MA, Sociology

The Graduate Program in Sociology

The Department of Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences at San José State University offers a General MA Degree in Sociology. The program is designed to prepare students for entry into PhD programs and provide skills and training necessary for employment as professional sociologists in other related occupations. We are looking for students who are curious about the social world, academically dedicated, and committed to the examination of society.

Sociology Graduate Program Hand Book 2015-2016

Requirements of the Master’s (30 units)

The MA degree in Sociology is a 30-unit program. Most classes are taught in the evening one night a week. Some classes meet twice a week from 4:30 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. In the course listings below, click on the course number to view the course description in the SJSU Catalog.


Students are admitted to the program “conditionally” while completing any prerequisites. All of our MA students are required to complete four undergraduate sociology prerequisites with a grade of B or better for each:

If these courses, or their equivalents, have not been taken as an undergraduate, or were completed with a grade lower than B, the courses must be taken and a grade of B or better earned before taking other required courses in the program.

Core Courses (12 units)

All students must complete the following four courses:

  • SOCI 200: Introduction to Sociological Practice
  • SOCI 201: Sociological Theory
  • SOCI 204: Quantitative Data Analysis
  • SOCI 205: Qualitative Research Methods

Students entering the sociology graduate program are required to demonstrate graduate-level writing skills in English. These writing skills are evaluated in SOCI 201 during the first semester. If a student’s writing is determined to need substantial improvement, the student will be required to take a writing course in addition to any other prerequisites before becoming classified in the program.

After Becoming Classified (24 units)

Upon achieving classified standing, the student and graduate advisor determine a course of study. The student’s candidacy form must be submitted to GAPE for approval upon which the student is admitted to candidacy for the degree. The department offers two plans of study culminating in the MA degree:

  • Plan A: Thesis
  • Plan B: Special Study

Basic Program—All Plans (18–21 units)

Upon completion of core coursework with a combined GPA of 3.0 or better, students take 12–15 units of graduate-level electives.

Upon approval of the graduate advisor, up to 6 units of upper division course work in Sociology or graduate-level non-sociology courses, or a combination of the two may count toward this requirement.

MA students may choose internships worth up to 6 units in non-profit, private, or government sectors as well as at community colleges. Students may apply to work on a faculty member’s project as a research intern. All internships must be approved by the graduate advisor prior to enrollment.

All MA students must complete two written comprehensive exams, one in theory, and one in research methods and data analysis. Both these exams must be passed before a student may sign up for any other comprehensive exams or begin a thesis.

Culminating Experience (3–6 units)

Plan A (Thesis)

Students selecting the thesis option must demonstrate research and writing competency and show the ability to conduct independent research. The student, with the approval of the graduate advisor, selects a thesis or creative project committee consisting of at least three members, two of whom must be from the faculty in the Department of Sociology and Interdiscipinary Studies. The chair of the committee must also be a tenured or tenure-track faculty member in the department. The student may enroll in 3–6 units of Thesis/Research hours (SOCI 299) with the professor designated as chair of the committee:

Plan B (Special Study)

Plan B students are required to complete SOCI 298, which is a special study project (3 units):

With a General MA Degree in Sociology

Employment Possibilities

Community college instructor, researcher, data analyst, outreach and recruitment coordinator, counselor, research program director.

PhD Programs

Students graduating from the SJSU Sociology MA program have been admitted to fine PhD programs throughout the country. Most recently, students have gone on to study at the University of Colorado, UC Riverside, UC Irvine, UC Davis, Stanford, Iowa, UCLA, Syracuse University, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Admissions Requirements

Graduate Admissions is a two-step process. You must first be accepted by the University. Once SJSU determines that you meet the requirements for Graduate Admissions, your application is referred to the Department of Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences for additional consideration by the Graduate Committee of the department.

Admission to the University

For details on Graduate Admissions requirements for SJSU, consult Graduate Admissions and Program Evaluations (GAPE).  The department does not require the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) at this time.

Admission to the Department of Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences

The Department of Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences sets criteria for admission that are higher than the base standards established by the University. The department also requires supplemental materials above and beyond what the University requests in order to evaluate applications. The special requirements of the Department of Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences are as follows:

  • A grade point average of 3.0 or higher
  • A statement of purpose—This should be a 2–4 page (typed, double-spaced) statement of the applicant’s purpose for applying to graduate school, career goals, and areas of interest or specialization.
  • Two letters of recommendation—These should be from faculty members who know the applicant’s potential for graduate school. In certain cases, one letter may be from an employer who can attest to the applicant’s ability and potential for graduate work.
  • A writing sample—This should be a 5–10 page paper written in a sociology course, or in a related field. The writing sample should highlight the applicant’s writing ability and analytical skills.


Graduate Admissions is, as indicated above, a two-step process, and each step has its own procedures and deadlines.

Step 1: Applying to the University

Consult Graduate Admissions and Program Evaluations (GAPE) for detailed information on the procedure for applying to SJSU. Pay close attention to all of the following:

  • The procedure for applying online
  • Required supporting documents, which may include official transcripts, test scores, etc.
  • The addresses to which required documents are to be submitted
  • Use of the Document Submission Identification Form for submitting all documents
  • Deadlines for completing the online application and submitting required documents

Note that requirements differ for domestic applicants and international applicants.

The deadline for submitting an application via CSU Mentor for Fall 2016 is March 1st, 2016.

In your application to the General Sociology MA, use this application code22081

Step 2: Sending Materials to the Department of Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences

Submit the following documents directly to the Department of Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences:

  • A statement of purpose
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • A writing sample

Send these materials to the following address:

Graduate Advisor
Department of Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences
San José State University
One Washington Square
San José, CA 95192-0122

The deadline for receipt of all of these documents in the department for Fall 2016 is March 20th, 2016.

The Semester of Application

Note that all applications are for the fall semester. No admissions are allowed in spring semester. Moreover, the department does not defer admissions; if you do not enroll for the semester for which you are accepted, you will have to reapply.


For further information or questions, contact the graduate advisor:

Dr. Amy Leisenring