The Master's Paper

The Master’s Paper is designed to provide a structured research experience of limited scope that covers the main elements of research, including selecting a research problem, reviewing current knowledge in the field, generating hypotheses or key points that require exploration, examining these hypotheses or key points with evidence, and drawing conclusions. The Master’s Paper should be the quality and length of a published paper in a major sociology journal. The scope, structure, quality and tone of a Master’s Paper should resemble a published paper in a major sociology journal. However, the Master’s Paper usually contains a more extensive literature review and a more detailed discussion of methodology than would a typical journal article (typically 30-35 pages of text, along with a modest number of tables, figures, and references). For some areas of research the paper may need to be longer but ordinarily should not exceed  50-60 pages of text.

The Master’s Paper  must be approved by a thesis committee that consists of two faculty members in the sociology department selected by the student, one of whom serves as the supervisor of the paper and the second as the reader. With prior permission from the Graduate Committee, the second reader may have a faculty appointment in another department at Brown. The thesis committee must be selected by the end of the second semester of graduate study. A final draft of the paper must be submitted to the thesis committee by the beginning of semester 4 of graduate study (end of January of the second year). Failure to meet these deadlines may jeopardize consideration for good standing.

Following acceptance of the Master’s Paper, a copy signed by the committee members must be submitted to the Department. A final, approved, and bound copy of the MA Paper must be deposited with the department’s Graduate Secretary.

Entering the Sociology PhD Program with a Master's Degree

Students who enter the Department with an acceptable Master’s thesis from another institution require 16 additional units of course work. A maximum of eight credits may be counted towards the residency requirement. All of students’ previous coursework will be examined to determine which courses can be counted toward the program at Brown. Specific course requirements may be waived by the Graduate Committee in consultation with the current instructor of the course for which the waiver is sought. All previously completed Master Theses are evaluated by one or two faculty members in the sociology department at Brown. A student whose Masters’ thesis is determined to be of suitable quality is exempt from the Masters’ thesis requirement and should work with his/her advisor to develop an individualized course study for program completion.