, how it is tested, and how it is extended.
  • 764–History of American Women. {=HIST 764} (3) Selected research topics on the cultural, social, economic, and political roles and contributions of American women.
  • 766–Social Psychology of Race. (3) Impact of race and the social psychology of the individual on social life in the U.S. Includes study of self-concept and group memebership as contributors to status attainment.
  • 769–Selected Sociological Topics in Social Psychology. (3) (Prereq: SOCY 701)
  • 770–Teaching Sociology. (1—3) (Prereq: SOCY 701) An exploration of college teaching of sociology, including goals, means, and challenges.
  • 790–Special Topics: Reading and Research. (3)
  • 791–Special Topics: Reading and Research. (3)
  • 796–Research Apprenticeship. (3) Intensive involvement in a faculty research project for the purpose of developing professional research skills.
  • 799–Thesis Research and Preparation. (1—9 each)
  • 814–Theories of Population Dynamics. (3) (Prereq: SOCY 749) Systematic theories of population dynamics, demographic change as a cause/consequence of other social processes, inherent momentum of population dynamics. Meets department requirements for third theory course.
  • 841–Advanced Demographic Analysis. (3) (Prereq: SOCY 749) Doctoral seminar covering data quality evaluation, standardization, life table construction, migration and population projection matrices, and other advanced demographic methods.
  • 890–Special Topics: Reading and Research. (3)
  • 891–Special Topics: Reading and Research. (3)
  • 899–Dissertation Preparation. (1—12)

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