We offer two options leading to the MA degree: the thesis option and the research review paper option. The thesis option involves twelve-course credits and a research-based thesis. Students choosing the research review paper option are required to complete eighteen-course credits and write a major paper based on a critical review of a body of literature.
The thesis is an empirically-based research paper. Empirical is construed broadly to include a variety of data including quantitative, qualitative, discourse/text-based, historical/comparative, and so forth. You can collect your own data or use secondary analysis.
Students are expected to carry out the original research project planned in their proposal and report the results in appropriate thesis form. The thesis should demonstrate originality and understanding of the topic. These are typically 120 to 150 pages long, plus references.
If you are using human participants, attention should be paid to the Senate Policy for the Ethics Review Process for Research Involving Human Participants. This policy states that all university-based research involving human participants, whether funded or non-funded, faculty or student, scholarly, commercial, or consultative, is subject to the ethics review process. Students should, therefore, familiarize themselves with (i) the Senate Policy for the Ethics Review Process for Research Involving Human Participants and (ii) the SSHRC/NSERC/CIHR Tri–Council Policy Statement Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans.
Research Review Paper Option
The RRP is intended as an opportunity for you to assess and evaluate the existing sociological research and theoretical literature pertaining to a particular topic of interest. It is to be based on a broader engagement with the literature as opposed to a deliberately focused research endeavor that addresses a narrowly specified research question and comes to a conclusive answer (as is done in the thesis option).
The end result of the RRP may vary depending on the approach you have adopted. For instance, it may involve the development of a set of new research questions that are well-grounded in the debates or questions you have identified from the existing literature. Alternatively, the end result may be the development of an initial exegesis (i.e. a critical interpretation, explanation, or exposition) and preliminary development of a working argument based on what you have read. Third, it may be an exposition of how different theories explain a particular sociological issue/problem. This typically involves some comparing and contrasting of these perspectives as well as some evaluation or assessment of the state of the literature (which theoretical perspective seems the best or most promising and why?).
The Graduate Program in Sociology at York is an exciting environment to pursue innovative, socially engaging, career-ready education. Contact our Graduate Program Assistant to learn more.