PhD Milestones

Each year, students complete an Annual Progress Report that helps us track progress and see that all students are achieving their goals. Students typically take about 6 years to complete a PhD in Sociology. There are a number of reasons why students might progress at different rates. For this reason, the Associate Chair of Graduate Studies is available to speak to students about their progress and to offer advice for meeting the milestones.

For the funded cohorts, Sociology Department Summer Fellowships and Research Grant applications are due in October and March. Deadlines for SSHRC fellowships are in October and OGS applications are due in March. You must be in good academic standing and apply to the external grants for which you are eligible to receive funding. If academic progress is in question, the Graduate Program Office will inform you before funding is affected.

In addition to the benchmarks listed below, students should remember to participate in conferences, workshops and attend departmental events like job talks throughout their graduate career. To remain in good standing, students should receive an A- or higher in all courses. In each year, students may take supplemental courses beyond the required total. Note that italicized items below are professional development activities.

Download a summary of the Program Benchmarks .

YEAR I: Fall

Complete courses adding up to 1.5 FCE (3 half-year courses)

Complete Part I of the Pro-Seminar (required)

YEAR 1: Winter

Decide on area for 1st Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam

Complete courses adding up to 1.5 FCE courses (3 half-year courses) including the required winter courses: Contemporary Theory, Intermediate Data Analysis

Choose Advisor for the Research Practicum paper

YEAR 1: Summer

Begin the required Research Practicum course & work on developing research paper

Write 1st Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam (late August). Remember to submit the Comprehensive Examination Request Form no later than 8 weeks prior to the exam date.



Continue progress in the Research Practicum course

Complete required coursework (except Practicum and Part II Pro-seminar)

Select Supervisor & identify Supervisory committee for the dissertation

YEAR 2: Winter

Write 2nd Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam (early Feb.). Remember to submit the Comprehensive Examination Request Form no later than 8 weeks prior to the exam date.

Complete Research Practicum Course

YEAR 2: Summer

Write 2nd Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam if not already completed (late August). Remember to submit the Comprehensive Examination Request Form no later than 8 weeks prior to the exam date.

Work with Supervisor/committee in developing your dissertation project

Submit practicum paper for peer review

YEAR 3: Fall

Write dissertation proposal. For guidance in developing the proposal, please see the Department’s Dissertation Proposal Guidelines.

Work closely with Supervisor/committee to prepare for ethics approval

Complete Part II of the Pro-Seminar (required)

YEAR 3: Winter

Submit and defend dissertation proposal (submit PhD Thesis Proposal Form)

Collect data

Secure ethics approval if not already achieved

YEAR 3: Summer

Submit and defend dissertation proposal, if not already completed

Collect data for dissertation

Submit paper(s) for peer review


Collect  data for dissertation

Conduct dissertation data analysis

Write chapters and/or papers

Finalize the composition of full dissertation exam committee

Submit paper(s) for peer review

Take optional Teaching Sociology Grad Course

Teach a sociology undergraduate course

Develop web presence

Apply for dissertation funding and awards if relevant

Prepare post-doctoral fellowship and job application dossiers

Prepare and practice job talk

Submit and defend dissertation


The University of Toronto provides students with the option of taking a leave of absence for serious health or personal problems, or for parental leave. Students receiving funding from SSHRC or CIHR may take paid parental leave for up to six months and unpaid leave for up to three years for parental, medical and/or family-related responsibilities.