Graduate Student FAQ
Life at VCU has information about exploring the VCU campus and surrounding Richmond community.
The Sociology Department is located at 827 West Franklin Street on the second floor of Founders Hall.
The graduate program director and advisor for graduate students is Dr. Tara Stamm (email@example.com). She can arrange for a campus visit, conversations with current graduate students or answer questions regarding the program.
General contact information for the department is:
827 W. Franklin St. (Founders Hall)
P.O. Box 842543
Richmond, VA 23284‐2543
Phone: (804) 828‐4028
Many graduate students are eligible for some amount of financial aid which is available in various forms, including loans, grants, scholarships, and work‐study funding. Contact the VCU Financial Aid Office for information. In addition, the Sociology Department awards several graduate assistantships on a competitive basis to on-campus students entering in the fall semester. However, some opportunities develop over the course of the academic year, so be alert for emails asking for applications. Students in the online program are not eligible for assistantships at this time.
A full-time course load for graduate students is 9 credit hours per semester (3 3-credit courses). This allows for completion of the M.S. in four semesters (two years). Students receiving Graduate Teaching Assistantships must be full-time students.
Definitely yes! Graduate school is a completely different world and academic experience. Here are a few differences:
- The amount of coursework required in graduate classes is much greater than that required in undergraduate education. You should expect to read at least 100 pages per week for each course. You should expect to write a 20‐25 page final paper, or its equivalent in project form, in addition to several smaller assignments for each course. You should expect to prepare and give oral presentations or lead discussions regularly in each class.
- Attendance requirements vary by instructor, but in general, attendance is expected at all class meetings in graduate courses. If an emergency arises that prevents you from attending class, you must notify the instructor as soon as possible and take full responsibility for making up any missed work.
- You should complete all assignments on time. Graduate students are expected to engage actively with the material and contribute substantially to the intellectual life of the course. The quality of a graduate course depends heavily on the timely work of the students.
- You should expect to become better acquainted with the professors in graduate school. Class sizes are smaller, and there tends to be more mentoring and advising at this level than at the undergraduate level.
- You will be expected to be self-motivated in your course work and show progress toward becoming an independent learner and a contributor to sociological knowledge. You will be critically examining primary sources written by sociologists and forming your own perspectives on the field.
Yes! However, you should be prepared to take all of the electives for the Digital Sociology Concentration online rather than in person.
No, not presently, since our program is still small. Some courses are offered only during fall and others only during spring semesters.
- SOCY 502 Contemporary Sociological Theory – Fall
- SOCY/STAT 508 Introduction to Social Statistics – Fall and Summer (offered in summer often, but not guaranteed)
- SOCY 601 Methods of Sociological Research – Fall
- SOCY 602 Applications of Methods of Sociological Research – Spring
- SOCY/STAT 608 Social Statistics – Spring
Other required courses, SOCY 699 Seminar in Sociological Practice may be taken during fall or spring or, assuming faculty availability, during the summer.
A typical schedule for a full-time graduate student in the first semester is to take
- Social Theory
- Research Methods
Students register through eServices.
Yes. All students must complete a minimum of 36 semester hours to complete the degree with an overall grade point average of 3.0 or above. A student who does not maintain a 3.0 average may be dropped from the M.S. program at any time by the Graduate Program Committee. A review of all first‐year graduate students will be conducted at the end of their second semester by the Graduate Program Committee. The purpose of this review will be to assess all first‐year students on their satisfactory/unsatisfactory progress toward the degree.
Yes. Online students should have either a built-in or external webcam to be able to participate in virtual meetings with professors and students. Also, we highly recommend use of a broadband connection, especially in these virtual meetings.
Yes, Alpha Kappa Delta, Students for Social Action, and Sociologists for Women in Society. See the Student Groups web page for more information. Graduate students have always been a mainstay of these groups, and we highly encourage getting involved!
VCU has licensed a number of licensed software products that are freely available to students. The Technology Services Software Center page displays these. Students are eligible for discounts on other popular software products. See the Software Purchasing page for details.
As part of the program for both online and on-campus students, students develop an e-portfolio (electronic portfolio) during their time with us. Entering students are required to register for a free personal blog site with RSS feed capability. If students have an existing site, they will be able to use that during the program if desired. We advise incoming students without personal sites to register at the free VCU WordPress site, Rampages.us. All required courses and most elective courses will have blogging assignments. Details will follow in course syllabi. Students will be developing an e-portfolio of their work as they move through the program in order to demonstrate growth and achievements. These sites will be open, in that anyone with an internet connection can view your work.
The VCU Library has a wide variety of resources available to students. For example, literature searches can be conducted directly from the library homepage. A good place to start to familiarize yourself with library resources is the link on the library site to the Research Guides home page. Here you will see a wide variety of guides indexed by subject. The Sociology Research Guide home page shows links to the most popular resources for literature searching as well as general information (e.g., “Writing a Literature Review”) and contact information for the sociology reference librarian. At the time of this writing, that’s Dr. Nita Bryant, who has a Ph.D. in Sociology and is a former faculty member in the department.
The M.S. in Sociology is a versatile credential that prepares students for a wide variety of employment options or serves as the foundation for entry into a Ph.D. program. Many of our Applied Sociology graduates are working in professional careers in non-profit organizations and government agencies or in community colleges as faculty members. Our Applied Sociology students have often found that their internship placements lead to the development of professional networks and employment opportunities. Our thesis students are typically very successful in their Ph.D. program applications, and many have joined the higher education professoriate or are employed as advanced level researchers in non-profit organizations or government agencies. The VCU career center offers individualized career and professional development services. Please visit the University Career Center for more information.
Read more about the career options after earning a sociology masters degree in a study conducted by the American Sociological Association, “What Can I Do With a Masters Degree?: A Study of Masters Candidates.”