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I am a PhD student in CS. I am also interested in the humanities and I would like to pursue a PhD in sociology. I know the traditional way is to repeat the cycle starting from undergrad studies but that would require a lot of time (which I do not have, given that I have other concerns).

Is this possible (ideally online)?

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  • Have you talked to a supervisor to see if they are interested?
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Dec 22, 2019 at 13:29
  • @SolarMike I couldn't find a program available in my country in that rergard! so I am just looking for any international program that could help me get what i want in less time. I did a lot of research but to no avail! Commented Dec 22, 2019 at 13:57
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    Why do you need a PhD degree in the humanities? An online program (if you could find one) would be of no use professionally (in any profession). Just study as much sociology as you like. Online courses are a possibility. Commented Dec 22, 2019 at 14:12
  • @Ethan Bolker "of no use (in any profession)". You can't be serious. Unless you think that secondary education and librarianship don't count as professions, to mention two obvious ones to start. On another note, sociology is not in the humanities. It's a social science.
    – Philly
    Commented Jan 28, 2020 at 1:21
  • Meta discussion pertaining to this. (CC@EthanBolker)
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Jan 29, 2020 at 8:25

3 Answers 3

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No, there's no legitimate way for you to get an online PhD in sociology (which is a social science, not humanities, but eh, lables are silly anyway), at least not with the profile you describe. You are also extremely unlikely to be considered for a normal sociology PhD programme. Speaking as a member of a sociology department, you quite simply do not have the background in the method and theory of the discipline needed to produce PhD level work. Just like I don't have the tools to suddenly do a CS PhD, you don't have the tools to do a sociology one. Successfully applying sociological theory and producing competent, critical analysis, not to mention data collection itself, is actually extremely difficult. You can't just casually pick it up. It recently took me 8 months and 40 pages of evidence just to get ethical approval to start a sociology project...

What you can consider is a taught one year masters programme in sociology, either in the UK or elsewhere. Some of them are available online and some are willing to admit students without a sociology undergraduate degree if they can articulate why they are making a disciplinary shift. Mine wouldn't accept you with an undergrad in CS without a strong focus of that CS research being sociological in nature, but others might.

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It sounds like what you might be looking for is a PhD in the field of computational social science, which can best be described as using computing modeling and analysis to address social science questions. Unfortunately, the field is fairly new so there simply aren't a lot of PhD programs in it. The major reputable one that I'm familiar with is at George Mason (PhD in Computational Social Science) and UC Davis has a Designated Emphasis in Computational Social Science which seems to require admission it an allied PhD program (e.g., social science, economics, computer science, etc.). There are also some interdisplinary PhD programs out there that have extremely flexible requirements, but then you need to do extra work to have a committee and publications that establish yourself as a scholar.

Online PhDs are extremely rare, although it seems to be more common for PhD candidates to transition to remote study once all of the on campus requirements have been met (i.e., coursework, qualifying examinations, etc.).

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I'm a sociology major, and I'll be beginning a sociology PHD in 2022. Most sociology departments prefer if you did a BA in sociology, but any Humanities degree would get you entry. If you apply with a STEM degree, then you can still get into a program — you just need to show that you have appropriate background knowledge in the area. I would advise you just buy books on social issues. Buy books on race discrimination, especially anti-black discrimination, since due to the recent BLM protests this is a hot topic. Also, read books on gender discrimination and read books on classism. If you have the time, write blogs with mostly academic references on sociological issues such classism, racism or gender. Since you're a CS major, writing about biases arising in A.I. machine learning endeavors would 100% get you entry, since that is a hot topic at the moment.

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  • Made some edits to improve clarity. For example, I had to re-read the sentence "If you have the time right blogs with mostly academic references ..." because I thought this was suggesting the OP read the appropriate blogs, especially those with mostly academic references, and then the sentence ended in a way that didn't make sense until I started reading it over again, this time assuming "right" was intended to be "write". Commented Aug 21, 2021 at 15:30
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    I doubt this will suffice. Commented Aug 21, 2021 at 15:44
  • I know the professors in the sociology department relatively well for a student. They all told the same thing depends on what university you go to Commented Aug 22, 2021 at 22:11

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