Doctoral Area Examinations

If you are a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology at Western Michigan University, you will be required to select two areas of concentration and to complete an examination in each area by the time you've completed your 45th credit hour in the doctoral program. Successful completion of the area examinations is required before you may defend a dissertation prospectus.

A doctoral degree in sociology is granted only to those who have achieved a level of mastery that is necessary to become a professional in the field (i.e., you are able to contribute to the knowledge base of sociology through research and teaching). The area examinations are qualifying exams and your performance on both area examinations must demonstrate a level of mastery that is sufficient for becoming a viable professional in the field of sociology. The area examinations:

  • Allow you an opportunity to demonstrate expertise—in terms of both breadth and depth of knowledge—in theory, research methods and special topics within two selected areas of sociology.
  • Give the faculty an opportunity to assess your progress toward becoming a professional sociologist and to identify areas that may need improvement before completing a doctoral degree.

Exam guidelines

Each of the concentration areas has a doctoral program committee responsible for general supervision and policy formation in its area.