The Master's Paper

The master’s paper is required for all doctorate students who enter the program without a master's degree in sociology and an approved thesis. 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 scope, structure, quality, and tone of a master’s thesis 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 department’s preferred citation style for master’s papers is the American Sociological Association standard.

The master’s paper must be approved by a thesis committee that consists of two faculty members in the Department of Sociology 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 primary thesis advisor must be selected by the end of the second semester of graduate study, with the reader chosen by the beginning of the fourth semester (end of January of the second year). A final draft of the paper must be submitted to the thesis committee by the end of February in semester four of graduate study (the second year). By April 15th, final approved and signed copies must be submitted to the student affairs coordinator: one bound copy that includes the signature from the thesis advisor as well as an electronic PDF version that includes a scanned copy of the signature page. The director of graduate studies’ and the Dean of the Graduate School's signatures are not required for the department copies. Failure to meet these deadlines may jeopardize consideration for good standing.

By May 1st students must submit two hard copies (one bound, one unbound) with signatures from the thesis advisor and a line for the Dean of the Graduate School's signature to the Graduate School. It is the responsibility of the student to hand deliver these copies to the Graduate School.

For more information on the Graduate School thesis guidelines: