PhD Program


First Year of Doctoral Study: The first year of the program focuses on coursework and preparation for the Comprehensive Exam to be passed at the end of the academic year. The examination covers the major fields of the proposed research. A detailed Dissertation Proposal is part of the examination requirements.

In the first year each student will take during the Fall term one 4-credit course along with one 2-credit course, as mandatory. Students are also required to register for and participate in the non-credit departmental colloquium. In the Winter term one 4-credit methods course, and a 2-credit PhD research seminar are required. Two credits are awarded in the Spring term for proposal writing. The remaining 8 thematic course-credits in both terms are to be acquired through a selection of elective courses from the PhD program’s elective course list, independent study, or from a wide range offered within the MA program at the department. Students are encouraged to choose courses, which relate to their broadly defined fields of interest. Enrollment for all the MA program elective courses requires the written permission of the Director of Doctoral Studies. If the MA course is a 2-credit course, the instructor will be responsible for assigning specific additional work for the PhD student, which may take the form of a longer paper or other specific assignment.

By the end of January doctoral candidates will be expected to choose a PhD Supervisor, consult with him or her on the selection of elective courses, and begin to assemble the faculty committee for their Comprehensive Exam. The PhD Supervisor will be the chair of the Comprehensive Exam Committee and direct the PhD dissertation. The PhD Supervisor must be a member of the department or hold a joint appointment in sociology. The other members consist of a faculty member from the department or the wider CEU community. An external member (to CEU) is encouraged but not mandatory.

At the beginning of the Winter term (January 31) all first-year PhD students are expected to submit 1000 words Comprehensive Exam Statement explaining the main themes of the exam and the first draft of the topics/fields the Annotated Bibliography will cover. In consultation with their PhD Supervisor, and members of their Examination Committee (see below), doctoral candidates will follow a Tutorial for the Bibliography in the Winter term to compile their 80 item Bibliography. This Bibliography should explicitly define the major themes and sub-fields for which the student will be responsible in the examination. All first year students will also participate in a PhD Research Seminar in the Winter term. On May 15th students will have to submit together with the Bibliography, a Draft Dissertation Proposal of their thesis, of 3000 words length. Revisions will be made based on formals comments candidates receive from the DC.

By mid-June a written take-home exam will be proposed to the students. It will include two questions and the students will have 48 hours to complete it. The first question will be common to all students; the second question will be related to their own research and will be proposed by the first supervisor. Both questions required a 1000 words answer. The grading scheme will be: pass with distinction/pass/fail.

On August 1st, students are expected to submit their final Dissertation proposal of 5000 words in length and their Review Essay (5000 words) .The review essay is a critical review of state of the art research in the candidate’s two main fields, preferably the intersection of the two. The analysis is not geared towards the candidate’s main research question;that is ideally done in the proposal.

Students will sit for their Comprehensive Exam normally at the beginning of the Fall term (during the zero week or during the first week of class). The student is examined on the basis of a set of themes as outlined in the Exam Proposal and the Bibliography. In developing the set of themes/problem areas, the student may use the dissertation topic as a nucleus around which she/he arranges the themes in concentric circles (from middle range topics closely related to the thesis topic to one of the fundamental problem areas in sociology/socio-cultural anthropology). Alternatively the student may select a set of middle range themes/problem areas which have preoccupied scholars in dealing with the two disciplinary sub-fields chosen by the student. Taken together the themes/problem areas and the Annotated Bibliography (80 substantive titles) should cover theoretical debates and show awareness of both methodological approaches as well as research findings in the sub-fields which are indispensable for the pursuit of the PhD project under consideration. The student should be able to relate developments in the two chosen sub-fields to larger scholarly debates in the discipline and be able to demonstrate competence in dealing with thematic issues in a broad comparative perspective. The design of the Comprehensive Exam is to be developed in close consultation with the PhD Supervisor and the Director of Doctoral Studies. The Review Essay, the Bibliography and Thesis Proposal should receive preliminary approval by the Doctoral Committee and be submitted to the Comprehensive Exam Committee prior to the exam. The Doctoral Committee may invite the supervisor of the PhD student to its meeting. All members of the Comprehensive Exam Committee must formally approve the Thesis Proposal. In addition to the examination related to the two fields as outlined in the Comprehensive Exam Statement and Annotated Bibliography, the students must be prepared to answer questions on the Thesis Proposal too. Satisfactory completion of all requirements in the probationary year will formerly admit the student to PhD candidacy in Sociology and Social Anthropology.


Comprehensive Exam at the beginning of Fall Semester (zero week or first week of class)

Second year of Doctoral Study (Research period): Normally, following formal doctoral candidacy, the next period will be devoted to research. Students have a number of options in carrying out their research, depending upon their special requirements. They may elect to spend the entire year collecting data, undertaking intensive fieldwork, survey research and/or working in archives and libraries while maintaining contact with a regional university through one of their external committee members or through a special institutional arrangement between the CEU and another institution of higher learning. Candidates are strongly encouraged to pursue empirical, archival or field based research and will therefore be granted exemption from the principal requirement of residency in Budapest. The candidates have to submit a request to the Director of Doctoral Studies. For the duration of their stay away from Budapest, candidates are required to maintain regular contact with and report on their work in progress to their supervisor at the department. They are also encouraged to be affiliated with an academic institution of higher learning in the country where they are conducting research and visit it periodically during their absence from Budapest. Students will be expected to consult their PhD Supervisor at least twice a year and to make a formal report on work in progress at the end of each academic year spent away from CEU. Students receive 4 credits in each of the three terms for research and 2 credits each term for consultation for a total of 18 credits, for which it is their responsibility to register. If regulations are not fulfilled, the candidate will be deemed to have not met the requirements for passing to the 3rd year of study.

In addition, CEU generally supports an additional fourth year or at least an additional semester of (non-degree) studies to be spent at an internationally respected, large university. This additional time normally is to be inserted into the standardized course of studies after the second year. CEU has additional funds for up to six months to support studies abroad as appropriate. Students may seek funding for studies abroad from other sources and may participate with their PhD projects in international research groups affiliated or not affiliated with CEU. The Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology supports students in applying for such funding and extending the research period. Students who whish to pursue extended fieldwork, archival research or primary data collection, are encouraged to seek external support for their research. The specific rules for study abroad are explained in detail in Section 2 of these Guidelines.

Third year of Doctoral Study: After completing their research and study abroad, doctoral students are required to return to CEU for two terms, primarily devoted to writing their PhD dissertation in close consultation with their supervisor. All students will participate in the mandatory PhD Research Seminar. At this seminar each student will formally present his/her dissertation and preliminary results to the PhD Program Director, who organizes the seminar, and the PhD Supervisor who is expected to attend the seminar of his or her advisee. In addition students will be required to serve as teaching assistants in a master's level course in order to acquire teaching experience. Each PhD candidate will be assigned to a specific course according to the shared or overlapping interests between the PhD dissertation topic and the topic of the course. Teaching assistance consists of regular participation in the course, independent teaching of at least one unit of the course in agreement with the professor or leading discussion or discussion groups within the course. Teaching assistants may be asked to present aspects of their own work that is relevant to the course, to help students with first drafts of class papers or the class work in general, or other possible assignments depending upon the needs of the course, the PhD candidate and the professor.

In the third year, students will receive 4 credits for each of the three terms for dissertation writing, 2 credits for teaching one term, and 2 credits for the PhD Research Seminar. The total for the third year is 16 credits.

Over the course of three years the program requires a total of 56 credits. In addition, when resident in Budapest, all doctoral students are requested to regularly participate in the Departmental Seminar. The Seminar focuses on the discussion of topics and literature of interest to faculty and doctoral students.

The student who successfully completes the program will be awarded a Doctorate in Sociology and Social Anthropology. The degree is accredited by the New York State Board of Regents of the State of New York (US)