Program Title
Sociology (MA)
Degree Type
MA - Master of Arts
Program Overview

Coterminal Master of Arts in Sociology

Stanford undergraduates, regardless of undergraduate major, who wish to pursue an M.A. in Sociology may apply for the coterminal master’s program. The coterminal M.A. in Sociology is a flexible, self-designed program. It is possible for students to complete their B.A. and Sociology coterminal M.A. in the fourth year; historically, most students have completed a Sociology M.A. during their fifth year at Stanford.

Application and Admission

To apply for a coterm degree, undergraduates must meet eligibility requirements set by both the Registrar's Office and the Sociology department. General requirements for coterm applications include completion of at least 120 units and six non-summer quarters at Stanford. A cumulative GPA of at least 3.5 in previous undergraduate work is required for admission. It is also highly recommended that applicants have completed at least one Sociology course at the 100 level with a grade of ‘B’ or better.

The department accepts applications once a year; the application deadline is February 4, 2022 for Spring Quarter enrollment. There are no exceptions to this deadline. All application materials are submitted online. The GRE is not required for a Sociology master's program application.

The department does not fund coterminal M.A. students. To learn more about graduate financial assistance, please visit the Stanford Financial Aid Office.

To apply for admission to the Sociology coterminal M.A. program, students must submit the following:

  1. The Application for Admission to Coterminal Master's Program available online in mid-September;

  2. Statement of purpose: limited to 2 pages, double-spaced. Applicants should outline reasons for pursuing the M.A. in Sociology, including career aspirations, plans for additional advanced degrees, or other aspects of their academic experiences that may aid the admissions committee in evaluating their motivation for graduate study. Students interested in a research-intensive curriculum should also describe their specific research interests and plans to complete an original research project, a research apprenticeship with Sociology faculty, or both.

  3. Preliminary Program Proposal for Master’s Degree: this form should be uploaded to the online application. At least 45 units of coursework relevant to the degree program must be specified. Example proposals for the 2021-22 academic year appear under the "degree requirements" section;

  4. Undergraduate Coterm Application Approval form: available under "Student eForms" in Axess;

  5. Current unofficial undergraduate transcript;

  6. Two letters of recommendation from Stanford faculty familiar with the student’s academic work. Additional letters from teaching assistants, employers, or other individuals are accepted as supplemental materials but are not required. Letters from Sociology faculty or department affiliates are highly recommended, especially for students with GPAs at or near the minimum requirement.

University Coterminal Requirements

Coterminal master’s degree candidates are expected to complete all master’s degree requirements as described in this bulletin. University requirements for the coterminal master’s degree are described in the “Coterminal Master's Degrees” section. University requirements for the master’s degree are described in the "Graduate Degrees" section of this bulletin.

After accepting admission to this coterminal master’s degree program, students may request transfer of courses from the undergraduate to the graduate career to satisfy requirements for the master’s degree. Transfer of courses to the graduate career requires review and approval of both the undergraduate and graduate programs on a case by case basis.

In this master’s program, courses taken three quarters prior to the first graduate quarter, or later, are eligible for consideration for transfer to the graduate career. No courses taken prior to the first quarter of the sophomore year may be used to meet master’s degree requirements.

Course transfers are not possible after the bachelor’s degree has been conferred.

The University requires that the graduate advisor be assigned in the student’s first graduate quarter even though the undergraduate career may still be open. The University also requires that the Master’s Degree Program Proposal be completed by the student and approved by the department by the end of the student’s first graduate quarter.

Master of Arts in Sociology for Current Stanford Graduate Students

The M.A. degree in Sociology is available to current Ph.D. candidates in Sociology and to students in advanced degree programs (Ph.D., J.D., M.D.) from other Stanford departments and schools.

Students who wish to engage in more in-depth study on a specific topic may do so by focusing on coursework within an area of study, such as Poverty and Inequality, Social Psychology, Organizations and the Economy, or Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration.

Although formal application to the M.A. program is not required, applicants from outside of the Sociology department must submit:

  1. Graduate Authorization Petition form, available electronically through Axess;

  2. Program Proposal for an M.A. form available for download from the registrar's office website, submitted to Sociology Graduate Student Services Manager;

  3. Short statement of purpose; 1 page double-spaced, submitted to Sociology Graduate Student Services Manager.

Sociology Ph.D.s may receive their M.A. in their second or third year of graduate study. Interested students from other degree programs should visit the Sociology department web site.

External Credit Policies

Degree Requirements

Coterminal MA Program Requirements

Coterminal M.A. students are required to take 45 units of course work during their graduate career. All units for the coterminal M.A. must be taken at or above the 100 level; advanced-level course work is encouraged and at least 50 percent must be courses designated primarily for graduate students (typically at the 200 level or above).  

Students who wish to take courses outside the department must seek approval in advance; coterminal master’s students are limited to 5 units from outside of the department and outside courses must be taken in other Social Science departments. Up to 5 units can be taken as an independent study or directed reading (course Coterminal MA individual study) with a faculty member appointed in Sociology but no more than 12 units of coursework across the 290 series (including SOC 291, SOC 292) can be counted toward the degree.

Students may transfer relevant units from their undergraduate career; to be eligible for transfer, courses must have been taken in the three quarters preceding the student's first graduate quarter. See the Registrar's Office for additional information on course transfer policies. All units applied to the coterminal master’s degree must be taken for a letter grade, and an overall grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) or better is required for the degree.

All coterminal students are required to take course Classics of Modern Social Theory and  course Foundations of Social Research (or their 100-level counterparts if taken previously as a Sociology BA). These introductory theory and methods courses are an important component of graduate training in the social sciences. Enrollment in course Junior Seminar: Preparation for Research, course Capstone Research Seminar, and course Introduction to Data Analysis is strongly encouraged. Together, these courses provide skills for research opportunities within the department and in academic or professional careers. 

The Department of Sociology is able to provide a research-intensive curriculum to a limited number of coterminal Master’s students each year. It is highly recommended that students interested in a research-focused experience have completed SOC 180A/280A and SOC 202, or be enrolled, at the time of application to the coterminal Master’s program. Applicants should indicate interest in their statement of purpose and describe their specific research question or topic. Upon acceptance, research-track students will work with the Sociology Coterm Director to develop an individualized program, which may include engaging in a research apprenticeship with faculty and/or completing an original research project.

Coterm Advising: Coterminal M.A. students should meet with the Sociology Coterm Director upon acceptance to discuss their planned coursework and receive approval for their program proposal. Revised program proposals, which outline the courses to be completed for the master's degree, must be submitted before the start of the student's second graduate quarter.

The Department of Sociology is committed to providing academic advising in support of the scholarly and professional development of all coterminal Master’s students. When most effective, this advising relationship entails collaborative and sustained engagement by both the advisor and the advisee. The Sociology Coterm Director guides students in key areas such as selecting courses, designing and conducting research, and exploring academic opportunities and professional pathways. The Sociology student services office is also available to assist coterminal students in navigating policies and degree requirements. Students are active contributors to the advising relationship, proactively seeking academic and professional guidance and taking responsibility for knowing and adhering to University and Departmental policies, standards, and requirements for coterminal students

For University coterminal degree program rules and University application forms, see the Coterminal Master's Degrees section of this bulletin. For additional information regarding the Sociology coterminal M.A. and how to apply, see the Department of Sociology web site.

Sample Program Proposals

Standard Coterminal MA Coursework



SOC 215

Global Human Rights and Local Practices


SOC 226

Introduction to Social Networks


SOC 249

The Urban Underclass


SOC 267A

Asia-Pacific Transformation


SOC 270

Classics of Modern Social Theory


SOC 280A

Foundations of Social Research


SOC 280B

Introduction to Data Analysis


SOC 287

Ethics, Morality, and Markets


SOC 289

Race and Immigration


Outside department


Previously taken Sociology Coursework


Research-focused Coterminal MA Coursework



SOC 202

Junior Seminar: Preparation for Research


SOC 204

Capstone Research Seminar


SOC 270

Classics of Modern Social Theory


SOC 280A

Foundations of Social Research


SOC 280B

Introduction to Data Analysis


SOC 291

Coterminal MA Directed Research


SOC 292

Coterminal MA Research Apprenticeship


Substantive Sociology Coursework


MA Program Requirements

For the M.A. degree, students must complete a minimum of 45 units of Sociology coursework with a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) or better. Of these units, 30 units must be taken in courses taught by faculty appointed in the Sociology department. Students may petition to use the remaining 15 units as flex units for courses not offered by faculty appointed in Sociology, but that are highly relevant to the discipline. Of these flex units, 5 can be taken as an independent study or directed reading with a member of the faculty appointed in Sociology. All flex units applied to courses not taught by faculty appointed in Sociology must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies. All courses must be taken for a letter grade when possible. Workshops and colloquia do not count towards the M.A.

A thesis is not required, but many students work closely with a Sociology faculty advisor to develop a publishable paper.

There is no teaching requirement for the M.A. in Sociology.

University regulations pertaining to the M.A. are listed in the "Graduate Degrees" section of this bulletin.