The PhD program consists of several milestones together with limited advanced course requirements.
Students are required to take four semester of PhD level seminars, fulfill a cognate requirement, complete successfully a qualifying and comprehensive examination, develop and write a doctoral dissertation, and to defend the dissertation before a doctoral committee.
Students admitted to the PhD program ordinarily would have completed a course of study equivalent to the Master's degree program. Students may be admitted to the PhD program without such a background, but they will be expected to complete the required background during their first year of PhD coursework. All students must take the qualifying examination at the end of the first year. The examination is written with no outside aids (closed book, closed note) during a one-day examination period, and will cover the contents of the Master's degree program of study.
The PhD program consists of 18 credits of survey methodology and cognate courses, including the four-semester doctoral seminar sequence typically taken in both the first and second year. Seminars are jointly taught by faculty from the social and statistical science areas. The first seminar introduces the doctoral student to areas of integration of social and statistical science approaches in the design, collection, and analysis of surveys. The second develops and refines doctoral student skills in survey methodology, particularly toward identification of research problems, specification of hypotheses/theorems to extend current understanding of the field, and planning for original research in the field.
It is during the second year course of study students will identify a specialty area within survey methodology and elect courses in the area. At the conclusion of the second year of study, students who have successfully completed the qualifying examination must complete the comprehensive examination. The examination is designed to assess whether a student has sufficient knowledge and creativity to complete a dissertation. The comprehensive process will consist of a written research proposal and an oral examination. Students successfully completing the comprehensive examination will be advanced to candidacy, typically at the beginning of their third year of study.
Candidates will, with the ongoing guidance of a doctoral committee, propose and conduct dissertation research that leads to an original scholarly contribution. All doctoral committees will be interdisciplinary, drawing members with backgrounds from a social and a statistical science disciplines, regardless of the students area of interest.