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Academic Program Requirements

Curriculum Requirements

The M.A. in Applied Sociology consists of 10 courses totaling 30 credits. Required courses include one methods course (SOCY 600), one statistics course (SOCY 604), and another approved methods or statistics course (either SOCY 618 – SAS for Social Scientists or SOCY 619 – Qualitative Methods in Social Research). The remaining courses are a combination of electives and the capstone requirement (Master’s Thesis or Master’s Paper). A total of two courses may be taken outside the department, but they must be approved by the Graduate Program Director prior to enrollment. Students may also enroll in one graduate-level three credit Independent Study course as part of their elective course requirements.

A normal full-time load is 9 credits (3 courses) per semester. Most full-time students can complete the program in 3 semesters plus a summer or winter session course. Full-time students who begin the program in the Fall semester will take SOCY 600 and proceed to SOCY 604 in the Spring. Students who begin in the Spring semester will take elective courses their first semester, SOCY 600 in the Fall semester, and SOCY 604 in the next Spring semester. Part-time students usually complete the program in 2 to 2.5 years. Part-time students who are employed full-time are strongly urged to take only one course their first semester at UMBC. If they find that they are capable of taking an additional course, they can take two courses in subsequent semesters. All students must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better order to graduate.

Degree-seeking students in the Applied Sociology program may choose either the Master’s Thesis option (15 course credits and 6 Thesis credits) or the Master’s Paper option (18 course credits and 3 Master’s Paper credits). Both courses of study require 30 hours of course work. The Master’s Thesis option is designed for students who plan to enter doctoral programs and is recommended for students interested in community college teaching. The Master’s Thesis option requires a committee chair and two faculty members. The Master’s Paper option is more appropriate for students entering or continuing professional careers following the M.A. degree. The Master’s Paper option requires two faculty readers.

Early in their academic careers, students must decide whether to pursue the Master’s Thesis or Master’s Paper option and select a thesis chair or first reader of their master’s paper who will also serve as their faculty advisor. Students should maintain close contact with their faculty advisor in order to develop a viable program of study and avoid graduation delays. When a research topic has been agreed upon, students, with assistance of their faculty advisor, will develop either a Master’s Paper outline or a Master’s Thesis proposal, and the student will register either for 3 credits of Master’s Paper Research (SOCY 711) in one semester or 3 credits of Master’s Thesis Research (SOCY 799) in each of two semesters. Students cannot enroll in these courses without the permission of their formal advisor. Students should become familiar with the university’s requirements and deadlines for organizing and submitting the master’s paper or thesis. All students must select a thesis chair or first reader after they have completed 18 credits in the program.

The Master’s Thesis is approved by a committee consisting of a committee chair and two committee members. The chair assists the student in selecting the two other members of the Thesis committee. The student works with the chair to prepare a Thesis proposal, which is approved by the committee after an oral thesis proposal defense. Upon completion, the Thesis is presented in an oral thesis defense to the committee for approval. This process takes two semesters. A Master’s Paper is an extensive research paper and can consist of a literature review of a research question or involve original research. The faculty advisor assists the student in selecting the second reader of the paper. The student works closely with both readers to complete the paper, which always takes longer than one semester. The student should therefore begin work on the master’s paper before their last semester at UMBC. A complete draft of your Master’s Paper is due to your first reader by the 13th week of classes.

Course of Study

See the Graduate Catalog for a complete listing of all courses and degree requirements, as well as course descriptions. Refer to the Schedule of Classes for current semester offerings. For more information, call 410-455-3365.

1. Required Courses (9 Credits)
  • SOCY 600 Research Methodology (3.00): This course is offered only in the fall semester. It should be taken as early as possible in the program.
  • SOCY 604 Statistical Analysis (3.00): Prerequisite: SOCY 600 – This course is offered only in the spring semester. It should be taken immediately after SOCY 600.
  • A third graduate level methods or statistics course from an approved list (3.00). The courses include SOCY 618 (SAS for the Social Sciences) and SOCY 619 (Qualitative Methods in Social Research).
2a. Master’s Thesis Option (21 credits)
  • 5 Elective Courses (15.00)
  • SOCY 799 Master’s Thesis Research (6.00)

A committee consisting of a chair and two other faculty members will approve the thesis proposal and the thesis.

2b. Master’s Paper Option (21 credits)
  • 6 Elective Courses (18.00)
  • SOCY 711 Master’s Paper Research (3.00)

A first and second reader will approve the Master’s Paper.

Elective Courses

Regularly offered elective courses are listed below. Most of these courses are offered annually while others are offered periodically.

  • SOCY 600 Methodology of Social Science Research
  • SOCY 604 Statistical Analysis
  • SOCY 606 Social Inequality and Social Policy
  • SOCY 611 Constructing Race, Class, and Gender
  • SOCY 616 Cyberspace, Culture and Society
  • SOCY 618 SAS for Social Scientists
  • SOCY 619 Qualitative Methods in Social Research
  • SOCY 620 Social Epidemiology
  • SOCY 622 Inequality and Education
  • SOCY 630 Sociology of Aging
  • SOCY 631 Family and Aging in Society
  • SOCY 632 Work and Retirement
  • SOCY 633 Gender, Work and Family in Cross-Cultural Perspective
  • SOCY 634 Gender and the Life Course
  • SOCY 651 Sociology of Health and Illness Behavior
  • SOCY 652 Health Care Organization and Delivery
  • SOCY 658 Sociology of Mental Health and Illness
  • SOCY 663 Introduction to International Field Research
  • SOCY 670 Social Ties across the Life Course
  • SOCY 680 Applied Sociology
  • SOCY 681 The Social and Institutional Roles of Nonprofit Organizations in American Society
  • SOCY 685 Structure and Functions of Nonprofit Organizations
  • SOCY 698 Advanced Selected Topics in Sociology (e.g. Health of Underserved Populations; Sociology of Chronic and Life Threatening Illness; Neighborhoods and Health Inequality)
  • SOCY 701 Directed Independent Study
Track Your Progress

SOCY MA Checklist