Academic Program Requirements

Curriculum Requirements

SOCY Graduate Student Handbook 2021

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 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 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. All students must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better order to graduate.

Degree-seeking students in the Applied Sociology program are required to complete a capstone project. Students 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.

Students must decide whether to pursue the Master’s Thesis or Master’s Paper option and identify a Thesis Committee Chair or First Reader as well as a tentative area of research. It is the student’s responsibility to select potential topics of interest for the Master’s Paper or Master’s Thesis. Students should then meet with faculty members who are interested in those topics. The student and the First Reader or Thesis Committee Chair will jointly develop the specific topic and time line for completion of the Master’s Paper or Master’s Thesis. The student should complete and submit the Capstone Declaration Form to the Graduate Coordinator. The Coordinator will process the form, assign the First Reader or Committee Chair as the student’s academic advisor, and issue permission to enroll in the respective credits (SOCY 711 for Master’s Paper Research or SOCY 799 for Master’s Thesis Research).

Students should maintain close contact with their faculty advisor in order to develop a viable program of study and avoid graduation delays. Students should become familiar with the University’s requirements and deadlines for organizing and submitting the capstone project.

Please consult the Capstone Requirement Document for detailed information about the capstone project options, guidelines, tasks, timelines, and FAQs.

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.

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.

  • Key:
    Nonprofit Certificate require course = NPSC

    Social Dimensions of Health Certificate required course = SDOH
    Applied Social Research Methods Certificate required course = ASRM 

    • Social Inequality and Social Policy (SOCY 606) – SDOH option 
    • Constructing Race, Class, and Gender (SOCY 611) – SDOH option 
    • Advanced Statistics (SOCY 608) 
    • SAS for Social Scientists (SOCY 618) 
    • Qualitative Methods in Social Research (SOCY 619) 
    • Applied Sociology (SOCY 680) – ASRM 
    • Sociology of Aging (SOCY 630) 
    • Gender, Work and Family in Cross-Cultural Perspective (SOCY 633) 
    • Gender and the Life Course (SOCY/GWST 634 hosted by GWST department) 
    • Social Dimensions of Health (SOCY 651) – SDOH 
    • Sociology of Mental Health and Illness (SOCY 658) – SDOH 
    • Neighborhoods and Health Inequality (SOCY 661) – SDOH option 
    • Social Ties across the Life Course (SOCY 670) 
    • The Social and Institutional Roles of Nonprofit Organizations in American Society (SOCY 681) – NPSC 
    • Structure and Functions of Nonprofit Organizations (SOCY 685) – NPSC 
    • Advanced Selected Topics in Sociology (e.g. Social Networks, Crime, and Health; Politics of Crime and Punishment) (SOCY 698) 
    • Directed Independent Study (SOCY 701) 
Track Your Progress

SOCY MA Checklist

Courses in and outside the Department 

Students may take up to 2 courses outside of the department. Permission must be obtained from the GPD before registering for a course outside of the department. The program has a list of approved courses offered by other departments that Applied Sociology MA students may take. In case there is a not approved non-SOCY course of interest on the schedule, please send the information to the graduate director to see whether it may be approved. 

Students typically take course in affiliated departments, such as Gerontology (GERO), Public Policy (PUBL), and Language, Literacy, and Culture (LLC). Some examples are below: 

  •  Sociocultural Gerontology – GERO 700  
  •  Policy Analysis of Aging Issues – GERO 703 
  •  Social Science Approaches to Policy Analysis – PUBL 609 
  • Quantitative Methods for Management – PUBL 614 
  • Language, Gender and Sexuality – GWST/LLC/MLL 613 
  • Qualitative Research Methods in Schools and Communities – LLC 684 


Academic Probation and Dismissal from the Graduate School
  1. Students who do not maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 will be placed on
    academic probation. In order to avoid dismissal from the Graduate School, students
    must achieve a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 by the end of the semester following
    being placed on probation.
  2.  Students must earn a grade of B- or better in SOCY 600 and SOCY 604. A grade of C+
    or lower in either of these courses will not be counted towards the program
    requirements and students will be required to repeat the course for a B- or better. With a
    C+ or lower in 600 or 604, students will be placed on academic probation. Students
    have one chance to repeat 600 or 604 in order to earn a B- or better. If unsuccessful,
    the program will recommend dismissal to the Graduate School.
  3.  If a student receives a C+ or lower while on probation or in a repeat of 600 or 604, they
    may write a formal letter of appeal to the graduate program committee asking to repeat
    the course one more time. The letter must be received within two weeks after receiving
    the grade in the course. The student will receive a decision no later than two weeks
    after the committee receives the appeal letter.
  4. Students who earn a D or F grade in any course will be placed on academic
    probation. If students earn an F or D grade while on probation,
    the program will recommend dismissal to the Graduate School.
  5. Students who withdraw (W grade) from more than one course during their time in the
    program will be placed on academic probation. Students will receive a probation letter
    after withdrawing from the second course. If a student is placed on probation for two
    W’s, they may write a formal letter of appeal to the graduate program committee. The
    letter must be received within two weeks after receiving the grade in the course. The
    student will receive a decision no later than two weeks after the committee receives the
    appeal letter. If students earn a W grade while on probation
    the program will recommend dismissal to the Graduate School.
  6. The Graduate Program in Applied Sociology converts Incompletes (I grades) to F
    grades after one year unless students (with the support of the course professor and
    their advisor) petition the Graduate Program Director for more time. The petition form is
    available from the Graduate Program Coordinator.
  7. Students can repeat a course for which they have received a W, D, or F grade only
    once.  A student must receive a passing grade of C or better on the second attempt to
    avoid dismissal from the program.
  8. The Graduate Program Committee meets at the end of each semester to discuss all
    students’ academic progress. Students will be notified by email within two weeks after
    final grades for a given semester are posted if they are being placed on probation for
    any reason. Following this end of semester meeting, the program will recommend any
    student on probation, who does not meet the terms of their probation requirements, to
    the graduate school for dismissal from the program. Appeals of Academic Dismissal are
    reviewed per the policy established by the Graduate School. This policy is available in
    the Graduate Catalogue.
  9. Students must earn a grade of B or better in any course that they intend to count towards a certificate.
Graduate Student Resources

Graduate Student Association