Handbook

Introduction

Founded as a four-year institution in 1934, the University of Houston began as a community junior college in 1927 in order to serve the educational needs of the Houston area. The Board of Regents, in November 1950, voted to seek state support as an independent unit in the state system of higher education. Under the provisions of Senate Bill 2 of the 57th Legislature, the University of Houston became the twentieth of the colleges and universities supported by the State of Texas, effective September 1, 1963. Today, the central campus of the University of Houston system is the third largest state-supported university unit in Texas with a student body of over 39,000 and a faculty of around 2000. Ranked among the four largest cities in the country, and the third largest port city, and located in the Southwest in close proximity to Mexico and Latin America, the Houston urban area offers the University unique opportunities to serve international, national, regional, and local interests. Houston with its environs is a highly diverse metropolitan urban area and the University of Houston not only reflects this diversity, but, is committed to it.

The College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) was founded Spring, 2000, as a reorganization and synthesis integration of the former Colleges of Humanities and Social Sciences. The College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) administers the Graduate Programs of the twenty departments within the College which now includes those formerly affiliated with the College of Social Sciences - Sociology, Political Science, Economics, Psychology, and Anthropology - joined with those from Humanities - History, English, Communications, Journalism, Languages - among others. The Sociology Department's graduate program, leading to the M.A. degree, began in the Fall of 1957.

General Requirement for M.A. Degree

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The Department of Sociology considers the Master of Arts degree to be: (1) training in preparation for a Ph.D. program, or (2) a professional degree in applied sociology. In order to accomplish these goals, the department offers both a thesis and an applied internship route to the Master of Arts degree. These programs provide wide latitude for students aspiring to develop a sociological background. Students contemplating further education beyond a master's degree are strongly advised to discuss the selection of the thesis or internship program options with their advisor and committee members. Students can expect to complete a total of 36 graduate hours in either tract (thesis or internship) in order to receive an M.A. degree.

Required Courses: The Department of Sociology requires that students complete 15 hours of core courses, which include Sociological Theory (SOC 6300), Proseminar (SOC 6302), Social Statistics (SOC 6304), Quantitative Methods (SOC 6306), and Qualitative Research Methods (SOC 6311). It is recommended that students have completed introductory undergraduate courses in statistics, theory, and research methods prior to applying to the program or enrolling in these required core courses. A student may not enroll in thesis hours or internship hours until all five core courses have been successfully completed.

Electives: The elective hours may be chosen from any of the 6000 level courses in the Sociology Department. If appropriate for a student's area of concentration, six (6) hours of electives may be taken outside the Department of Sociology with prior consent of the Sociology Graduate Advisor or the student's own advisor of record. A request for such approval must be made by a graduate petition form and the approved petition form must be kept in the student’s graduate file.

Special Problems: (SOC 6398) Three (3) credit hours of an independent readings course may be allowed toward the elective credits. Students seeking to take an independent study course must obtain permission from the Graduate Advisor. To enroll in any special problems course, students must acquire permission from a faculty member who will be supervising the course, must provide a reading list, must complete the University's General Petition form and obtain required approval signatures before credit will be granted. The approved petition will be kept in the student’s graduate file.

4000 Level Courses: No Sociology Department undergraduate level courses (4000 or below) will apply toward a Master's degree. Courses in other departments at the 4000 level may apply only if the department in which the course is taken allows graduate credit for the specific course within its own department.

Academic Standards: The University requires students to maintain at least a B average in all course work. In the event that students receive four grades of C+ or below they will automatically be dropped from the program. The Sociology Department further requires that students must receive a grade of B- or better in each of the required graduate Sociology core courses (Soc 6300, Soc 6302, Soc 6304, Soc 6306, and Soc 6311). In addition, the average grade for these five courses must be a B or better. Upon receiving a grade below B- in a required course, the student may petition the Sociology Graduate Committee to retake that course. The Graduate Committee will decide whether to approve the petition or not. A student is entitled to only one such petition in his/her tenure in the Soc MA program. If a student receives two C+‘s in core courses, the student will be dropped from the program.

Advisement: Generally, during the first 18 hours taken as a graduate student in the Sociology Department, the departmental Graduate Advisor will advise students. During the beginning of each semester graduate students are required to meet with the Graduate Advisor. All graduate students are required to meet with the Graduate Advisor at least once during  each semester that they are enrolled in the program. No later than upon the completion of 18 hours of coursework, each student selects from the faculty either a thesis committee Chair or an internship committee supervisor with a specialty in the student's area of interest. This Chair/Supervisor will serve as the student's thesis/internship director and will counsel the student concerning course work and direct the student in the completion of either thesis or the internship report. Faculty have the right to refuse to serve as a student's committee chair/supervisor. Students have the right to change their chair/supervisor by writing the Graduate Committee. The departmental Graduate Advisor must be informed in writing of selection and change of Chairs/Supervisors.

Enrollment Requirements: There is no continuously enrollment policy at UH or in the Department of Sociology. However, a student who has not enrolled for two consecutive semesters, may need to reactivate their status by submitting a general petition. It is recommended that a student who foresees a long absence, petition for a leave of absence or receive a medical withdrawal. If a student is enrolled fulltime and maintains academic progress, he/she will finish in a minimum of 2 years (4 semesters). However, according to UH policy, the student has up to 5 years to complete the degree. If a student is does not finish in a 5 year period, he/she must petition for a waiver of the 5-year rule.

M.A. Thesis Program

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This program is specifically designed for students who wish to undertake individual research leading to the development of a thesis. Requirements for this program include 12 hours of specifically required core courses and 6 hours of thesis. In addition to these specific requirements, students must have a minimum of 18 semester hours of electives at the graduate level.

  1. SOC 6300 (Seminar in Sociological Theory) 3 hrs
  2. SOC 6304 (Social Statistics) 3 hrs
  3. SOC 6306 (Seminar in Quantitative Methods) 3 hrs
  4. SOC 6311 (Seminar in Qualitative Research Methods) 3 hrs
  5. SOC 6399/7399 (Master's Thesis) 6 hrs max
  6. Electives (6000 Level) 18 hrs

All graduate students in Sociology who are endeavoring to earn an M.A. under the thesis track must complete a thesis and its defense prior to graduation. It is strongly recommended that students begin a thesis as soon as they have completed the four required core courses.

Thesis Procedures

  • Each student must select a thesis committee before beginning formal thesis work. All such committees will consist of a minimum of three (3) faculty members. Two of these faculty members must come from the Sociology faculty at the University of Houston, one of which will serve as the Thesis Committee Chair. The third member must be selected from outside the Department of Sociology. Faculty members have the right to decline thesis committee duty at any time.
  • After having selected the chair and members of the committee, students are required to complete the College of Social Sciences Thesis Committee Appointment form available from the Graduate Advisor or the office of the Academic Dean of the College of Social Sciences. This form must signed by the Committee Chair and must be in the student’s graduate file.
  • The student will arrange a meeting of the committee and submit a thesis proposal. This proposal should include a literature review, the student's research intent, appropriate methodology, and references.
    • The committee will decide whether the submitted proposal qualifies as an adequate thesis project. If the committee views the proposal as unsatisfactory, then the student must rework the proposal until it meets the committee's expectations.
    • Committee members will sign the proposal once it has met their approval.
    • It is understood that the signed proposal shall constitute a contract binding upon both the student and his/her committee. Changes in the research design necessitate the mutual approval of the student and the committee.
  • After the student has received the committee's approval on the submitted proposal, the student will begin work on the thesis. Students are strongly encouraged to work closely with their committee at all times. This will ensure a minimal amount of repetitive and wasted effort.
  • If the thesis involves getting data from human subjects, it is the responsibility of the student to apply for Human Subjects Approval in the Office of Grants and Contracts (OGC) located in Ezekiel Cullen. OGC's deadlines are strictly enforced, therefore, students should contact OGC during the early stages of developing a thesis proposal in order to prepare their applications by the appropriate deadlines.
  • Upon completion of the thesis, the student will arrange a defense time convenient to the student and committee members. The defense is to be conducted by the committee and is open to all faculty and students who desire to attend. At least one week in advance of the scheduled defense, the student must post around the department an announcement indicating the date, time, location, and title of the thesis, plus an abstract of the thesis and must place copies in each faculty member's mailbox.
  • During the defense the committee will evaluate the thesis and may indicate to the student any weaknesses that require correction. If the committee deems the thesis satisfactorily completed, the student undertakes the preparation of the three (3) finalized copies required by the University of Houston. Students should obtain the Guidelines for Thesis brochure from the office of the Academic Dean in the College of Social Sciences. This brochure specifies how the thesis is to be prepared for binding. Note that the thesis must be successfully defended and ready for binding approximately two weeks before the last day of classes in the semester of intended graduation.

M.A. Internship Program

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In addition to 12 hours of sociology core course requirements and 18 hours of electives, this program is designed with the intent that students will spend a minimum of six (6) semester hours, including approximately 300 hours working in a community agency or organization, learning practical skills through the application of their sociological knowledge. Course requirements for the M.A. internship program are as follows:

  1. SOC 6300 (Seminar in Sociological Theory) 3 hrs
  2. SOC 6304 (Social Statistics) 3 hrs
  3. SOC 6306 (Seminar in Quantitative Methods) 3 hrs
  4. SOC 6311 (Seminar in Qualitative Research Methods) 3 hrs
  5. SOC 7395/7396 (Internship) 6 hrs min
  6. Electives (6000 Level) 18 hrs
    (Total) 36 hrs

Whereas the M.A. thesis is typically interpreted as preparation for a doctoral program and/or for positions requiring technical skills for organizational research, an internship is more often viewed as providing training for immediate entry into the labor force. An internship is a training experience through which a student learns to apply sociological knowledge and research skills to program evaluation and development, the daily operations of a program or agency, or clinical intervention. Internships usually extend over two semesters, with the expectation that the student will spend approximately 10 hours each week in the internship setting, i.e. a total of at least 300 hours. The result in a final internship paper which will be defended.

Internship Committee

Internship placements are made jointly by the student, a faculty member (i.e., the Internship Supervisor) and an agency sponsor who will be responsible for the internship project. After preliminary discussion among all three parties concerning work supervision and evaluation of a final written product, a committee is then established to review and approve the internship. The committee consists of the faculty supervisor, another faculty member in the Sociology Department, and the agency sponsor.

After the committee approves the project, an internship agreement form is completed, signed by the student, the members of the committee and the agency sponsor, and placed in the student's permanent file. Copies of the internship agreement form can be obtained from the Graduate Advisor. It is important that the student, faculty supervisor, and agency host clearly understand and mutually agree to the terms of the internship agreement.

Internship Procedures

  • All interns must submit a final internship report, agreed upon by all members of the committee, to take one or more of the following forms:
    • A research paper based on data drawn from the internship, which takes the form of a publishable journal article.
    • A technical report to the sponsor presenting research findings drawn from the internship experience.
    • A sociological analysis of the structure and functioning of the organization or group in which the internship took place.
  • Upon completion of the internship, the student will submit the internship report. During the internship, the student may engage in written work (e.g., proposal writing, synopsizing literature, research reports, etc.) as part of the internship experience. This work does not substitute for the written internship report presented to the committee. The committee will evaluate the internship report and may indicate to the student weaknesses in need of correction.
  • In addition to the internship report, all interns must submit (to the committee) a paper no longer than 10 pages, to be placed in their permanent file, describing the range of work activities in which they engaged as part of their internship. This paper may be attached to the final internship report as an appendix.
  • The defense of the internship report is to be conducted by the committee and is open to all faculty and students. At least one week in advance of the scheduled defense, the student must post around the department an announcement indicating the date, time, location, title, and abstract of the internship and place a copy in each faculty member's mailbox.
  • When the committee deems the internship satisfactorily completed, the student will file a final copy of the internship report with the Department of Sociology. Because internship reports are not deposited in the University of Houston Library, students should not follow the binding procedures used for a thesis. Instead, all final internship reports will be spiral bound with a clear cover. The internship report should follow the manuscript style used in the American Sociological Review.

Graduate Assistantship

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The Department of Sociology offers a number of research and teaching assistantships each year. These positions are available to both returning and incoming graduate students. The awarding of these positions is competitive and is based upon grade-point average, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and past experiences. Students interested in competing for these positions should obtain and complete the necessary forms from the Sociology Department Graduate Advisor.

Both research and teaching assistantships are offered on a semester basis, available only during the Fall and Spring semesters. A smaller number of summer teaching and research assistantships may be available and will be announced each Spring semester.

Teaching assistantships are awarded on a competitive basis. Advanced students are encouraged to seek other forms of financial assistance, such as paid internships or research assistantships. It is the Department's policy not to award a teaching assistantship for more than two years, with priority given to first year applicants.

Applications for Fall assistantships must be completed and received by the Department of Sociology no later than April 1 and Spring assistantships must be completed no later than November 1. Applications received later than these dates cannot be guaranteed consideration.

The semester assistantship program carries a beginning stipend of approximately $965 per month. Summer assistantships are pro-rated and adjusted higher to compensate for the increased workload.

The State of Texas mandates that students on teaching or research assistantships must register during the regular academic year for a minimum of nine (9) credit hours of course work per semester.

Teaching Assitantships

Three teaching assistantships (TAs) are designated for special assignments and are usually awarded to second year students. These are for the Data Lab Assistant, and Lab Instructor for Undergraduate Statistics (Fall) and Methods (Spring). All other TAs are assigned to one or more faculty members who will direct and coordinate the TA's activities. These TAs can expect to monitor and grade exams, grade papers and do assorted other work for the department and individual faculty. All TAs, regardless of assignment, can expect to work an average of 20 hours per week.

Research Assistantships

Students who are awarded research assistantships are assigned to one or more faculty members who are engaged in a particular research project. The research assistant will be familiarized with the project and be expected to partake in the ongoing work of the project. The specific tasks required of the assistant will depend upon the nature of the project, the division of labor as defined by the project's director, and the student's abilities.

Other Sources of Financial Aid

Students who are unable to acquire an assistantship through the Department of Sociology or who are unable to meet their financial obligations on the assistantship salary may seek alternative or additional financial aid through the Scholarship and Financial Aid Office. The Scholarship and Financial Aid Office directs the entire campus financial aid program for both graduate and undergraduate students. The types of aid and services provided include grants, loans, scholarships, and short-term loans.

Graduate students who have specific questions concerning financial matters, tuition waivers, loans, residency status, etc., are advised to read carefully the appropriate sections of the General Information Catalogue, which is available in Room 129 of Ezekiel Cullen.

Students who do not receive an assistantship and desire to obtain financial support should remain in close contact with the Graduate Committee of the Department of Sociology. By remaining in contact with the Graduate Committee, students will increase their chances of obtaining mid-year assistantships when they become available or other sources of aid that may open up throughout the academic year.

Werlin Memorial Scholarship Fund

The Joseph S. Werlin Memorial Scholarship Fund provides a one-time award of $150 to sociology graduate students. Funds may be allocated for travel to professional meetings or for thesis and internship expenses (e.g., data collection, travel, equipment, supplies, and thesis binding). Requests for Werlin funds should be made in writing to the Chair of the Sociology Department.

Procedures for Graduation

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Application for Graduation

Master's students must apply for graduation; Graduate degrees are not awarded automatically upon completion of scholastic work. Application should be filed early (no later than the date specified in the University's academic calendar) during the semester in which the student plans to graduate. Application for graduation is made in Room 108 Ezekiel Cullen.

Course Enrollment

Students completing the program (either thesis or internship) must enroll in both Sociology 6399 and 7399 (thesis) or 7395 and 7396 (internship) in succession and must be enrolled in 7399 the semester in which they graduate.

General Provisions

General provisions and regulations for graduate school are found in the current Graduate and Professional Studies Catalogue.

Catalogue

Students are entitled to graduate under degree provisions of the catalogue in effect at the time of their first completed semester of enrollment, with the following exceptions:

  1. A catalogue more than 10 years old shall not be used.
  2. If the program is interrupted for more than one year (for other than involuntary military service), a graduate student will be governed by the catalogue of re-entrance.
  3. If a change of major is made from one college to another in the University, the student will be governed by the degree requirements in effect at the time the change of major is effected.

Right to Petition

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Graduate students who believe they have been unfairly dealt with or who maintain other grievances that pertain to their graduate career and the operations of the Sociology Department may petition in writing one or more of the following: Graduate Committee, Chair of the Department, and/or the Faculty-at-Large.

Department of Sociology Graduate Courses

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The following is a complete list of the graduate courses offered by the Department of Sociology.

  SOC 6398: Special Problems (3 credits)  - A reading course supervised by approved faculty member.

*SOC 6300: Seminar in Sociological Theory (3 credits)

*SOC 6302: Proseminar (3 credits)

*SOC 6304: Social Statistics (3 credits)

*SOC 6306: Seminar in Quantitative Methods (3 credits)

*SOC 6311: Seminar in Qualitative Sociological Methods (3 credits)

  SOC 6312: Seminar in the Sociology of Work and Occupations (3 credits)

  SOC 6325: Seminar in Minority Groups (3 credits)

  SOC 6330: Seminar in Social Psychology (3credits)

  SOC 6335: Seminar in Aging and Social Policy (3 credits)

  SOC 6341: Seminar in Formal Organizations (3 credits)

  SOC 6350: Seminar in the Sociology of the Body (3 credits)

  SOC 6351: Seminar in Social Stratification (3 credits)

  SOC 6352: Seminar in Population (3 credits)

  SOC 6357: Seminar in Urban Sociology (3 credits)

  SOC 6360: Seminar in the Sociology of Urban Education (3 credits)

  SOC 6362: Seminar in Social Change (3 credits)

  SOC 6363: Seminar Theories of Social Deviance (3 credits)

  SOC 6375: Seminar in the Sociology of Law (3 credits)

  SOC 6380: Seminar in Medical Care (3 credits)

  SOC 6390: Seminar in the Sociology of Gender (3 credits)

  SOC 6391: Seminar in the Sexuality and Society

  SOC 6392-6393: Practicum in Research (3 credits)

  SOC 6397: Selected Topics in Sociology and Social Psychology (3 credits)

**SOC 6399-7399: Thesis (3 credits each)

***SOC 7395-7396: Sociological Internship (3 credits each)
Consent of Instructor required.

* These courses are required of all graduate students. Students are advised to take these courses as soon as possible.

** Both sections of the thesis series 6399/7399 are required of all students in the Master's program with thesis.

*** Both sections of this series 7395/7396 are required of all students in the Master's program with internship.