Graduate students in FIU’s Department of Sociology & Anthropology receive the M.A. or Ph.D. in “Comparative Sociology.” The core requirements emphasize sociology but otherwise the program systematically blends sociology and cultural anthropology. The first M.A. students were admitted in 1990 and the first Ph.D. students in 1994.
What follows is a comparison of FIU’s graduate program in Comparative Sociology with sociology, rather than anthropology, programs at several benchmark research-oriented universities: Arizona State University, University of Central Florida, George Mason University, University of Houston, University of Illinois-Chicago, Temple University, and Wayne State University.8 As illustrated below in Table 8, not all of these universities offer the Ph.D. and none of them offers a degree in Comparative Sociology as FIU does.
The Comparative Sociology degree is unique and—particularly within the substantive areas of transnational migration/race-ethnicity, environment and sustainability, and comparative social conflicts—provides students with cross-disciplinary breadth in social science research. FIU’s joint sociology-anthropology program complicates direct comparison with programs at other universities that offer separate anthropology and sociology degrees. Given the sociological bent of FIU’s graduate core requirements, the comparison focuses on sociology, rather than anthropology, programs. It does so in terms of (1) credit hours; (2) core requirements; and (3) tracks and specializations. The analysis concludes by discussing FIU’s program from the perspectives of breadth, rationale, and currency.
Comparing Credit Hours
FIU requires that its M.A. students complete 36 credit hours of coursework. No other benchmark university requires more. Several programs require fewer hours: Arizona State, 30; Central Florida, 30; George Mason, 33; Illinois-Chicago, 32; and Wayne State, 32. For the Ph.D., FIU requires 90 hours, which are exceeded only by the 96 hours required at Illinois-Chicago.
Comparing Core Requirements
For purposes of comparison, we define “core requirements” as courses taken in theory and methods. FIU requires its regular (i.e. non-professional track) masters students to take three classes in methods/statistics and two in theory (classical and contemporary). This compares favorably with and in many cases exceeds requirements in the other programs. Houston requires only one theory course, along with three methods/statistics courses, for its masters degree. Central Florida’s masters curriculum requires only one theory course plus two method/statistics courses and a proseminar; Illinois-Chicago requires one course in theory and four courses in methods/statistics; and Arizona State requires two courses in theory and two in methods/statistics. George Mason’s M.A. requirements are equivalent to FIU’s. Temple requires two courses in statistics in addition to five theory or methods courses. Temple’s is the only program among the benchmarks to exceed FIU’s standards at the master’s level.
In sum, the requirements for FIU’s masters program are as rigorous or more rigorous than those for M.A. programs in sociology at the benchmark universities.
For the doctorate in Comparative Sociology, FIU requires that students take the two core courses in theory and three in methods/statistic, together with an additional course each in advanced theory and advanced methods/statistics. Of the benchmark Ph.D. programs, Temple’s Ph.D. requirements are similar to FIU’s: an additional higher-level course in both theory and methods plus one other course on survey research. Wayne State’s doctoral students complete the three theory and methods courses for the masters and must add one theory and one qualitative methods course for the Ph.D. Arizona State requires an additional theory course and two methods/statistics courses beyond the M.A. requirements. Illinois-Chicago has no additional theory or methods requirements beyond the masters level. Hence, FIU’s Ph.D. requirements equal or exceed those of the benchmark universities.
Schematic Comparison of Sociology Graduate Programs