To receive their Ph.D., students must take 60 credits worth of coursework, must pass five required classes, take two written exams and one oral exam, meet a foreign language requirement, and, most importantly, write and successfully defend a dissertation. The City University of New York ties student tuition to their progress in the program. There are three levels of doctoral students, with Level I (beginning) students paying the highest tuition, Level II students paying somewhat less, and Level III students paying a much less costly fee, known as maintenance of registration fee. Students are thus encouraged to make steady progress.
In their first year, students usually take four of the required classes. They are the Development of Sociological Theory (on classical theory as exemplified by Marx, Weber, and Durkheim); Contemporary Sociological Theory, Statistics I and Statistics II. In addition, nearly all entering students take the proseminar, a class designed to introduce students to the program's faculty members and their work. Students must also take an additional research methods course. The program offers a variety of courses that meet this requirement.
In their first or second year, students take written exams on classical theory and on contemporary theory. If students take these exams before they have accumulated 30 credits, they can re-take them without penalty if they fail. If they take them after they have 30 credits, they can take them twice.
Students move to level II after passing the first exam. They pass the first exam after they have accumulated 45 credits, have passed both written exams, and have completed the five required courses with an average grade of B or better. At level II, they prepare for and take an oral exam that tests their knowledge of three substantive areas of sociology. Students select three professors to work with in preparing for the exam, submitting bibliographies to them and negotiating over the boundaries of the areas to be covered. Students also need to pass a foreign language requirement. Once students have passed the oral exam, have accumulated 60 credits, and have passed the language exam, they then select their dissertation committee and select a dissertation topic. They are now ready to move to Level III.
Once students are at Level III, they are officially advanced to candidacy. Students can apply for MPhil degree at this stage. They are now ready to start their research. Students are required to take human subjects (IRB) approval before they start their research. It is mandatory to have IRB approval whether their research deals with human subject participation or not. For more information check their website http://web.gc.cuny.edu/orup/humansubjects.html. Now comes the crucial task of writing a proposal, having that proposal approved, and then writing the dissertation. Students select their own dissertation committees. The committee must approve the student's proposal. Once the committee has done so, the proposal is then submitted to a faculty/student committee known as the Faculty Membership Committee. The members of this committee review every proposal and write comments on them, advising on the research design and the definition of the intellectual problem. The student responds to these comments and then begins the actual writing of the dissertation. On completion of the dissertation and a dissertation defense, the student receives the Ph.D.