Degree Requirements

photo of a group of students

We offer two options leading to the MA degree: the thesis option and the research review paper option. The thesis option involves twelve course credits and a research-based thesis. Students choosing the research review paper option are required to complete eighteen course credits and write a major paper based on a critical review of a body of literature. All students are required to participate in a minimum of twelve weekly workshops.

Thesis Option

The thesis is an empircally-based research paper.  Empirical is construed broadl to include a variety of data including quantitative, qualitative, discourse/text based, historical/comparative, and so forth. You can collect your own data or use secondary analysis.

Students are expected to carry out the original research project planned in their proposal and report the results in appropriate thesis form. The thesis should demonstrate originality and understanding of the topic. Theses are typically 120 to 150 pages long, plus references.

If you are using human participants, attention should be paid to the Senate Policy for the Ethics Review Process for Research Involving Human Participants. This policy states that all university-based research involving human participants, whether funded or non-funded, faculty or student, scholarly, commercial or consultative, is subject to the ethics review process. Students should, therefore, familiarize themselves with (i) the Senate Policy for the Ethics Review Process for Research Involving Human Participants and (ii) the SSHRC/NSERC/CIHR Tri–Council Policy Statement Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans. Information about these policies can be found on the Faculty of Graduate Studies website.

Course Requirements

Completion of two full courses or the equivalent, including SOCI 5901 3.0 (Key Debates in Sociological Theory) and a 3.0 credit course in sociological methods. Courses which meet the methods requirement are: 6060, 6086, 6090, 6095, 6096, 6112, 6120, 6121, 6150. As the program is only able to offer a select number of methods courses during any academic year, not all of the courses which meet the methods requirement will be available for you to enrol.

The Workshop Requirement

The program organizes a weekly three–hour workshop in the fall (.pdf) and winter (.pdf) terms for graduate students. The workshops take place on Mondays at 11:30 in the Sociology Common Room (2101 Vari Hall). The purpose of the series is to provide students with an orientation to sociology, particularly focusing on the way the discipline is conceptualized and practiced in our program and in the field. A range of intellectual and professional sessions are offered over the course of the year. While some sessions are specifically designed for MA students and others for PhD students, workshops have the same objectives for all students: to showcase faculty and student research, to provide a forum for intellectual exchange, to promote a strong sense of collegiality and engender a sense of community among members of the program. Attendance is required at a minimum of twelve 3–hour weekly workshop sessions, normally within the first year of study as it is structured to help students move through the program. While this is the formal requirement, students are encouraged to attend all research–related workshops offered by the program.

Please note that there are no workshops scheduled in the summer term.

Supervisory Committee

At the core of a student's program is the formation of a two–person graduate faculty supervisory committee. This committee is a way to establish and maintain close contact with faculty members who share similar orientation and interests. While the committee is particularly important when working on the thesis, if it is in place early enough, the members can also act as academic advisors. Within the general parameters of program requirements, the supervisory committee is largely responsible for advising students on a course of study appropriate to their interests, assessing their work and progress, and for professional mentoring.

The specific composition of the supervisory committee is in the student's own hands, subject to the Director's approval and general Faculty of Graduate Studies regulations which specify the categories of membership which must be filled. Briefly stated:

MA supervisory committees MUST consist of a minimum of two members from the Faculty of Graduate Studies, one of whom must be from sociology and will serve as the principal supervisor. In exceptional circumstances, one additional member, who does not have an appointment to the Faculty of Graduate Studies MAY be included, but this requires prior approval by the Dean.

Faculty of Graduate Studies regulations state that MA students must have a supervisor in place by the end of their first term of study, and a supervisory committee in place no later than their second term of study. Students who do not meet this deadline will be unable to register unless the supervisor and/or supervisory committee has been approved. Students must fill in the Faculty of Graduate Studies Supervisory Committee Approval form and submit it to the program office to in order for their supervisor and committee to be formally approved.

The York Sociology Graduate Association, with help from the program members, has developed some guidelines (.pdf) to assist you in both choosing and meeting potential committee members.

Thesis Proposal

The thesis proposal must be approved by the supervisory committee, and the Faculty of Graduate Studies. At least three months before the thesis defense, the following must be submitted to the graduate program office:

(i) Thesis Proposal Form (TD1)
(ii) FGS Human Participants Research Form (TD2)
(iii) Appendix B: Informed Consent Checklist for Researchers (TD3)
(iv) Appendix F: Statement of Relationship Between Proposal and an Existing HPRC-Approved Project (TD4), if necessary
(v) TCPS Tutorial Certificate
(vi) Informed Consent Document
(vii) One hard copy of the proposal

Thesis

Once the thesis proposal and ethics have been approved, students are expected to carry out their research project and report the results in appropriate thesis form. The thesis should demonstrate originality and understanding of the topic.

Thesis Defense

Students must pass an oral examination on the subject of the thesis and related questions. When the thesis is judged examinable by the supervisory committee, a thesis defense must be set up by the supervisory committee.  At least 25 business days prior to the oral exam date, all paperwork for the defense must be deposited in the program office. The paperwork includes:

(i) A "recommendation for oral examination" form signed by your committee members, or with e-mails attached confirming that your thesis is defendable.  The form must also include the title of your thesis, the confirmed date and time of the defense, as well as the names of all examining committee members.  Once deposited in the graduate program office, students will be unable to change the title of their thesis.  The examining committee consists of:

  • two graduate faculty members chosen from the program and/or supervisory committee, at least one of whom must be from the supervisory committee
  • one graduate faculty member at arm's length from the thesis, and normally from outside the program

(ii) One hard copy of the thesis, without the acknowledgement section.  This copy will be distributed by the program office to the arm's length examiner.  The student is responsible for providing each of their supervisory committee members with a hard copy.  Members of CUPE 3903 - Unit 1, past and present, are eligible for up to a $300 refund for photocopying costs.  Please keep all photocopy receipts and submit them to Faculty of Graduate Studies after the defense.

(iii) A pdf of your thesis, without the acknowledgement section.

(iv) Apply to graduate through the convocation website.

There are important deadlines to be observed if you intend to graduate in February, June or October. THEY WILL NOT BE WAIVED.

Theses written by former students may be consulted, but not removed from the Common Room (2101 Vari Hall).

After the Thesis Defense

The thesis oral examination requirement is met if one of the following situations exists:

(i) if the committee accepts the thesis with no revisions; or

(ii) if the committee accepts the thesis with specific revisions

If revisions are required, these must be completed and approved by both the supervisor and the chair of the examining committee.  Once approved, your supervisor and the chair must fill out a "revisions approved memorandum" form confirming that the revisions have been completed, or they may each send an e-mail to the Thesis Coordinator confirming the same.

Once the Thesis Coordinator has confirmed that your submission has been approved, she will send you an invitation to complete an Electronic Thesis record and upload your thesis as a PDF along with any supplementary files you may have.  Be sure that you have followed the proper thesis formatting guidelines prior to uploading your document.  The Thesis Coordinator will review, approve or return your document(s) if there are any problems (e.g. formatting).  Please note that it takes 24 hours from the time in which the the Thesis Coordinator sends you an invitation for you to be able to access the portal to upload your Thesis.

When the Thesis Coordinator has confirmed that they've approved your submission, they'll send confirmation of this to the program office.  The date on which the Thesis Coordinator confirms approval of your document is the date on which your MA is officially completed.  Students must remain registered in the program until this confirmation is received.

The program office will then process your name for convocation.

Approximately two months prior to the convocation ceremony, you should visit the convocation website and RSVP for the ceremony.  Their website will also inform you about all facets of convocation.

Upon conferral of your degree, your thesis will be deposited in the Institutional Repository (YorkSpace) and will be available for harvest by Library and Archives Canada.

Research Review Paper Option

The research review paper is an in–depth critical analysis and synthesis of sociological research literature, focused on developing an answer to a question that the proposal poses.  It can involve a critical synthesis of a sociological field.  The student is expected to demonstrate knowledge of the major theoretical, methodological, and substantive findings in the field.  By critical synthesis, we mean an imaginative review of the literature, where students provide their own substantive framework in evaluating a body of sociological work.

An RRP can also focus on a sociological issue/problem and explore how different theories explain it.  This typically involves some comparing and contrasting and also some evaluation (which theory seems the best).

This paper should be roughly 40–50 pages in length and demonstrate independent work. (Note: it is not meant as a 'mini–thesis' and, therefore, it will not involve a research design or collection of primary data.) It should normally take the equivalent of three months of full–time work to write.

Course Requirements

Completion of three full courses or the equivalent, including SOCI 5901 3.0 (Key Debates in Sociological Theory) and a 3.0 credit course in sociological methods. Courses which meet the methods requirement are: 6060, 6086, 6090, 6095, 6096, 6112, 6120, 6121, 6150. As the program is only able to offer a select number of methods courses during any academic year, not all of the courses which meet the methods requirement will be available for you to enrol.

The Workshop Requirement

The program organizes a weekly three–hour workshop in the fall (.pdf) and winter (.pdf) terms for graduate students. The workshops take place on Mondays at 11:30 in the Sociology Common Room (2101 Vari Hall). The purpose of the series is to provide students with an orientation to sociology, particularly focusing on the way the discipline is conceptualized and practiced in our program and in the field. A range of intellectual and professional sessions are offered over the course of the year. While some sessions are specifically designed for MA students and others for PhD students, workshops have the same objectives for all students: to showcase faculty and student research, to provide a forum for intellectual exchange, to promote a strong sense of collegiality and engender a sense of community among members of the program. Attendance is required at a minimum of twelve 3-hour weekly workshop sessions, normally within the first year of study. Ideally, this requirement should be met within the first year of study since it is structured to help students move through the program. While this is the formal requirement, students are encouraged to attend all research-related workshops offered by the program.

Please note that there are no workshops offered in the summer term.

Supervisory Committee

At the core of a student's program is the formation of a two-person graduate faculty supervisory committee. This committee is a way to establish and maintain close contact with faculty members who share similar orientation and interests. While the committee is particularly important when working on the research review paper, if it is in place early enough, the members can also act as academic advisors. Within the general parameters of program requirements, the supervisory committee is largely responsible for advising students on a course of study appropriate to their interests, assessing their work and progress, and for professional mentoring.

The specific composition of the supervisory committee is in the student's own hands, subject to the Director's approval and general Faculty of Graduate Studies regulations which specify the categories of membership which must be filled. Briefly stated:

MA supervisory committees MUST consist of a minimum of two members from the Faculty of Graduate Studies, one of whom must be from sociology and will serve as the principal supervisor. In exceptional circumstances, one additional member, who does not have an appointment to the Faculty of Graduate Studies MAY be included, but this requires prior approval by the Dean.

Faculty of Graduate Studies regulations state that MA students must have a supervisor in place by the end of their first term of study, and a supervisory committee in place no later than their second term of study. Students who do not meet this deadline will be unable to register unless the supervisor and/or supervisory committee has been approved. Students must fill in the Faculty of Graduate Studies Supervisory Committee Approval form and submit it to the program office to in order for their supervisor and committee to be formally approved.

The York Sociology Graduate Association, with help from the program members, has developed some guidelines (.pdf) to assist you in both choosing and meeting potential committee members.

Research Review Paper Proposal

The research review paper proposal must be approved by the supervisory committee  at least three months before the RRP defense.

Please submit the following to the graduate program office:

(i) Research Review Paper Proposal Approval Form (.pdf)
(ii) Hard copy of the proposal

Research Review Paper

The paper should be roughly 40-50 pages in length and demonstrate independent work. It should normally take the equivalent of three months full–time work to write.

Oral Examination

This is likely to be less formal than a thesis oral, since it involves only the members of the supervisory committee and the student. The committee may waive the oral examination, however, this should only be done under exceptional circumstances.

Once the research review paper has been approved by your supervisory committee, please work with your committee in setting a date for the oral exam.  After the oral exam, please submit the following to the graduate program office:

(i) RRP Examination Approval Form (.pdf)
(ii) Hard copy of the Research Review Paper

If your committee decides not to have an oral exam, please have your supervisory committee sign the "RRP examination approval form (.pdf)", or attach email approvals from each member, and return it to the program office with a copy of the paper.

Students are required to be registered and pay fees until the paperwork and RRP are submitted to the program office.  Only then will the MA degree be considered completed.

There are important deadlines to be observed if you intend to graduate in February, June or October. THEY WILL NOT BE WAIVED.

Research review papers written by former students may be consulted, but not borrowed from the Sociology Common Room (2101 Vari Hall).

MA Handbook

The MA Handbook (.pdf) will provide you with program information that will assist you as you go through the program.  In the booklet, you'll find information on both program and Faculty of Graduate Studies regulations, but know that the staff and the Graduate Program Director are on hand to help you should anything be unclear, or if you need assistance with something that's not included in the booklet.  Our doors are always open.

Candidates for the PhD degree must fulfil the following requirements:  (i) program workshop; (ii) course work; (iii) comprehensives; (iv) dissertation proposal; (v) dissertation,

The Workshop Requirement

The program organizes a weekly three–hour workshop in the fall (.pdf) and winter (.pdf) terms for graduate students. The workshops take place on Mondays at 11:30 in the Sociology Common Room (2101 Vari Hall). The purpose of the series is to provide students with an orientation to sociology, particularly focusing on the way the discipline is conceptualized and practiced in our program and in the field. A range of intellectual and professional sessions are offered over the course of the year. While some sessions are specifically designed for MA students and others for PhD students, workshops have the same objectives for all students: to showcase faculty and student research, to provide a forum for intellectual exchange, to promote a strong sense of collegiality and engender a sense of community among members of the program.

Attendance is required at a minimum of twelve 3–hour weekly workshop sessions, normally within the first year of study. Ideally, this requirement should be met within the first year of study since it is structured to help students move through the program. While this is the formal requirement, students are encouraged to attend all research–related workshops offered by the program.

Please note that there are no workshops scheduled in the summer term.

Course Requirements

Four full courses, or the equivalent, including a full course in theory and a full course in methods.

Courses which meet the theory requirement are: 6130; 6132; 6133; 6160; 6170; 6180; 6190; 6192; 6195; 6196; 6197; 6200, 6201; 6202; 6810; 6894.

Courses which meet the methods requirement are: 6060; 6086; 6090; 6095;  6096; 6112; 6120; 6121; 6150.

The program is only able to offer a select number of theory and methods courses during any academic year. As a result, not all of the courses which meet the theory and methods requirements will be available for you to enrol.

The Director may determine whether the methods and theory requirements have been met elsewhere.  In these cases, students are still required to complete four full courses, or the equivalent, however, they can replace our theory and methods requirements with elective courses.

All courses are chosen from those offered at the 6000-level. With the Director's permission students may take the equivalent of one full reading course (Sociology 6900)(.pdf) and/or the equivalent of one full course in another graduate program.

Supervisory Committee

At the core of a student’s program is the formation of a three–person graduate faculty supervisory committee. This committee is a way to establish and maintain close contact with faculty members who share similar orientation and interests. While the committee is particularly important when working on the dissertation, if it is in place early enough, the members can also act as academic advisors. Within the general parameters of program requirements, the supervisory committee is largely responsible for advising students on a course of study appropriate to their interests, assessing their work and progress, and for professional mentoring.

The specific composition of the supervisory committee is in the student’s own hands, subject to the Director's approval and general Faculty of Graduate Studies regulations which specify the categories of membership which must be filled. Briefly stated:

The PhD supervisory committee MUST consist of a minimum of three members from the Faculty of Graduate Studies, at least two of whom must be from sociology. The principal supervisor must be from sociology. In exceptional circumstances, the third, or an additional, member who does not have an appointment to the Faculty of Graduate Studies may be included, but this requires prior approval by the Dean.

Faculty of Graduate Studies regulations state  that PhD students must have a supervisor in place no later than their fifth term of study. Doctoral supervisory committees must be formed no later than the student’s eighth term of study. Students who do not meet these deadlines will be unable to register unless the supervisor and/or supervisory committee has been approved.

Students must submit a completed supervisor and supervisory committee approval form to the program office in order for their supervisor and supervisory committee to be formally approved.

The York Sociology Graduate Association, with help from the program members, has developed some guidelines (.pdf) to assist you in both choosing and meeting potential committee members.

Comprehensive Requirements - for those entering the program prior to September 2017

In addition to coursework, students must demonstrate comprehensive knowledge in two fields:

Goals

The comprehensives are intended to prepare the student for the dissertation, to do research and to teach in a field. Outside the structure of a course, the comprehensive provides the student with the challenge of examining and synthesizing a body of theory, and usually related empirical research. Comprehensiveness in a field combines breadth, depth and synthetic ability, without necessarily entailing exhaustive knowledge of the field. Students are expected to have a broad understanding of the major theoretical perspectives in the field and key debates. In most fields, comprehensiveness also requires a good knowledge of the alternative approaches to relevant empirical research, key findings and their interpretation in relation to theoretical approaches, and gaps in current research.

It is the responsibility of the program to provide a list of the program's pre–approved comprehensive fields (.pdf), updated annually, and the names of available faculty with expertise in each field. Students must have a comprehensive pre-approval form (.pdf) on file, before the comprehensive can be signed off by the program. With the approval of the student’s faculty group or comprehensive committee and the Graduate Program Director, comprehensives may be written in fields other than those designated. Any such additional field, however, must have the same degree of generality as the designated fields. A more specialized area is better explored as part of the student’s dissertation or other research. Students usually choose comprehensive fields that are relevant to their dissertations and/or to the fields in which they expect to teach, but this is not a requirement.

Scheduling and Relationship to the Dissertation

The student will complete the comprehensive requirements by his or her eighth or ninth term of study in the doctoral program, that is, during the third year of registration. Students are required to complete the comprehensive requirements before the dissertation proposal is approved. The comprehensives can play an important role in defining the dissertation project and some students may choose their comprehensive fields partially in order to prepare broadly for background in a field related to the dissertation, but the comprehensives should not be seen as the beginning or a direct part of the dissertation.

Faculty Supervision

The student will form a three-person comprehensive committee for each or both of the comprehensive fields, which may or may not become their dissertation committee. Like the dissertation supervisory committee, the comprehensive committee consists of:

a minimum of three members from the Faculty of Graduate Studies, at least two of whom must be from sociology. The principal supervisor must be from sociology. At least one member must have declared themselves an expert in the comprehensive field being examined (see list of pre–approved comprehensive fields) (.pdf).

Preparing the Reading List

The student and the comprehensive committee will jointly decide on a reading list for each comprehensive; for comprehensive groups this will be done collectively, but will still require student–faculty agreement. The list will be equivalent to about 25 medium–sized books, with articles counting for about one–fifth of a book. Students are encouraged to make use of reading lists from completed comprehensives in the program office. Lists of core readings (.pdf) have been developed in 29 areas, with others in the works. These will be updated regularly. Students might take 15–20 readings from the core list and add 5–10 to reflect their particular interests, or find a balance that suits them and is acceptable to the faculty group or committee supporting and assessing the comprehensive.

Comprehensive Format

In each field, a student must demonstrate competence through written work followed by oral discussion. The written work can take three forms:

  1. Outline of an advanced undergraduate course in the field chosen, to include: a detailed academic rationale for the organization of a course providing broad coverage of the field; a rationale for the particular selection of topics; and a list of twenty-five two-hour lecture sessions, with readings to accompany each session; and the full text of a final lecture that identifies broad strengths of the field, major gaps in theoretical work and empirical research, as well as describing important issues the course could not address. This exercise provides opportunities to discuss how such a course would provide advanced undergraduates with a broad knowledge of the current state of the field, to show how the instructor would integrate major debates, to locate key empirical findings in relation to theoretical approaches, and to address gaps in current knowledge. The written lecture will be approximately 25 – 30 pages.
  2. A review of research in the comprehensive field. The paper (approximately 40 pages) must demonstrate an understanding of the major theoretical approaches and findings of the important bodies of empirical research, perhaps including comments on alternative methodological approaches. The paper should identify critical current debates in the field and identify significant theoretical and research gaps in the literature. This review is not an opportunity to explore specialized theory or empirical research.
  3. A take–home exam. The exam, consisting of two questions, shall be designed to elicit responses that reflect an understanding of the major theoretical approaches and the findings of the important bodies of empirical research as they pertain to the comprehensive field. Exams will be held three times per year: in September, January and May, within a two–week period announced by the program office.  Students should be aware of the take-home exam deadlines as these will not be waived.  (.pdf) Three months before the proposed exam date, students will submit to the program office: a reading list; a 300–500–word rationale for the list; and 3–5 exam questions, all of which will be developed by the student in consultation with their supervisor and committee members. For the exam, the committee will develop two questions, based on the issues covered by the questions developed in conjunction with the students; these two questions may be from amongst the three to five questions submitted earlier. The supervisor will send the two exam questions to the student by e–mail and cc the program office. Students will respond to these questions in 3000–4000 words, each, over the course of one week (seven days). Students must inform the program office of the seven–day period in which they will be writing the exam. When students submit their responses to their comp committee, they are also required to send their responses to the program office at this same time. The committee will assess the responses, hold an oral discussion, and make an evaluation, normally within one month of receiving the responses to the written portion of the exam. (If, due to extenuating circumstances, such as extended illness, a student is unable to take the exam during the scheduled period, the program will assist in making alternative arrangements as needed).

Option 1 may be used for completing ONLY one of the two comprehensives

Evaluation of the Comprehensives

It is the responsibility of the student’s faculty group or comprehensive committee to organize the evaluation of the student’s work. In each field, a student must demonstrate competence through her or his written work. Assessment of the written work is to be completed in the context of an oral discussion of the field between the student and her or his entire faculty group and/or comprehensive committee. This will include a presentation by the student, followed by questions. The assessment of the group/committee will be that the student has passed or failed. A field requirement is considered passed if no more than one member of this group/committee casts a negative vote.

The process is constructed to be both evaluative and educative. In the case of an assessment of “Fail,” one of the committee members (typically, the supervisor) will provide the student with feedback and guidance (concerning revisions, preparation for the take–home exam, or preparation for the oral discussion, as appropriate), directed to enable the successful completion of the comprehensive. In the case of Option 1 and Option 2, the student should aim to be re–examined in the field, by the original committee members, within three months of the first attempt. In the case of Option 3, the student should be re–examined, by the original committee members, at the next scheduled exam date. In principle, the reexamination should be based on the original list of 3–5 questions, though the reexamination questions must be new. Regardless of the option selected for completing a comprehensive, two failures will require the student’s withdrawal from the program.

When the student has passed the oral exam, they must submit  the following to the graduate program office:

(i) Comprehensive Exam Approval Form (.pdf)
(ii)  Hard copy of the comprehensive

Comprehensive Requirements - for those entering the program as of September 2017

In addition to coursework, students must demonstrate comprehensive knowledge in two fields.

Goals

The comprehensive exams mark the divide between course work and the dissertation. The student is expected to demonstrate a broad and synthetic knowledge of the comprehensive area, including the major theoretical approaches and, in substantive areas, the broad findings of empirical research, their limitations and new directions. However, comprehensive knowledge is not the same as the exhaustive knowledge of a specialist in a field. A student’s comprehensives can help define the dissertation project, by providing broad background, but they should not be conceived as a part of the dissertation, which is necessarily much more specialized. Students have three options for completing their comprehensive requirements that are described in detail below. The program’s comprehensive areas are major fields of sociology in which there is faculty expertise and regular graduate teaching. The program maintains a list of the comprehensive areas, along with the names of available faculty in each area.

Because it is not sensible to codify every aspect of the exams in formal requirements, the program office maintains a “tip sheet” to help facilitate the process.

Logistics

Each comprehensive is guided and examined by a three-person committee, all of whom must hold an appointment in Faculty of Graduate Studies.  At least two of the committee members, including the supervisor/chair of the comprehensive committee,  must be appointed to the Graduate Program in Sociology with at least one of these members having declared themselves an expert in the comprehensive field being examined (see list of pre–approved comprehensive fields) (.pdf). Although it is not a requirement, the program encourages overlap in the faculty membership on students’ two comprehensive exam committees and their dissertation committee. Each comprehensive exam is to be completed in one term, aligned with the fall, winter or summer terms of the academic calendar. Due dates for different aspects of the comprehensive requirements will be available annually and must be followed. The due dates do not preclude the student and committee agreeing on a shorter time frame. Normally, the student’s first comprehensive will be in her fourth term of study and both comprehensive requirements should be completed no later than the sixth term of full-time study. The comprehensive requirements must be completed before the dissertation proposal is approved. To ensure timely completion, students should organize the comprehensive committee for their first exam about two months prior to the end of their last course (see the tip sheet for more suggestions).

Timetable

The dates in the table below are final deadlines. The committee, in consultation with the student, has the flexibility to make arrangements for earlier submission of the written work and examination.

Term I
Fall 2017
Term II
Winter 2018
Term III
Summer 2017
Paper Option
Term Start*Sept. 1Jan. 1May 1
Last Date for List of Readings & “Form” Specifying Comp Committee submitted to Program OfficeSept. 15Jan. 16May 15
Last Date to Submit Written Work **Dec. 5Apr. 5Aug. 5
Last Date for Oral & Adjudication ***Dec. 19Apr. 19Aug. 19
Last Date for Specified RevisionsJan. 2Apr. 30Aug. 31
Course Outline Option
Term Start *Sept. 1Jan. 1May 1
Last Date for List of Readings & “Form” Specifying Comp Committee submitted to Program OfficeSept. 15Jan. 16May 15
Last Date to Submit Written Work **Dec. 5April 5Aug. 5
Last Date for Oral & Adjudication ***Dec. 19Apr. 19Aug. 19
Last Date for Specified RevisionsJan. 2Apr. 30Aug. 31
Take–home Exam Option
Term Start *Sept. 1Jan. 1May 1
Last Date to Submit List of Readings, Rationale & “Form” Specifying Comp Committee submitted to Program OfficeSept. 15Jan. 16May 15
List of Potential Questions to be received by CommitteeSept. 15Jan. 16May 15
Last Date for Take-Home Exam questions to be received by studentNov. 28Mar. 29July 29
Last Date to Submit Written Answers (based on 7 days to write) Dec. 5Apr. 5Aug. 5
Last Date for Oral & Adjudication ***Dec. 19Apr. 19Aug. 19

Options and Content

There are three distinct routes students can take to complete a comprehensive requirement: (1) completing a paper; (2) designing a course outline accompanied by the final lecture; and (3) a take-home exam to be completed over a seven-day period. Option 2 (course outline and lecture) can ONLY be used for completing one of the comprehensives. All three options follow the same timeline and all require the preparation of, and committee agreement with, a reading list equivalent to about 25 medium-sized books, with articles counting for about one-fifth of a book. Normally, the readings will consist mainly of foundational works in the area and broad contemporary scholarship. Up to one-quarter of the readings may be a more specialized area of particular interest to the student. To assist with the preparation of the reading list, the program office maintains reading lists from previous exams. The committee evaluates the written work and meets to examine the student in an oral discussion. Usually, the student will make a brief presentation, to be followed by questions from the committee. The committee’s evaluation of the comprehensive exam includes both the written component and the oral discussion.

Paper Option

The written comprehensive paper option is intended to be a review of the research in the comprehensive area you have chosen. The paper (7,500 to 10,000 words, excluding references) must demonstrate a broad, comprehensive understanding of the area, provide an accurate synthesis of key debates, and include a critical assessment of these debates. Consider questions such as the following in the paper (these will also be helpful in guiding your reading):

· How do you define the area and what are the problems/issues addressed by the area?

· What is the intellectual context/climate of the area? Has there been a major paradigm shift in the area? What is the general current direction of the area?

· What are the main themes, debates, or issues expressed in the literature?

· How do different theoretical and/or methodological approaches in the area take up these themes, debates or issues?

· For more empirically-based areas: What are the major findings? What is your assessment of empirical knowledge in the area? What empirical research would move the area forward?

· How do you position yourself in relation to the intellectual debates in the area and why?

· What are the current limitations/gaps of the area?

Course Outline and Final Lecture Option

NOTE: This option may be used to complete only one of the two comprehensives.

This option for completing the comprehensive requirement entails the preparation of a course outline and a final lecture. The course should be pitched to the third or fourth year undergraduate level. The course outline must include

· a detailed academic rationale for the organization of the course, providing broad coverage of the area;

· specific topics for 24 two-hour lectures – including lecture topic titles and 3 to 5 bulletin points on each topic indicating the main objectives or themes of the lecture;

· a rationale for the selection of topics;

· readings to accompany each session, typically 2 to 4 essays or book chapters. Often, the challenge is finding insightful readings accessible to undergraduates.

In addition, the student writes a final lecture (approximately 8000 words in length) that identifies the broad character and development of the area, major theoretical approaches, empirical findings where appropriate, and directions the area can take to advance theoretically and empirically. It is appropriate for the student to express her judgments, but the main emphasis is on demonstrating comprehensive knowledge of the area. The lecture should be pitched to undergraduates and is not the same as the advanced synthesis expected for the paper option.

A unique challenge of this option is to convey comprehensive knowledge at a level appropriate to advanced undergraduate students, without oversimplifying the ideas or findings. The readings and lecture topics should be appropriate for undergraduates, and there too the concern is to provide deep and insightful readings that are also accessible to students at that level.

Preparing a course outline provides an opportunity to think through comprehensiveness in a pedagogical context. This could be useful in preparing the student to teach in the area. In addition to the requirements above, designing a university course usually involves additional materials, such as topics for tutorial sessions and assignments. With the agreement of her committee, these may be included in the comprehensive, but they are not required.

Take-Home Exam Option

The take-home exam is comprised of two questions. Students will respond to these questions in 3000-4000 words, each, over the course of one week (7 days). The questions will be designed to elicit responses that reflect an understanding of the major debates in the area and provide the student with an opportunity to demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of the area.

By the specified deadline, students will submit to the program office: a reading list; a 300-500-word rationale for the list; and 3-5 exam questions, all of which will be developed by the student in consultation with their comprehensive supervisor and committee members. As with the paper option outlined above, here too students are encouraged to consider questions such as the following:

· How do you define the area and what are the problems/issues addressed by the area?

· What is the intellectual context/climate of the area? Has there been a major paradigm shift in the area? What is the general current direction of the area?

· What are the main themes, debates, or issues expressed in the literature?

· How do different theoretical and/or methodological approaches in the area take up these themes, debates or issues?

· For more empirically-based areas: What are the major findings? What is your assessment of empirical knowledge in the area? What empirical research would move the area forward?

· How do you position yourself in relation to the intellectual debates in the area and why?

· What are the current limitations/gaps of the area?

For the exam, the committee will assign two questions, based on the issues covered by the questions developed in conjunction with the student.  The committee will assess the responses, hold an oral discussion, and make an evaluation by the advertised deadline.

Evaluation of the Comprehensives

It is the responsibility of the student’s comprehensive exam committee to organize the evaluation of the student’s work. In each area, a student must demonstrate competence through her written work. Assessment of the written work is to be completed in the context of an oral discussion of the area between the student and her entire comprehensive exam committee. This will include a presentation by the student, followed by questions.

For the paper option and the course outline and final lecture option, the committee’s decision will be either: “pass”; “pass with the submission of acceptable revisions” (to be submitted within 10 days of the exam) or “fail”. As well as being feasible within the 10 days, the committee must be able to specify the revisions in a small number of points. Decisions of the committee are by majority vote. In the case of failure, the committee supervisor will provide the student with feedback and guidance. The student should aim to be re-examined in the area, by the original committee members, in the next academic term.

For the take-home exam option, the decision will be either “pass” or “fail”. In the case of failure for the take-home exam option, the student should be re-examined, by the original committee members, at the next scheduled exam date. The reexamination should be based on the original list of 3-5 questions.

An area requirement is considered passed if no more than one member of the committee casts a negative vote. Two failures on the same exam will require the student to withdraw from the Program.

When the student has passed the oral exam, they must submit  the following to the graduate program office:

(i) Comprehensive Exam Approval Form (.pdf)
(ii)  Hard copy of the comprehensive

The Appeals Process

An appeal can be made on the basis of serious medical or compassionate reasons. The appeal must be submitted electronically to the Program Office and cc’d to the student’s comprehensive exam committee, within 3 working days of the missed comprehensive exam deadline [to submit written work] and must include a written rationale for not meeting the deadline and a revised date for completion. The appeal will be heard by the Graduate Program Awards and Appeals Committee and a decision will be rendered within one week of receipt of the appeal. The granting of an appeal does not affect already established deadlines for subsequent comprehensive exams.

Unless an appeal has been granted, a comprehensive exam will be deemed as “fail” if the oral exam is not successfully completed within the required time period – that is, by the “Last Date for Oral and Adjudication”.”

Dissertation Proposal

Students must develop an acceptable dissertation proposal. When this has been approved by the supervisory committee, the following must be submitted to the graduate program office:

(i) Dissertation Proposal Form (TD1)
(ii) FGS Human Participants Research Form (TD2)
(iii) Appendix B: Informed Consent Checklist for Researchers (TD3)
(iv) Appendix F: Statement of Relationship Between Proposal and an Existing HPRC-Approved Project (TD4), if necessary
(v)TCPS Tutorial Certificate
(vi) Informed Consent Document
(vii) Hard copy of the proposal

Dissertation proposals must be approved by Faculty of Graduate Studies at least six months prior to the defense date.

Proposals written by former students may be consulted, but not borrowed, in the program office.

Dissertation

Carry out research project and report the results in appropriate dissertation format (gradstudies.yorku.ca/current-students/thesis-dissertation/).

The Oral Examination

Students must pass an oral examination on the subject of the dissertation and related questions. When the dissertation is judged examinable by the supervisory committee, a dissertation defense must be set up by the supervisory committee. At least 25 business days prior to the oral exam date, all paperwork for the defense must be deposited in the program office. The paperwork includes:

(i) A "recommendation for oral examination" form signed by your committee members, or with e-mails attached confirming that your dissertation  is defendable. The form must also include the title of your dissertation, the confirmed date and time of the defense, as well as the names of all examining committee members. Once deposited in the graduate program office, students will be unable to change the title of their dissertation. The examining committee consists of:

  1. The Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies or her/his representative, who will be at arm's length from the supervision of the dissertation, and who will serve as Chair of the examining committee;
  2. One external examiner, from outside York University, at arm's length from the dissertation;
  3. One graduate faculty member at arm's length from the dissertation, and noramlly from outside the Program;
  4. Two graduate faculty members from the supervisory committee, or one member from the supervisory committee and one graduate faculty member from the program.

(ii) Three hard copies of the dissertation, without the acknowledgement section. These copies will be distributed by the program office to the arm's length examiner, the external examiner and the dean's representative. The student is responsible for providing each of their supervisory committee members with a hard copy. Members of CUPE 3903 - Unit 1, past and present, are eligible for up to a $400 refund for photocopying costs. Please keep all photocopy receipts and submit them to Faculty of Graduate Studies after the defense.

(iii) Your CV

(iv) External examiner's pre-approval form (.pdf); this form is required if the external examiner's incurred expenses will exceed $350; prior-approval from the Faculty of Graduate Studies is required before an invitation can be extended to the external examiner.

v) A pdf of your thesis, without the acknowledgement section.

(vi) Apply to graduate through the convocation website.

There are important deadlines to be observed if you intend to graduate in February, June or October. THEY WILL NOT BE WAIVED.

Dissertations written by former students may be consulted, but not removed from the Common Room (2101 Vari Hall).

After the Dissertation Defense

The dissertation oral examination requirement is met if one of the following situations exists:

(i) if the committee accepts the dissertation with no revisions; or

(ii) if the committee accepts the dissertation with specific revisions

If revisions are required, these must be completed and approved by both the supervisor and the chair of the examining committee. Once approved, your supervisor and the chair must fill out a "revisions approved memorandum" form confirming that the revisions have been completed, or they may each send an e-mail to the Thesis Coordinator confirming the same.

Once the Thesis Coordinator has received confirmation of your approved revisions, she'll send you an invitation to complete an Electronic Thesis record and upload your dissertation as a PDF along with any supplementary files you may have. Be sure that you have followed the proper dissertation formatting guidelines prior to uploading your document. The Thesis Coordinator will review, approve or return your document(s) if there any problems (e.g. formatting). Please note that it takes twenty-four  hours from the time in which the the Thesis Coordinator sends you an invitation for you to be able to access the portal to upload your Thesis.

When the Thesis Coordinator has confirmed that they've approved your submission, they'll send confirmation of this to the graduate program office. The date on which the Thesis Coordinator confirms approval of your document is the date on which your PhD is officially completed. Students must remain registered in the program until this confirmation is received.

The graduate program office will then process your name for convocation.

Approximately two months prior to the convocation ceremony, you should visit the convocation website and RSVP for the ceremony. Their website will also inform you about all facets of convocation.

Upon conferral of your degree, your dissertation will be deposited in the Institutional Repository (YorkSpace) and will be available for harvest by Library and Archives Canada.

Language and Cognate Requirement

Depending on the candidate’s qualifications and intended research, demonstrated competency in a foreign language and/or demonstrated competency in a technical skill, such as statistics, may be required at the discretion of a student’s supervisory committee.

PhD Handbook

The PhD Handbook (.pdf) will provide you with program information that will assist you as you go through the program.  In the booklet, you'll find information on both program and Faculty of Graduate Studies regulations, but know that the staff and the Graduate Program Director are on hand to help you should anything be unclear, or if you need assistance with something that's not included in the booklet.  Our doors are always open.