Masters Requirements

The requirements listed below are special to this department and must be read in conjunction with the general requirements of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Free-Standing Master's Degree in Sociology

The Free-Standing Master's degree in sociology is an intensive, one-year program that combines academic training with research. The program fosters collaboration between students and communities by combining rigorous coursework with fieldwork and discovery in New York's urban environment. While our courses build a solid foundation in sociological theory and methods, the program supports research by linking students to data sources and field sites. Students work closely with faculty to apply concepts, develop expertise and build individual projects based on research and experiences in the urban community. The curriculum encourages diverse and innovative approaches to research and engagement at every step of the process, from the elaboration of projects to the final result. The initiative bridges the academic world and the public realm by opening a space for developing, discussing and presenting sociological work relevant to the public good.

The Department of Sociology, in collaboration with the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, will be offering tuition fellowships to outstanding applicants. A small fraction of prospective students, will be awarded up to 20% of first year tuition. 

Merit based decisions will be taken over March and April, and applicants need not submit additional materials. Recipients will be notified of the tuition award with their admissions decision letter.

Who should apply:

Our program supports students through every stage in the development and completion of a Masters thesis. Students pursue research questions in great depth, applying a variety of methods to the consideration of social problems in diverse settings and through a variety of methodological approaches. The program caters to students seeking graduate training in the social sciences, particularly but not exclusively to those interested in studying urban communities from a qualitative or mixed method approach. We also welcome applications from students seeking to combine qualitative and quantitative training, and those interested in pursuing research independent of the program focus.

Prospective students interested in pursuing an exclusively quantitative course of study are encouraged to consider the Quantitative Methods in Social Sciences MA program http://qmss.columbia.edu. QMSS training emphasizes the application of quantitative methods to social problems as they arise in business, government, and nonprofit organizations. Like our program, the QMSS program provides a strong foundation for those who go on to doctoral programs in the social sciences.

The free-standing MA in sociology provides a gateway for students wishing to continue on into a Ph.D. in the social sciences, preparation for professional careers in areas linked to the social sciences, and time and space for acquiring new skills and developing research projects among early and mid-career professionals interested in a year of graduate study.

New York City offers a unique opportunity to engage with the urban community and contribute to the public interest. Our Masters students graduate from the program with a firm foundation in social theory, exposure to and practical skills in a diverse set of sociological methods, and a completed research project. These elements prepare students effectively for the tracks they most frequently pursue once they leave our program, including further graduate study, professional training, work for NGOs and non-profit organizations, higher education jobs, and work in private industry.

Our Curriculum:

Our curriculum builds around the Masters thesis, with required courses designed to prepare students and sustain them through the year. Students are required to take four core courses, one in theory and two in methods and a year-long thesis seminar, which accompanies them through the stages of developing research, analyzing data and writing up the final document. Our theory course delves into the discipline’s foundational ideas and prepares students for contemporary theories they encounter in the department’s other course selections.. The first semester methodology course offers a module based introduction to qualitative methods. Three faculty members teach their own approaches to research, providing students with the tools to think about and begin exploring their questions. The second semester methodology workshop offers a collaborative environment in which students work through the puzzles and challenges that come up in their research and problem-solve together.

Beyond academic requirements, the program offers pro-seminar features current faculty and scholars in an open forum for discussing qualitative research, public sociology and the urban environment. The pro-seminar also includes training sessions to build academic and professional skills essential to their future careers. In addition to the basic requirements, MA students take elective courses from among graduate course offerings in sociology. Those wishing to take courses in other programs and departments may do so with the approval of the MA advisor.

In addition to the support of the MA advisor and the faculty teaching required courses, students are paired up with faculty advisors who meet with them throughout the year.

MASTERS REQUIREMENTS

The requirements listed below are special to this department and must be read in conjunction with the general requirements of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

The courses and points are distributed as follows:

Fall semester:

·         Classical Theory (4 points)

·         Qualitative methods (3 points)

·         Thesis seminar (3 points)

·         Field work (1 point)

·         One elective in sociology (3 points)

·         Pro-seminar (meets bi-weekly) (1 point)

Spring semester:

·         Methods workshop (4 points)

·         Thesis seminar (3 points)

·         Field work (1 point)

·         Two electives in sociology (6 points)

·         Pro-seminar (meets bi-weekly) (1 point)

Students submit the MA thesis proposal by the end of the first semester and the MA thesis by the end of the second semester.

Students are required to register for two Residence Units and to complete courses totaling at least 30 points with a grade point average of 3.00 or above. The required courses must be taken for a letter grade (20 points total) while other courses may be taken for a letter grade, R or P/F credit.

Students wishing to take courses outside of the department will need advance approval from the Masters Program Advisor, Denise Milstein (dm531@columbia.edu).

NOTE:  Students who enrolled in the Masters Program in 2012 or earlier should discuss the details of their program requirements with the MA Advisor.

Meet some of our alumni