Western University SociologyFaculty of Social Science

MA

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Degree Requirements

Students enter into a stream at the end of their first term in the program. Entry into the thesis stream requires the development and approval of a preliminary thesis proposal of 2-5 pages and the agreement of a supervisor who supports entry into this stream. See each respective stream, below, for the normal course requirements.

Six Term Thesis Stream

Thesis students must complete a minimum of six half-courses, a thesis proposal and an MA thesis, approved according to regulations established by the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

Courses—Students in this stream will take six courses, normally three in the fall term and three in the winter term.  Among their course selections, students must take one of Sociology 9002 (Classical Sociological Theory) or 9005 (Contemporary Social Theory), and one of Sociology 9001 (Introduction to Multivariate Statistics), 9003 (Quantitative Research Methods) or 9007 (Advanced Multivariate Statistics). A minimum of five of the six required courses must be graduate courses offered by the Department. The other may be a graduate course offered in another department or from an inter-disciplinary program. Students are advised to explore the possibilities that are available. As with any course selection, the approval of the graduate chair is required.

Students in collaborative programs should consult the respective web pages to determine required courses for the specialization (see side bar for links).

In exceptional circumstances, permission to take a reading course may be granted at the discretion of the graduate chair. Exceptional circumstances may include that there is no course being offered in the student's area of study (broadly, rather than narrowly considered) in a given year (not a given term) or that a student wishes to take additional courses beyond those that are required. Normally, students will be permitted to take a maximum of one reading course.

Thesis Supervisory Committee—By the end of the second term of the first year of study, the student must have a thesis supervisor. To serve as an MA thesis supervisor, the faculty member must be a member of the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and a member of the main campus Sociology Department at Western.  Click here for the Department of Sociology Finding A Supervisor web page.  The student and the supervisor sign the Thesis Supervisor form (see "Documents" at the top of this page) and submit it to the graduate program assistant.  It is the student's prerogative to change supervisors. In that case, a new form is to be completed and submitted. In the case of an impasse between the student and the supervisor, the graduate chair will adjudicate and determine an appropriate course of action. Either the student or the supervisor may bring such a matter to the attention of the graduate chair. 

MA Thesis Proposal—MA students are required to write a thesis proposal, normally in the third term of the program, under the supervision of the faculty member selected to be the thesis supervisor. The thesis proposal is considered a milestone of our program and requires:

1) The selection of a supervisory committee member. The expectation is that the supervisory committee member will serve as a "reader," providing feedback beginning at the proposal stage and throughout the writing process, and will read the thesis in its entirety before preliminary submission. A supervisory committee member must be a member of SGPS with at least non-core limited membership status (see the graduate program assistant for further details).

2) Approval of the proposal by both the supervisor and the supervisory committee member.

3) Completion by the end of the student’s third semester in residence.

4) Completion of the Thesis Proposal Report.

Format: The content and structure of the proposal should be developed in consultation with the supervisor before writing.  Please consult the following:

1) The MA Thesis Proposal Guidelines provide details such as what should be included and questions to consider in the preparation of your proposal A proposal typically provides key background literature, methods/methodology, and expected contributions. 

2) Ethics Approval—Students planning to conduct research involving human participants (e.g., survey, participant observation, interviews) need to obtain Ethics approval from the University's Non-Medical Research Ethics Board.  This is not a simple process and, since from start to finish the Ethics process could take up to 3 months, the student and supervisor need to plan accordingly.

MA Thesis—The submission of the Thesis Proposal Report represents a commitment by the student, supported by the thesis supervisor, to pursue the thesis upon completion of the thesis proposal. All procedures and formatting found in the School of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies' Thesis Regulation Guide must be followed in the preparation of a thesis. See the "Thesis Information" section of this handbook for further information.

Three Term Research Paper Stream

Students in the research paper stream must complete the required course work in the first two terms of study, participate in regularly scheduled meetings (offered in the winter term) in order to satisfy the MA Sociological Research Practicum Milestone, and complete a research paper.

Courses—Students in this stream will take six courses plus meet the requirements of the MA Sociological Research Practicum Milestone. Normally three courses are taken in the fall term and three courses are taken in the winter term. Among their course selections, students must take one of Sociology 9002 (Classical Sociological Theory), or 9005 (Contemporary Social Theory), and one of Sociology 9001 (Introduction to Multivariate Statistics), 9003 (Quantitative Research Methods) or 9007 (Advanced Multivariate Statistics). A minimum of five of the six required courses must be graduate courses offered by the Department. The other may be a graduate course offered in another department or from an inter-disciplinary program. Students are advised to explore the possibilities that are available. As with any course selection, the approval of the graduate chair is required.

Students in collaborative programs should consult the respective web pages to determine required courses for the specialization (see side bar for links).

In exceptional circumstances, permission to take a reading course may be granted at the discretion of the graduate chair. Exceptional circumstances may include that there is no course being offered in the student's area of study (broadly, rather than narrowly considered) in a given year (not a given term) or that a student wishes to take additional courses beyond those that are required. Normally, students will be permitted to take a maximum of one reading course.

Sociological Research—In the second semester of study, students will be required to participate in sessions designed to meet the requirements of the MA Sociological Research Practicum Milestone. Each student must complete a Research Paper Supervisor form (see "Documents" at the top of this page) and submit it to the graduate program assistant.

Research Paper—Students will complete their courses during the Fall and Winter terms, and will complete the research paper in the Summer term. This paper will be graded by the research paper supervisor.

Summary of Degree Requirements

Six-term Thesis Stream Three-term Research Paper Stream
Minimum number of courses
6 half-courses plus Thesis Proposal 6 half-courses plus Sociological Research Practicum
Mandatory courses

9001, 9003, or 9007

9002 or 9005

9001, 9003, or 9007

9002 or 9005

Other requirements
Thesis Research Paper
Expected duration of program
5-6 terms 3 terms