This section describes issues that are relevant to more than one degree program.
The following are considered to be TMS (theory/methods/statistics) courses for the purposes of graduate study:
Substantive courses are defined to include all other Department of Sociology courses at level 400 or higher other than those just listed, and also excepting 491, 495, 495B, 496, 499, 500, 699, 700, and 800. Broadly speaking, the term “substantive” is defined as referring to courses that focus on applications of social science knowledge to real world problems, and not are primarily aimed at teaching new techniques. They may also include courses outside of the department, subject to the following criteria:
Both the MA and PhD programs impose additional requirements regarding the minimum level of TMS and substantive courses.
For a full list of courses, see the course catalog.
A graduate student’s formal advisor is the faculty member who has the largest role in advising a student academically and is the main intermediary keeping the department apprised of the student’s academic progress. For MA students, the formal advisor is initially their temporary advisor, and subsequently their thesis (Plan A) or guidance (Plan B) committee chair after the committee has formed. Likewise, for PhD students, the formal advisor is, in sequence, their temporary advisor, guidance committee chair, then dissertation committee chair.
The formal advisor is responsible for reporting on a student’s academic progress to the faculty as a whole during the department annual review of graduate students, and is sometimes called upon to write memos to the graduate chair, as specified elsewhere in department rules and procedures.
Each year, early in the Spring semester, the department holds a mandatory faculty meeting to review the progress of every student in the graduate program. Although students do not attend the review meeting, they should report their current progress to their committee chair or advisor by the beginning of the semester. Regular faculty members in the department who have any contact with graduate students are required to attend the annual review meeting, and affiliate faculty who work closely with graduate students are invited and encouraged to attend. During the meeting, student's formal advisor reports briefly on how the student is progressing, and whether there are any issues that need to be addressed, and other faculty may also comment or ask questions. The department then places the student in one of three categories: "A" indicates a satisfactory rate of progress, "B" indicates that the student has fallen behind the satisfactory rate, and a "C" indicates a serious problem that places a student in jeopardy of being dropped from the program.The criteria for satisfactory progress is based roughly upon advancement through the requirements at a rate that will lead to an MA in two years or a PhD in six, but other factors that the faculty deem relevant may be taken into consideration as mitigating circumstances.
After the meeting, students are sent a memo explaining their review status, and describing any improvements that they are to expected to make. Students who are in “C” status will be given specific instructions on what they must accomplish prior to the subsequent annual review, and if they fail to do so they will be dropped from their program. Unsatisfactory progress in light of the department annual review is not the only reason that a student may be dropped from their program. Failure twice to pass a QR, comprehensive exam, or dissertation defense will also cause a student to be dropped. Failure to meet university requirements, such as Office of Graduate Education standards for progress and conduct or the UH Mānoa Student Code of Conduct, can also result in dismissal.
Despite the potential for such negative outcomes, the annual reviews are designed primarily to provide students with concrete assessments and constructive mandates to facilitate their movement through the program, and thus avoid situations where dismissal is called for. Students who fall substantially behind department expectations for progress put themselves in a position where it will be difficult or impossible to eventually meet university requirements for graduation, and the reviews are designed to help prevent this from happening.
It is a matter of federal law that most university research involving human subjects must go through an approval process to ensure safe and ethical treatment. The university Committee on Human Studies (CHS) is the organization at the university that monitors and enforces compliance with such mandates. All graduate students should become familiar with the documentation available on the CHS site, as well as the American Sociological Association Code of Ethics. Students should also be familiar more generally with Office of Graduate Education rules for research and publication. Typically, student research that takes place solely within a course context does not require human subjects approval. However, there is an exception of any research that could later be published or presented in a conference or other public forum. Failure to obtain approval may cause the university to prohibit a student from publishing or presenting data arising from such research. If still unsure after reading the CHS rules, the student should consult with the faculty member(s) for whom they are preparing the research. If still in doubt, prior CHS approval should be sought. For many kinds of relatively non-intrusive research the approval process is fairly simple, and may involve issuance of an exemption certificate by the CHS.
At the beginning of a semester in which a student, based on counsel from the committee, believes she or he has a good chance of completing all degree requirement by deadlines specified in the academic calendar, she or he should examine Office of Graduate Education graduation policies before submitting an application for graduation along with the appropriate fees.
For those in PhD or Plan A MA programs, be aware that deadline for submitting a thesis or dissertation is typically about a month prior to the end of the semester. It is possible to petition for extension of this deadline until as late as the end of the semester, though this should not be seen as the default option. To make such a petition, the student should write a request addressed to Office of Graduate Education, noting when they have or will have their oral examination, but submit the request to the sociology graduate secretary for filing and approval by the sociology graduate chair.
In case the student is unable to complete all graduation requirements as expected, she or he must register and re-file an application in any subsequent semester she or he plans to graduate.
There are a number of common elements to both dissertations and theses: There are strict Office of Graduate Education guidelines on the defense of a dissertation or thesis, including its composition and timing. Among other things, all committee members must attend personally unless permission has been given for remote participation through a Office of Graduate Education Petition for Remote Committee Participation Form submitted through the department or permission has been given by the graduate chair for use of a proxy. However, the use of a proxy is discouraged except when there are no other feasible alternatives.
The result of the oral defense is either a pass or fail, while the decision on the written dissertation or thesis is to accept as is or demand further specified revisions. The defense should be passed if the committee feels that the dissertation or thesis is already acceptable, or is confident that that the candidate will be able to carry out all necessary revisions without further examination. An attempt should be made to reach a consensus on this issue. The student is invited back into the room, and informed of the result and recommendations. In any case, committee members (and any proxy) who are present sign the Student Progress Form III, indicating their individual judgment on the defense, and arrangements are made to obtain the signature of any member participating remotely. The defense is judged as a pass overall if and only if the majority vote of participating faculty vote to pass. In case of a failure, the student may write a memo to the department graduate studies committee requesting a second and final defense. In case of a successful defense, the completed Form III should be submitted without delay by the student to the department graduate secretary for routing to Office of Graduate Education.
If the decision is to accept the written dissertation or thesis as is, the committee members sign the document’s signature page, which is given to the student, who duplicates the page and inserts into the copies of the dissertation that will be turned in by the student to the Office of Graduate Education. If revisions are demanded, then members of the committee may at their individual discretion not sign the signature page or sign conditionally, which means that they entrust the page to the committee chair for safekeeping until the student is deemed by all to have completed the required revisions. The dissertation or thesis should also follow all Office of Graduate Education guidelines, including those on content, style, format, and acknowledgements. Among things that are disallowed is writing that has been co-authored with someone else, or secondary data that has not been used in a way that is explicitly authorized by the original researcher.
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