Sociology, MA

Program Category: MA Programs
Chair: Mario Small
MA Advisor: Denise Milstein
Degree Programs: Full-Time/Part-Time: Free-Standing MA

The Free-Standing Master's degree in sociology is an intensive program that combines academic training with independent research, culminating in the completion of a thesis. The program may be completed in two full-time semesters, one full-time and two part-time semesters, or four part-time semesters. We encourage students to develop independent research, thinking beyond the traditional divisions between qualitative and quantitative methods, and challenging the boundaries of sociology as a discipline. While our training specializes in ethnographic methods applied to urban environments, the program is expansive and diverse, accommodating students interested in quantitative approaches, international research, topics in education, and historical projects, among others.

The 30-credit program builds analytical and critical skills in sociology while supporting students through fieldwork and discovery, whether in New York's urban environment, in historical archives, in industrial settings, or other fields. MA students pursue a tailored curriculum while also participating alongside PhD students and faculty in the academic life of the department. Required courses build a solid foundation in sociological theory and methods, while electives offer opportunities for further exploration or specialization. One-on-one advising supports students as they access data sources, select field sites, and make their way through their own research process. Our faculty works closely with students to apply concepts, develop expertise, and build individual projects based on research and experiences in a variety of communities and settings. Our methods courses encourage diverse and innovative approaches to research and engagement at every step of the process, from the elaboration of projects to the final thesis draft.

For students headed toward academic careers, the MA experience at Columbia offers an opportunity to join in the scholarly conversation by participating in a vibrant academic community while carrying out an independent research project. For those aiming beyond sociology, to careers in the non-profit sector or with international organizations, our program opens a space for developing, discussing and presenting sociological work relevant to the public good. The skills developed in our program support careers that rely on analytical and research skills in the corporate world, in education, and in public policy, among others.

Special Admissions Requirements: 

In addition to the requirements listed below, all students must submit one transcript showing courses and grades per school attended, a statement of academic purpose, a writing sample (a course paper, term paper, etc.), a personal statement, and three letters of evaluation from academic sources.

The statement of academic purpose should include a description of a potential research project that you would like to pursue to fulfill the thesis requirement while at Columbia.

Applicants interested in partial fellowship opportunities should submit their application by the early deadline and reach out to [email protected] to request a department fellowship application.

All international students whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate degree is from an institution in a country whose official language is not English must submit scores of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or IELTS.

For more information, refer to our Admissions Information and Frequently Asked Questions pages.

*GSAS will accept up to four recommendations, regardless of the number required by your program of interest. However, to be eligible for admission at GSAS, at least TWO letters must be submitted by academic recommenders.