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Comprehensive Portfolio of Competencies

Advancement to candidacy requires Ph.D. students in Sociology to successfully pass formal coursework with a grade of B or higher.  Before proceeding to the dissertation proposal defense, committee members also must approve a portfolio demonstrating the practical skills necessary to be a professional Sociologist.  This portfolio must contain evidence of competence in each of the following: 

  1. be a participant in the ongoing scholarly dialogue;
  2. review and evaluate the academic work of others;
  3. teach at the undergraduate and graduate college level.

Each portfolio must demonstrate:

  1. professional level proficiency;
  2. substantive knowledge not limited to the particular topic of the dissertation;
  3. theoretical and methodological knowledge necessary to understand the inter-disciplinary nature of the Sociology Ph.D.


  1. While it is recommended that faculty advisors review portfolio contents as they are being created by the student, the formal evaluation will not be made until the portfolio is complete which typically will occur in the semester after formal coursework is concluded.
  2. The portfolio must demonstrate competence in a primary as well as a secondary substantive area.  This includes demonstrating not only knowledge of the substantive content of each specialty area chosen but also understanding of the theory and methods associated with the area.    
  3. It is expected that the contents of portfolios will contain the items listed in each category (below).  Any substitutions must be approved by the committee chair, in consultation with the other members of the committee. 
  4. Completed portfolios must be made available to Sociology Department members for at least two weeks prior to their final approval.
  5. Faculty members evaluating a portfolio element as insufficient must give the student specific grounds for this evaluation as well guidelines for what must be done for the element to be judged sufficient.  If a re-submitted portfolio is again judged as insufficient the student will be asked to withdraw from the program. 
  6. The portfolio will be finished when committee members approve all portfolio elements and sign the portfolio approval form.
  7. Upon approval of the portfolio the student will proceed to the dissertation proposal. 


Competencies to be Demonstrated

I. Being a participant in the ongoing scholarly dialogue:

Professional Sociologists are a community of scholars engaged in a dialogue. While taking many forms,  a primary site of this dialogue is in professional publications. To demonstrate this competence the portfolio must contain: 

  1. A 2-3 page statement of research interests.
  2. Evidence of a professional presentation at a regional or national conference.
  3. A review of the literature in the primary specialty area.  This review should demonstrate understanding of the entire scholarly literature in that area. It  also should serve as the theoretical backdrop for the dissertation.  Use the model of articles from the Annual Review  of Sociology.
  4. A research paper of publishable quality.  The student must be the sole author or the first author.   

II. Reviewing  and evaluating  the work of others

Being a member of the community of scholars requires reviewing the work of others and giving advice for how this work could be made better.  To demonstrate this competence, the portfolio must contain: 

  1. A review of the key books in the second specialty area (chosen in consultation with committee members).  While the review should contain a brief synopsis of the theoretical, methodological and substantive content of each of these books it should focus on comparing and contrasting  them as well as discussing the types of theoretical, methodological and substantive issues they raise.  Use the model of “Review Essays” in the Journal of Contemporary Sociology.

III. Teaching

Scholars most often also are teachers.  Effective teachers have knowledge of the subject matter as well as an understanding of how this knowledge can be effectively transmitted.  To this end the portfolio must contain: 

  1. A 2-3 page statement of teaching specialties and pedagogical approach.
  2. A detailed and annotated syllabus for a seminar-style graduate course in the primary specialty area.  Include a brief justification for why each article would be assigned, a description of student assignments with justifications for their pedagogical value, and lecture notes for at least three class sessions. 
  3. A  detailed and annotated syllabus for an upper-division undergraduate course in the secondary specialty area.  Use journal articles, rather than a textbook.  Include a brief  justification for why each article would be assigned, a description of student assignments with justifications for their pedagogical value, and lecture notes for at least three class sessions.
  4. The syllabus, teaching evaluations and a 1-2 page reflection on an undergraduate course actually taught.

Note:  Students who have not yet taught their own course must include elements 1-3 in their portfolio.  It is expected that all students will teach at least one course before receiving their Ph.D. degree.