Coursework Requirement

Students in the Sociology Ph.D. program must complete their coursework before taking the Preliminary Exam (i.e., defending their dissertation proposals) at the end of the third year of study. Students may continue to take courses after defending their proposals, but course requirements must be complete by that time.
Duke offers two types of courses: regular (3-credit) courses and half (1.5 credit) courses. Unless otherwise specified, course requirements can be fulfilled by either type of course.

Core Courses

First-year students must:

  • take 6 required courses (all regular 3-credit courses) in their first year of study
    • 2 courses on theory
    • 2 courses on statistics
    • 2 courses on research methods
  • attend a statistics "boot camp" the week before classes begin their first semester


Students must complete 9 electives:

2 methods electives 

Methods electives can cover any empirical method, ranging from network analysis to topic modeling to in-depth interviewing. Half-courses may be used to fulfill this requirement. Students who wish to use non-departmental courses to fulfill this requirement should check with the DGS in advance to make sure that the course qualifies as a methods elective.

7 additional electives

These elective courses may be taken in any substantive or methodological area. No more than 4 half-courses may be used to fulfill this requirement.
In all, students must take at least 5 of their 9 elective courses from Duke Sociology. 

Transfer Credit

Students who have completed a graduate degree in Sociology at another university may petition the DGS to substitute up to three previous courses in place of non-departmental electives. Substitution for core courses is not usually permitted and requires the permission of the DGS and the instructor of the course in question.

Coursework Timeline

All required coursework — 6 core courses and 9 electives — must be completed by the end of Spring semester of the third year of study. Students are free to take courses after that, but all 15 required courses must be completed by that time.