The Master of Arts Degree in Sociology is based upon a mandatory core of three graduate core courses (9 credits), which all students must complete.
- Contemporary Theory (520 - 3 credits)
- Qualitative Methods (561 - 3 credits)
- Quantitative Methods (562 - 3 credits)
Graduate students must also have previously taken or plan to take Classical Social Theory (455) or an equivalent.
Beyond this common graduate core, students can choose to pursue a course of study in General Sociology, or one of the three option areas: Criminology, Inequality and Social Justice, or Rural and Environmental Change. The graduate program allows for a thesis or professional paper option. Students choosing the thesis option must complete 30 credits, which may include six credits of Thesis/Professional Paper (599). A thesis is an original, in-depth study in which the student is expected to make clear linkages between sociological theory, data collection techniques, and research findings. The professional paper option requires 36 credits, three of which may be in Graduate Research (597) for work done on the professional paper. The professional paper is less theoretical, more narrowly focused, and more applied than a thesis.
At least half of all credits earned must be at the 500-level; however, with few exceptions, 300 and 400-level courses may also be applied to the graduate degree. All undergraduate courses taken for graduate credit require a "graduate increment" consisting of additional reading or writing.