Degree, Minors and Certificates Offered

General Information


Undergraduate Programs

Requirements for Undergraduate Degrees from the Colleges of Arts and Sciences

Professional Programs



College of Social Sciences
Saunders Hall 247
2424 Maile Way
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-7693
Fax: (808) 956-3707


*Graduate Faculty

*V. K. Kanuha, PhD (Chair)—multicultural issues, gender violence, native Hawaiian health, HIV
*P. G. Steinhoff, PhD (Graduate Chair)—collective behavior/social movements, comparative sociology (Japan), political sociology
*S. K. Chai, PhD—social theory, economic development, comparative sociology (Asia)
*K. Irwin, PhD—criminology, deviance and social control, qualitative methodology
*D. T. Johnson, PhD—criminal justice, comparative sociology (Japan), law and society
*H. Koo, PhD—comparative sociology (Korea), social stratification, development
*Y. J. Lee, PhD—quantitative methodology, demography, gender stratification, aging and health
*K. Mossakowski, PhD—medical sociology, stress and mental health, life course and aging, social psychology, social epidemiology, race/ethnicity
*S. Nakajima, PhD—economic sociology, organizations, culture, sociology of film and media, Chinese society
*N. Sharma, PhD—race/ethnic/minority relations, theory/migration and immigration
*L. Uperesa, PhD—race and race relations, global anthropology, sociology and ethnic studies
*D. W. Wood, PhD—medical sociology, evaluation research, quantita-tive methodology, substance abuse prevention and treatment
*S. Wurtzburg, PhD—gender, ethnicity, violence, addictions, Pacific Islands
*W. Zhang, PhD—medical sociology, social epidemiology, research methods

Cooperating Graduate Faculty

M. Brown—UH Hilo criminology, gender and women's issues
M. Chesney-Lind, PhD—criminology, gender and women's issues
J. Chinen, PhD—women and work, race, class and gender, race and ethnic relations
A. Kimura, PhD—women's studies

Affiliate Graduate Faculty

S. Kanaiaupuni, PhD—demography, education, Native Hawaiians
A. B. Robillard, PhD—ethnomethodology, medical sociology, comparative disability (Pacific Islands)

Adjunct Faculty

P. Adler, PhD—conflict management, community studies
J. Dannenberg, JD—law and society
J. Manis, PhD—social psychology, social problems

Degrees Offered: BA (including minor) in sociology; MA in sociology; PhD in sociology

The Academic Program

Sociology (SOC) is the study of how society organizes itself and how various groups interact with each other and the consequences of these processes. Sociology's subject matter includes marriage and family patterns, race and ethnic relations, demography, social change, class structure, formal organizations including bureaucracies, value systems, conflict, deviant behavior, medical sociology and aging, criminology, and the people and institutions of other societies.

Sociology uses a range of research techniques for studying social phenomena that can be applied to many areas, whether one is interested in the incidence of crime, client satisfaction, policy evaluations, or demographic trends. In addition to preparing people as professional sociologists in academic settings, sociology is an excellent background for careers in law, social work, public health, urban planning, public administration, and other fields. The graduate program provides students with a foundation in basic theory and methods of research. In addition, faculty and advanced graduate students are involved in several broad areas of sociological interest: the comparative sociology of Asia; the study of crime, law, deviance, and human services in the U.S.; aging and medical sociology; and race and ethnic relations.

Undergraduate Study

Bachelor’s Degree


Students must complete a prerequisite introductory sociology course and 30 credit hours of upper division courses, including:

  • three 400-level courses
  • SOC 300 and 321
  • one course from SOC 475, 476, 478, or SOCS 225 (Note: SOCS 225 is a lower division course and cannot be counted toward required upper division credit hours)

Consult the department for graduate and career opportunities.

For information on a Bachelor Degree Program Sheet, go to



Students must complete a prerequisite introductory-level sociology course and 15 credit hours, including:

  • SOC 300
  • One 400-level course
  • Three other upper division sociology courses
  • SOC 100 or any 200-level course is a prerequisite for all 300-level courses; SOC 300 is a prerequisite for all 400-level courses
  • To fulfill major or minor requirements, courses must be passed with a grade of C (not C-) or better

Undergraduate Certificates

For information about applying for the following certificate program and a list of the available courses, please see the undergraduate advisor in sociology.

Graduate Study

Two programs of graduate study in sociology are offered: a PhD program, intended to provide a professional basis for research and university teaching, and an MA program, designed to offer a general sociology curriculum and specialized areas of study relevant to career lines other than university scholarship. The following are brief descriptions and do not list all aspects of procedures and requirements; the department provides a complete statement of its graduate degree program on its website at All requirements specified by the Graduate Division and general university regulations also apply.

Applicants for graduate study in the department must specify whether they wish to enter the MA or PhD program. University transcripts, a Statement of Objectives, letters of recommendation, and GRE General Test scores are required of all applicants. The TOEFL or IELTS test is required for applicants who are not native speakers of English. A sample of written work is also required of applicants to the PhD program and recommended for applicants to the MA program. An undergraduate major in sociology is not required for admission, but makeup course work may be required in some cases. Applications will be accepted for either fall term or spring term admission. The application deadline for admission are January 15 (international students) and February 1 (domestic students) for the fall semester and August 1 (international) and September 1 (domestic) for the spring semester. Please see the department website for more information and links to appropriate graduate division pages.

Master’s Degree

The department offers an MA Plan A (thesis) program.

Plan A (Thesis) Requirements

The MA curriculum in sociology (Plan A) should prepare the student for positions involving expertise in social research. In addition, preparatory training is provided to those who are thinking of aspiring to a doctoral degree, but feel they need more preparation. However, an MA candidate cannot assume that satisfactory completion of this curriculum will lead to placement in the department's PhD program.

The Plan A program aims to provide the student with a firm foundation in sociological theory, methods and statistics, as well as their application to the study of various substantive aspects of society.

A minimum of 30 credit hours of sociology-related course work is required for this program, as well as the successful completion of an MA thesis. All candidates are required to take at least one course each in the core areas of sociological theory, research methodology, and social statistics at the 400 level or higher, as well as five substantive courses, of which four must be at the 600 level or higher. In addition, students must take 6 credits of Thesis Research (SOC 700). The thesis is a substantial research project that shows a student's ability to produce original substantive and intellectual work. All courses credited toward the 30 credit hour minimum required for the MA degree must be passed with a grade of B or better.

The first semester's work is planned in consultation with the graduate chair and a temporary advisor appointed by the graduate chair. During the first semester, under the guidance of the temporary advisor, the student prepares a statement outlining a study plan that reflects his or her special interests and meets the credit requirements of the program. By the end of the second semester, the student should form a thesis committee of three or more faculty members, generally drawn primarily from the department.

The thesis committee assists the student in deciding upon a thesis topic. The student then writes a thesis proposal, which must be approved by the committee. Under the supervision of the committee, the student carries out the proposed research and writes the MA thesis. When the committee feels the student is ready, the student submits the final draft of the thesis, and the committee conducts a final oral examination. Both the oral examination and the written paper must meet the committee's approval for an MA to be awarded.

Plan B (Non-thesis) Requirements

A Plan B (non-thesis) MA is also offered only in special circumstances. Students are only admitted to the Plan A MA program.

Doctoral Degree

This is an academically-oriented program. It is designed to provide the student with a firm foundation in sociological theory, methods, and research so the student is prepared to engage in professional research and university teaching.

The PhD program is designed to give the student systematic exposure to sociological theories, methods, and statistics, as well their application to a number of substantive areas of society. It also provides the opportunity to develop special, high-level competence within an area of research, and the training to publish and present this research in professional settings.

The first phase of the PhD program provides basic training in theory, methods, and research. The course requirement in this phase is to complete five required courses in theory, methods, and statistics, as well as 15 additional course credits consisting of substantive courses and up to three credits of SOC 699. All courses that count towards PhD requirements must be at the 600 level or higher and passed with a grade of B or above. The minimum total number of course credits necessary for graduation is 33, but most PhD students take more than the minimum in order to gain adequate knowledge. Completing non-course requirements (QR, comprehensive, dissertation) generally takes more time than course requirements. Please consult the department website for more specifics regarding each of the stages in the PhD degree.

By the third semester, the student should form a guidance committee consisting of at least three faculty members, typically drawn primarily from within the department. By approximately the fourth semester, the student submits two of their best course papers for their qualifying review. The papers are judged by a specially constituted qualifying review panel. The qualifying review must be passed before proceeding onto Phase II of the PhD program.

The second phase provides advanced training in areas of concentration and dissertation research. The course requirement in this phase is to take three additional credits of substantive courses at the 600 level or above. In addition, the student is required to take a written and oral comprehensive examination on two selected areas of concentration, write a dissertation proposal, perform the approved dissertation research, finish writing and orally defend a dissertation.

Early in the second phase, the student must organize a dissertation committee consisting of at least five members of graduate faculty, including the official university representative from the Graduate Division's list of eligible university representatives for sociology, in accordance with the Graduate Division policies.

Preferably by the fifth semester, all PhD students must take a comprehensive examination from the dissertation committee. The written examination covers two broadly defined research areas, as determined by the student and the dissertation committee. The student develops a bibliography for each area, and the dissertation committee makes up questions from each. After the student has taken the written examination, the dissertation committee evaluates the results and proceeds to hold a closed oral examination to determine whether or not the student is prepared to undertake dissertation research.

Following successful completion of the comprehensive examination, the student prepares a dissertation proposal. This proposal describes the theoretical basis and the research strategy to be employed in the study of the dissertation problem. When it has been successfully defended before the doctoral committee, the student proceeds to the research and writing phase of the dissertation. The dissertation should represent a major original scholarly contribution to the field of sociology suitable for publication in the form of a monograph book. A PhD is given only after completion of the dissertation text and oral defense to the satisfaction of the dissertation committee.

SOC Courses