What to Expect

Grad signStudying sociology at the graduate level can be an exciting endeavour. When you enter into a graduate program, you are embarking on an adventure of discovery where you will learn about the social world in far greater depth than you could imagine in your undergraduate studies. You will find yourself challenged both by your community of peers and by your instructors. You will also learn new skills as our program transforms you from a consumer of sociology to a producer of new social knowledge.

The University of Toronto stands out among its peer institutions for the strength, number and breadth of its faculty members, the opportunities for cross-disciplinary studies, and for the department’s holisitic approach to graduate education.

Because we believe that graduate students should devote their time to their studies, the University of Toronto offers a guaranteed funding package for five years of graduate study. We also require that students apply for external funding. This not only increases the student’s income for the year, it also helps to develop valuable skills in proposal writing – skills that will be useful in many academic and non-academic careers.

Through a combination of course work, independent and collaborative research, teaching assistantships, and participation in seminars and workshops, our students develop from critical consumers of sociology to sociologists conducting their own high quality research that will have an impact on the field for years to come.

Course work

Graduate courses are typically smaller than undergraduate classes. Methods courses are hands-on and seminars on a particular topic typically require extensive reading and classroom discussion. Because your fellow graduate students are as passionate about sociology as you are, you can expect stimulating discussions to emerge in the classes and outside of them.

The University of Toronto sociology programs have a strong methodological component to them. Because the field of sociology increasingly values multi-method approaches to research, we position our students to be leaders in the field by teaching all our program students both qualitative and quantitative methods. MA students  take Social Statistics and Qualitative Methods, and PhD students take Intermediate Statistics and have the option of taking further offerings in Qualitative Methods (e.g. Interviewing Techniques, Field Methods).

Second-year PhD students also participate in a unique year-long Research Practicum course. Designed as a workshop, students in this course work with the faculty teaching the course, their own faculty supervisor and the other students in the course to produce a potentially publishable paper. In the classroom sessions, students discuss their progress and cover topics ranging from research ethics to methodology and writing. Outside of the classroom, they meet one-on-one with their faculty supervisor and work through data collection and/or analytical issues. At the end of the course, students present their research to peers and faculty in a mini-conference.

In addition to our methods courses and practicum, we offer a range of courses in each of our areas of specialty. We offer a core course in each of areas of specialty at least once every two years. These courses help PhD students prepare for their comprehensive examinations and provide in-depth study into a substantive area of interest.

Finally, we also offer 2 professional practice courses for our PhD students. These non-credit courses provide training on topics relevant to sociology as a profession, and help students build academic skills such as proposal writing, gathering and understanding relevant literature, producing academic presentations, and writing journal articles. See a list of all our courses and this year’s offerings.


Coursework is only one piece of the graduate learning experience. In addition to classroom learning, all graduate students benefit from working with faculty members on their research projects. We have over 60 faculty members and all have active, cutting edge research projects. All PhD students also engage in their own research projects when they begin their dissertation research. Many students also engage in smaller projects that might emerge out of course work or their MA major research project. The Research Practicum is designed particularly to start students on the road to publishing their research.

Many of our graduate students publish their research in top quality academic journals. Sometimes these are co-authored publications with faculty members growing out of research conducted as paid Research Assistants or out of collaborative work on an area of joint interest. Other times, our students publish sole-authored articles on their own independent research projects. Most of our students present their work at major academic conferences. Read more about our graduate student research here.

Each year, we present two awards in recognition of outstanding graduate student research. The Daniel G. Hill Prize for Best Graduate Paper in Sociology recognizes the best published paper in any field of sociology written by a sociology graduate student who is a resident of Ontario. The Dennis Magill Canada Research Award honours the best dissertation or published paper about Canadian society by a PhD student enrolled in our program. Many of our students also receive awards for their work from the Canadian Sociological Association. See more information about awards.

Teaching Experience

Working as a Teaching Assistant provides valuable experience and training for developing skills in pedagogy. As part of the funding package, all graduate students work for at least ## hours as teaching assistants. More about how this works. Support for developing as a teacher are available at the University of Toronto through the Teaching Assistant Training Program. We also offer a Teaching Sociology non-credit course for our advanced graduate students to enhance their development as Sociology instructors.

After working for several terms as a Teaching Assistant, many of our senior PhD students will design and teach one or more courses in their own area of specialty. More about how this works.

Seminars and Workshops

The University of Toronto has a wealth of opportunity for intellectual growth and community. Many of the area groups present workshops throughout the year that are designed to provide graduate students with opportunities to share their research and receive feedback from their peers and from faculty in the area. We also regularly bring in internationally-renowned scholars in the department’s areas of expertise, offering students the opportunity to hear leading experts in their fields present their research and to engage in discussions with them.

In addition to the area workshops, we particularly invite all graduate students and faculty members to attend the annual S.D. Clark Symposium on the Future of Canadian Society. Named in honour of eminent sociologist and our department’s founder, this symposium consists of an annual day-long conference with prominent local and external sociologists speaking on a given theme. Previous symposia have focused on the themes: Income Inequality (2015) and Immigration (2016).

Graduate Student Outcomes

After they graduate, our students bring the skills they have learned to academic and non-academic careers. Our Master’s program provides solid basic training to those who plan to work in positions requiring research skills in the public and private sectors. Our PhD program prepares candidates for a career in teaching and research. Graduates from the program will be able to conduct independent research and to communicate their research in a variety of contexts.¬† Our PhD alumni have moved on to careers in the academic sector, in think tanks, as well as the public and private sectors.