Preliminary Exams

Mastery of sociology as a discipline requires in-depth study of specific areas of interest and broad coverage of the major themes of sociological inquiry. Sociology as a field has a large number of specializations and the faculty in the department at Brown cover many of these areas. The areas of specialization selected as preliminary exam areas normally represent the areas in which the student plans to teach and carry out research for the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees.

Students will specialize in two areas of sociology selected from a standing list of areas offered by the department.  The exams for each area will draw on a standard bibliography of the field, compiled and maintained by the standing faculty committees who are the examiners in each area.  Each area is approximately the breadth of a section of the American Sociological Association, or a recognized subfield within Sociology.  Each preliminary exam area corresponds with an advanced seminar (200 level), which may be offered biennially in the department. For some areas, this seminar will be a Soc 187 seminar. Students are strongly advised to complete the relevant advanced seminar(s) before taking the exam. In exceptional cases, students may propose an alternative exam approximately equivalent in breadth to the existing areas (i.e. an ASA section) in an area not regularly offered. The graduate committee will consider these alternatives only if two faculty members have agreed to be examiners.

Completion of these preliminary examinations should take place in the third year of graduate study.  Students should, however, begin planning their areas of specialization through consulting with their advisor early in their graduate study. The schedule for the exam in each area will be set by the standing committee of examiners in each area. The committee will schedule exams once or twice a year. The scheduled exam date will be provided to students within six weeks of the date on which students officially indicated their intention to take an exam in a designated area.  Each exam will involve a 3-day take-home exam.  Two exam periods will be scheduled for each exam offering so that students who wish to take their two exams at the same cycle may do so. However, students need not take exams in both areas at the same time, but should take both exams in adjacent exam periods. Students may pick up questions from the graduate secretary at the beginning of the 72 hours, and must return answers by the end of that period.

List of Areas for Preliminary Exams as of September 2012:

Cultural Sociology

Committee: Gianpaolo Baiocchi, Paget Henry, Jose Itzigsohn and Michael Kennedy

Environmental Sociology

Committee: John Logan, J. Timmons Roberts, Leah Van Wey and Michael White

Health and Illness in Social Context 

Committee: Ann Dill, Mary Fennell, Margot Jackson, Susan Short and Mark Suchman

Organizations and Occupations

Committee: Ann Dill, Mary Fennell and Mark Suchman

Political Economy of Development and Globalization

Committee: Gianpaolo Baiocchi, Nitsan Chorev, Patrick Heller, Paget Henry, Jose Itzigsohn and J. Timmons Roberts

Political Sociology

Committee: Gianpaolo Baiocchi, Nitsan Chorev, Patrick Heller and Jose Itzigsohn, Michael Kennedy

Social Demography

Committee: Dennis Hogan, Margot Jackson, David Lindstrom, Nancy Luke, Susan Short, Leah Van Wey, Michael White

Social Inequality

Committee: Greg Elliott, Patrick Heller, Margot Jackson, John Logan and Hilary Silver

Social Theory

Committee: Gianpaolo Baiocchi, Nitsan Chorev, Patrick Heller and Jose Itzigsohn

Sociology of Race, Ethnicity, and International Migration

Committee: Jose Itzigsohn, John Logan, Michael Kennedy, Michael White and Hilary Silver

Urban Sociology

Committee: John Logan, Hilary Silver and Michael White