Aug 18, 2019  
2011-2012 General Catalog 
2011-2012 General Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG Please see current catalog]

Social Sciences, MSS (Sociology)

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College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Degree Coordinator:

John C. Allen, Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Location: Main 338
Phone: (435) 797-1195

Degree offered: Master of Social Sciences (MSS)

Primary Disciplines: History, Political Science, and Sociology

Secondary Disciplines: Anthropology; Business Administration; Instructional Technology; Environment and Society; Family, Consumer, and Human Development; History; Political Science; Psychology; Social Work; and Sociology

Graduate Program


The program is administered by a committee of the department heads (Management Committee) from the three primary disciplines or their designees. The committee is chaired by annual rotation by one of the members of the committee, and reports to the Degree Coordinator. The Management Committee reviews policy and develops recommendations which are submitted to the Degree Coordinator for approval.

Degree Description

The social sciences are disciplines that have as a common objective the understanding of human behavior and social relationships. The MSS offers multidisciplinary graduate training for candidates desiring in-depth applied understanding of human performance, human environments, and/or the structuring of social, political, and economic systems. Students in History and Sociology typically follow the Plan B option, which requires a minimum of 30 credits. A minimum of 15 credits are required in a primary discipline, plus a minimum of 15 credits from one of the following two tracks: Track A: a minimum of 15 credits from two approved primary disciplines, with at least two courses in each secondary discipline. Track B: a minimum of 15 credits from an approved secondary discipline and a cluster, with at least two courses in the secondary discipline and two courses in the cluster. Courses counted in a cluster must be outside the selected primary discipline and secondary discipline. Three of the 30 credits required for the Plan B option must be thesis credits, but no more than 3 credits of thesis can be counted toward a degree. Departments may impose  more rigorous requirements. A maximum of 3 credits may be earned either from readings/conferences or from independent research.

The MSS degree is primarily intended to prepare degree recipients for employment or advancement in social science-related occupations. Students interested in pursuing doctoral work should consider a Plan A Master of Science program.

Admission Requirements

See general admission requirements . In addition, the faculty of each discipline determines whether to recommend to the graduate dean the acceptance of applicants. For further information, contact the Graduate Coordinator in the department of the proposed primary discipline.

Degree Requirements

Student Supervision

For each student admitted, a supervisory committee is ordinarily appointed consisting of at least one faculty representative from the student’s primary discipline and (a) one from each of the  secondary disciplines, or (b) one from a secondary discipline and one from a discipline associated with the cluster. Policies governing student supervision may vary from specialization to  specialization.

Plan B Research Paper

Each Plan B student must submit a research paper for thesis credit in accordance with School of Graduate Studies and departmental requirements. Ordinarily, the Plan B paper is written in the primary discipline, but in some cases, with the approval of the student’s supervisory committee, it may be written in one of the secondary disciplines. Information specific to each primary discipline may be obtained by contacting the sponsoring department.

Further Information

Candidates interested in pursuing this degree program may obtain specific information by contacting the head of one of the participating departments, the School of Graduate Studies, or the dean of the college containing the humanities and social sciences.

Like the MA and MS in history, the MSS degree requires a minimum of 30 credits, including 15 credits in the major discipline of history, plus a minimum of 15 credits from two approved minor areas, with at least two courses in each minor area. Accepted minor disciplines include instructional technology, environment and society, political science, psychology, and sociology/anthropology. This degree is designed for secondary school teachers who need more training to obtain licensure in additional teaching fields or who simply wish to deepen their understanding of a related field.

Degree Programs and Additional Requirements

Master’s Degree, Plan A (Thesis)

The thesis option should be taken by anyone intending to do research or enter another program for the doctoral degree. A master of arts or master of science degree can be completed with this option.

The program consists of 30 semester credits beyond the bachelor’s degree, 6 credits of which must be in thesis research. Students must take HIST 6000 , as well as either HIST 6010  or HIST 6020 , or another theory-intensive course approved by the director of graduate studies. Students may apply a maximum of 4 internship credits earned while working in an archive, for a museum, on the staff of a scholarly journal, or as a teaching intern in an upper-division undergraduate course.

The remainder of the 30 credits may be taken as electives in history or relevant courses in other departments.

Upon arrival at USU, students are urged to meet with the departmental graduate advisor, who will direct them to one or more faculty members with similar interests. Through consultations with the graduate and faculty advisor, the first-year student will form a thesis committee and formulate a course of study. By the end of the first year, students will have submitted to their committees a proposal for the thesis, which they will write under the close supervision of the committee members. The oral defense usually takes place in the spring semester of the second year.

Master’s Degree, Plan B (Nonthesis)

A nonthesis master’s program can help a student attain employment in many areas, but is not recommended for students planning to secure a doctorate. A master of arts, master of science, or master of social sciences degree can be completed with this option.

The Plan B program consists of 30 credits beyond the bachelor’s degree. The course requirements are identical to those of the Plan A program, except that only 3 thesis credits are permitted.

Students completing the Plan B program do not write a full length thesis. Instead, Plan B students write a research paper of approximately 30 pages in length and submit a portfolio of their graduate writing, which includes two additional and distinct pieces of writing. Students defend their Plan B research papers and writing portfolios before their major professor and the members of the supervisory committee. Final approval of the Plan B rests with the department, rather than with the School of Graduate Studies.

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