Master's degree candidates major in general sociology. Students in either degree program are expected to prepare themselves to undertake research both through formal course work and through apprenticeships in the ongoing research activities of the faculty.
Ph.D. degree candidates may register in general sociology initially but must select one of the eight areas of concentration before taking the Admission to Candidacy examination. Candidates also choose two minors from sociology or related fields. Students normally take a sequence of core courses in theory and methods but may substitute a general examination in these subjects.
Ph.D. students in full-time residence are normally expected to earn the Ph.D. degree within four years. The written and oral Admission to Candidacy examination is usually taken early in the third year, followed by the dissertation and oral defense. One year of directed teaching experience at Cornell is required unless the student is specifically exempted.