Receiving Approval of Previous MAs from Outside UW Sociology

Occasionally students enter the graduate program having already earned a Masters Degree elsewhere.  While such students should be prepared to complete an additional MA in the department, students whose previous MA degree included a written thesis are invited to request a formal faculty review of their prior MA work.  Students whose MA is approved via this review process will not be required to complete a second MA degree in the UW Sociology department.  All students, however, are required to complete the required first year courses, since completing these courses is a requirement of the Ph.D. program.


During the first quarter of graduate school, students who have earned a MA from elsewhere should submit a package of written materials to the Graduate Program Advisor.  An MA from elsewhere includes either MAs from outside the University of Washington, or a University of Washington MA from a department other than Sociology. 

This package should include:

  1. A completed Request for Review of Prior MA Degree form, signed by the student's UW Sociology Advisor.
  2. A short statement describing the MA program and what the thesis accomplishes.
  3. A copy of the MA Thesis.  This should be submitted in English.  If your thesis was originally written in a language other than English, you may submit a translated version.
  4. A transcript of prior graduate coursework.

The Graduate Program Advisor will provide this material to the Graduate Program Coordinator for official review.  The Graduate Program Coordinator will appoint a student-specific committee of at least two faculty members to review the request.  This committee will include a faculty member whose substantive and/or methodological expertise equips them to evaluate the thesis, and at least one member of the Graduate Program Committee.  The prior MA will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  1. Does the MA thesis demonstrate an ability to conduct methodologically sound social scientific research?
  2. Does the overall package of MA work demonstrate that the student is prepared to begin Ph.D. level independent, empirical, sociological research?


Normally, the outcome of the review will be:

  • Either to accept the MA (thereby waiving the requirement to earn a UW Sociology MA as a step toward the Ph.D.);
  • Or to reject the MA (thereby requiring the student to complete an MA in the Sociology department as a condition of admission to the Ph.D. program).

In rare cases, the review committee may find that the existing thesis is deficient in one or more limited aspects.  Under these circumstances, the review committee may recommend that the student work with a faculty member to revise the thesis so that it could be accepted: 

  • Invitations to revise the thesis require the approval of the entire Graduate Program Committee and agreement from the designated faculty member. 
  • Revisions should normally be completed within two quarters. 
  • Failure to successfully revise within this time period means the student's MA is rejected and she/he must complete a second MA in the UW Sociology department.

Important Policy Notes

  1. This policy will go into effect with the 2012 entering cohort.  However, currently enrolled students may request a review of previous MA work if they wish.
  2. Students whose MA is accepted will be classified as 'post-MA' students.  Each member of the same committee who has reviewed the previous MA will provide a summary evaluation of the MA thesis, and make a recommendation concerning whether or not to advance the student to the Ph.D. program.  See this page for the rest of this advancement process.
  3. Students whose MA is accepted are still required to complete the required first year courses, since completing these courses is a requirement of the Ph.D. program.
  4. Students who have extensive prior coursework in social statistics may separately petition to waive out of one or more of the required statistics courses.  Such petitions are reviewed jointly by the Methods committee and the Graduate Program Committee.  If approved, be sure to send a copy of the approval to the Graduate Program Coordinator for your student file.

Policy for Approving Non-UW Sociology MAs
Adopted by Faculty 11/02/2011 
Officially Effective with 2012 Cohort.  
Currently enrolled students may request a review if they wish.