PhD Programs

PhD Program in Sociology or Anthropology

Simon Fraser University offers an excellent environment for research and graduate studies. The institution is home to a variety of world-class research facilities, innovative programs, and world-renowned scholars.

Here are some reasons to study with us:

  • We offer a firm disciplinary foundation in sociology and anthropology. 
  • We provide opportunities and support for community-engaged, collaborative research with diverse populations local, nationally and internationally. 
  • We provide outstanding supervision and work collaboratively to tailor the program to our student’s unique goals. 

The work from our students is wide-ranging. Our faculty has particular expertise in social theory, research methodologies, social justice and community-based research, gender and sexuality, political economy, and social control. We provide individualized support for student’s research interests. Please take a look at the research topics of our current graduate students.

The majority of our PhD graduates have gone on to full-time employment in academia, including tenure-track positions at University of Ottawa, University of Alberta and University of Glasgow, and full-time teaching positions at Douglas College and Capilano University. Learn more about our alumni here.

Visit SFU's Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies website for more information.

Department Requirements

Take a look at SFU’s requirements for Doctoral Programs (1.3.7a)

Our specific departmental requirements are:

  • For PhD programs you must have a strong background in the discipline that you are applying to.
  • Research interest related to a faculty member who will be willing to supervise you. See below for details.

Are you an international or US student? Visit Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, International Applicants to find information regarding English requirements and other topics.

Language Requirements

English is the language of communication at the University and instruction in most programs. Students whose primary language is not English must have a demonstrated command of English sufficient to pursue graduate studies.

International applicants will not be required to submit an English-language test if they have completed a degree at an institution where the language of instruction and examination was in English, in a country where English is the primary language. Please see Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, International & English Language Requirements for more information.

Please note that English-language waivers/exemptions are very rarely granted and typically only under exceptional circumstances. The applicant’s overall English-language experience must be demonstrably robust in order to be considered.

The following may be considered as valid reasons for an applicant to receive a waiver/exemption. Documentation attesting to the below should be uploaded as additional documents to the applicant's online application. Please note that documents received via email prior to an application being started through the proper channels (i.e. through the online application portal) will not be reviewed.

  • Extensive experience working/volunteering/living in a predominantly English-speaking country
  • Extensive post-secondary English-language schooling in an English-speaking country, but not a full degree
  • Publications where the applicant is the first/primary author in peer-reviewed English-language journals
  • Publications (book chapters, whole books, similar) in English where the applicant is the first/primary author
  • Evidence of expired but well over-minimum English-language test results, along with any of the above (this alone cannot be used for a waiver)

Program Overview

PhD programs in sociology and anthropology offer students a comprehensive foundation in social theory in each discipline, substantive courses in areas of research interest, and rigorous training in research methodologies. The programs are designed to facilitate and support completion of the PhD within six (6) academic years (18 terms).

The first two years of the program (terms 1-6) are devoted to completion of coursework, qualifying examinations, and dissertation prospectus development and defence. The remaining four years (terms 7-18) are spent conducting research and completing the dissertation.


  Fall Spring Summer
Year 1 SA 840 Graduate Seminar
Elective 1
Elective 2 SA 897
Qualifying Exams
Year 2 SA 897
Qualifying Exams
SA 899
Thesis Research & Writing
SA 899
Thesis Research & Writing
Year 3-5 SA 899
Thesis Research & Writing
SA 899
Thesis Research & Writing
SA 899
Thesis Research & Writing
Year 6
SA 899
Thesis Research & Writing
SA 899
Thesis Research & Writing
SA 899
Thesis Preparation & Defence


All graduate students must attend and actively participate in the Graduate Seminar (SA 840) during the first term of their program.


Sociology and anthropology students are considered to be full-time students, and must pay full-time fees, regardless of the number of course units for which they are registered.


Simon Fraser University requires graduate students to be enrolled every term unless they have applied for and received authorization for a leave of absence.


The minimum requirements for completion of the PhD degree program are:

  • Completion of required and elective course work:
    • One (1) term-long required professional development Graduate Seminar (SA 840)
    • Two (2) term-long elective courses
  • Successful completion of two qualifying examinations (SA 897);
  • Preparation and public defence of a dissertation research prospectus; and
  • Completion and public defence of an original PhD dissertation (~250-300 pages, inclusive of bibliographies, appendices, and tables).


Elective courses (2) should be chosen in consultation with the student’s supervisor and be appropriate to the anticipated dissertation research and the student’s discipline.


Regular full-time tuition fees for the research-based PhD program is $2,066.11 CAD per term for the 2023-2024 academic year.
International graduate students pay the same fees as domestic students.

For further details, refer to Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, Tuition and Fees.


The Department of Sociology and Anthropology has a small budget of funds for entrance awards to assist students during their time in the program. Within the confines of this budget, the department is committed to providing minimum funding ($28,000 per year for four years) towards incoming PhD Students. Scholarships may be available and graduate students may apply to be a TA/TM each term.

The PhD minimum funding policy can be viewed here. Financial commitments are made on an individual basis and the terms of funding support will be set out in the offer or admission letter that student receive.

With respect to financial support, department policy and practice is to make financial awards available to the largest number of students possible. Thus, all students who meet the eligibility critera for an award are strongly encouraged to apply. Applicants are encouraged to review the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, Scholarships and Awards website for additional information.

The following sources of entrance funding are available for eligible incoming students:


A small number of entrance scholarships are available annually for incoming students. These are competitive awards given to the best incoming graduate students for full-time graduate study.


GFs are one-term grants from Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies that are awarded to qualifying students based on status in the program, availability of other funding, and merit. As a practice, the department tries to ensure that all eligible MA students receive at least one GF over the course of their studies.


All graduate students in the department are eligible to be employed as TAs and/or TMs. Employment as a teaching assistant is a valuable opportunity for professional development that graduate students are encouraged to take advantage of. PhD students are assured of one TA/TM position during their studies. While many graduate students work as TA/TMs throughout their studies, employment during any particular term is not guaranteed. TA/TM positions are available in the fall and spring terms, however TA/TM positions are limited for summer terms.

For more information, please visit Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, Entrance and Scholarships Awards.

Finding a Supervisor

PhD applicants are strongly encouraged to contact faculty members whose research interests align with their own. While you do not have to secure a supervisor prior to applying the program, there must be a faculty member available who has similar research interests and is willing to supervise you as a graduate student.

  • Please note that securing a supervisor does not guarantee an offer of admission. Applicants must meet all other university and departmental requirements.
  • All applications are assessed individually and offers of admission are based on the strength of each application, faculty expertise and availability, and departmental resources.

Contacting a Potential Supervisor

Once you've identified one or two potential supervisors, you should contact them by email.

Here are some items to include in your initial brief contact email:

  • Your name
  • Ask them specifically if they are accepting new graduate students for the coming academic year
  • Why you wish to pursue graduate studies
  • Academic background (your CGPA must be over 3.25, or equivalent)
  • Academic awards or highlights
  • Research experience
  • Why the faculty member's area of research will match with your research goals (cite the faculty member's publications if relevant)
    • Make it clear that you are familiar with their work and how their research interests mesh with your own (if there is a research idea in one of their papers that you would like to explore in your work, explain that briefly)
  • A research proposal, if appropriate

Application Period

goGRAD is currently closed for applications. Late applications are not accepted

The application deadline for the Fall 2024 cohort is FEBRUARY 1, 2024.

goGRAD will open for Fall 2024 applications on October 16th 2023.

*PhD programs in Sociology and Anthropology are designed to be completed within 18 consecutive terms (or six full academic years) commencing in the Fall of each year. Applications to start the PhD program out-of-cycle (i.e. in the spring or summer terms) are not possible.

Ready to Apply?

You will be asked to submit the following information and documents to your online application:

  • Your curriculum vitae (CV), including scholarly work
  • A statement of interest and prospective research topic (~1 page in length, clear and concise)
  • An academic writing sample (e.g. an academic paper or article for which you are the first author)
  • Contact information for three (3) academic references
  • All post-secondary transcripts

Upon receiving an offer of admission: 

If you receive an offer of admission, you will be required to submit any official academic transcripts sent directly from the institution to Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, either by mail or email.

By mail:

c/o Central Stores Mail Room, for
Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies

Maggie Benston Student Services Centre 1100
Simon Fraser University
8888 University Drive
Burnaby, British Columbia
Canada V5A 1S6

By email:

SFU's email address for receipt of electronic transcripts is


  • Please note that we are unable to provide information as to the “chances” of any potential applicant receiving an offer of admission in the absence of a complete application submitted through the proper channels (i.e. through the online application portal, NOT via email).
  • Applicants must meet both the minimum University admissions requirements as well as the admissions requirements for the Sociology & Anthropology department, and submit a complete application (including payment of the application fee*) to the online application portal by the deadline to be considered for admission. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered. Please note that payment of the application fee does not guarantee an offer of admission.
    • It is the responsiblity of the potential applicant to determine if they meet the admission requirements prior to submitting an application and paying the application fee.
  • All applications are assessed individually and offers of admission are based on the strength of each application, faculty expertise and availability, and departmental resources.

*Requests to have the application fee waived will not be granted.


SFU students who wish to transfer to the PhD program in sociology and anthropology must:

  • Have an SA faculty member who agrees to supervise them;
  • Submit a statement of their proposed PhD research (as well as their courses/CGPA in their current programs, if applicable);
  • Work with their SA supervisor to develop a study plan.

The supervisor, in consultation with the GPC, will determine if additional courses are required.

The student's time in their current program will count towards the program length in SA.
Funding is not guaranteed if extra terms are needed to meet the SA program requirements.

Finally, the transfer requires approval from the GPC and the department.

Transfer Application Form


Want to talk to a current Sociology & Anthropology graduate student? Check out the SFU Sociology & Anthropology community on Discord. Connect with other members and enjoy free voice and text chat.

If you have any questions that are not answered on our website, please contact the Program Assistant by email at Long distance phone calls will not be returned.