MA

photo of a Master's student in a workshop

The MA, offered on a full– and part–time basis, is a research degree that emphasizes the attainment of a basic capacity for critical research, analysis, and academic writing. Graduates are capable of taking up social science research in both public and private sector positions or of gaining admission to the best professional and doctoral programs in Canada and abroad. Although the majority of our MA candidates plan to pursue doctoral degrees, others are interested in upgrading professional skills or working in research and public service agencies.

Please note that completion of the MA does not guarantee admission to our doctoral program. Applications from internal MA candidates are reviewed by the program's admissions committee in the context of all other applications, and using standards that apply to all PhD applications. As with all applicants, internal MA applicants must apply directly to the admissions office. There is no internal application process.

Duration of the MA

Officially the MA program is a one-year program. However, students have up to four years to complete all requirements for the MA degree. Students are allowed a maximum of one year, or three terms of full-time study at the MA level, after which they must register part-time. During this period, continuous registration must be maintained. The time limit is the same whether one is registered full- or part-time. The time for completion will be shorter for students who are able to study throughout the summer, and who choose a clear and viable topic early.

Students who begin the program on a full time basis, must register part-time if a second, third or fourth year of study is required. Petitions to remain full-time will only be granted if the student has extenuating circumstances. Petition forms are available online on the Faculty of Graduate Studies website.

Degree Requirements

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 empirically-based research paper.  Empirical is construed broadly 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 received confirmation of your approved revisions, 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 your submission has been approved, she will 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 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).

Advancement from MA to PhD

Internal MA students must apply to the PhD in the same manner as all other external applicants.  As is the case with all external applications, internal applications will be reviewed by the program's admissions committee in the context of all other applications, and using standards that apply to all candidates to the program.  Please note that advancement to our PhD program is NOT assured by completion of the MA.