Sociology & Anthropology

Success in the Program

In the words of Norman K. Denzin, "Doing sociology is not easy." Those of you considering obtaining a Master of Arts degree in sociology should be prepared to work harder than you ever worked as an undergraduate. You will read more than you ever thought possible, you will write more in one course, perhaps, than you wrote during your entire undergraduate career. Hopefully, in meeting these challenges, your skills will become sharper and you will experience the thrill of discovery and accomplishment. You will meet people who will become friends and colleagues for years to come. You may make a noticeable contribution to the great body of sociological knowledge. Your chances of success in graduate school will depend on a number of factors, some of which you can weigh at the outset.

Undergraduate preparation

Sociology majors with strong grades generally do well in the program. If your undergraduate grades were weak, you must be prepared to make a substantial and immediate improvement in academic performance. Only two grades of C are allowed in graduate school, and D's and F's can be assigned by faculty.

Writing skills

You will likely be expected to write examinations, article critiques, and a 20 page term paper in your very first, and all other graduate courses. Be prepared to read and criticize each others work. Be prepared to improve your writing skills while in graduate school, but do not think you can learn to write in graduate school. You will not have time! The single greatest barrier to success in graduate school is weak writing skills.

Advisors and mentors

You must be willing to seek and accept advice from faculty and other students in both academic and procedural matters. You must be able to effectively use criticism of your academic work from professors.

Student etiquette

There is a high standard of student etiquette in graduate school. You are expected to arrive to class on time. Your are expected to have read the assigned material beforehand so that you can participate in class discussion. To do otherwise is to waste your time and that of the faculty and the other graduate students. You are expected to turn in assignments when they are due.

Graduate student subculture

You should be willing to get to know the other graduate students socially. We have a sociology graduate student organization that works for the benefit of the students, and an annual sociology symposium is held for graduate and undergraduate papers. In short, be willing to study and work together and to share your concerns and triumphs. Some of these people will remain your friends and colleagues for life.

Working for a masters degree is usually the first step in a career as a sociologist. Some who attain the masters degree will enter jobs bearing titles other than "sociologist", but will use their sociological skills and insights, nonetheless. A few who attain the masters degree will go on to Ph.D. programs in sociology, will enter university teaching, conduct research, and carry the title "sociologist" in a department of sociology.