Frequently Asked Questions
about Applying to the Stanford Sociology Doctoral Program

In the interest of treating all applicants equally, the Sociology Department at Stanford University has a firm policy of not scheduling meetings between faculty and prospective doctoral students until admissions decisions have been made. Because not all applicants who would like to visit Stanford can afford to do so, due to financial and/or time constraints, it would be unfair to have faculty meet only with those students who have the resources to visit.

Applications for admission to the PhD program in Fall 2014 will be due December 3, 2013. We do not accept applications at any other time.

Am I eligible to apply for the Ph.D. program in Sociology?
You are eligible for admission to graduate programs at Stanford as long as you have either 1: completed a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. college or university accredited by a regional accrediting association; or 2: completed an international degree that is equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree from a college or university of recognized standing. If you are not sure if your degree is sufficient, please review this list and contact the central Graduate Admissions Office if you have questions. 

How long does it take to get a Ph.D. in Sociology at Stanford?
On average most Ph.D. Students finish their degree in six years.  The department currently provides students with funding for the first five academic years, including the first three summers. It is possible to complete all the degree requirements within five years, however, some students take longer to conduct research and/or write-up their dissertation.  Review our estimated timeline.

Are there different areas of specialization within the doctoral program?
The department organizes curriculum around four primary areas of study. In addition to these areas, students may work with faculty in other Schools to gain exposure to areas such as Sociology of Education. Doctoral students are encouraged to explore a range of areas before deciding on a primary area of study.  View descriptions of the program’s primary programs primary areas of study. Examples of the varying faculty and graduate student interests can be found in their respective profiles online.  

How can I find faculty with research interests in my topic/area of interest?
Sociology faculty members have their own page on our website which highlights their research interests and select publications. Because affiliated faculty and emeritus professors are very active in our department, you should review their research as well as those of regular Sociology faculty.

What are the teaching requirements for the program?
The department requires a minimum of three quarters of Teaching Assistantship for the degree.  The majority of students complete 4 to 5 quarters of TA and many develop and teach their own courses to Stanford undergraduates.  SOC 300 - a Teaching Assistantship Training workshop – is a required course that prepares graduate students for leading in the classroom.

Can I transfer graduate work that I’ve already completed?
Students are required to transfer up to 45 quarter units (1 year) of graduate coursework that they have completed at another institution. Students are eligible to transfer coursework in winter quarter of their first year (after one completed quarter of study at Stanford).  Students in joint programs (JD/PhD or MPP/PhD) are not eligible to transfer units.

Is there an MA degree program in the Department of Sociology?
No, there is not a terminal MA program in Sociology at Stanford.  Enrolled doctoral students may be eligible for the Sociology MA upon completing 45 units of coursework if no prior graduate study was completed. 

Do I have to have an M.A. before I apply to the Ph.D. program?
No.  Applicants to the Ph.D. program are not required to have an M.A. before applying to the Ph.D. program.  On average, about half of students accepted in any given year have already completed an MA or some graduate level work.

My current degree is not in Sociology. Will this adversely effect my graduate application?
No. Applicants are not required to have a Sociology degree although a background in social sciences can be very helpful.  It is important, however, that applicants who come from another academic background understands the field of sociology and how it applies to their areas of interest. The Department of Sociology does not have specific course requirements for admission to its doctoral program.

How can I get more information from the Department regarding my interest in graduate studies in Sociology?
Please refer to the other pages on our website, the Stanford University Bulletin, and Stanford University Office of Graduate Admissions website for more information.  If you are unable to locate the information you are looking for, contact the student services office.

Back to top

Application Materials- Tests, Statement of Purpose, Recommendations etc.

See How To Apply

Do I need to take the GRE? 
Yes. The GRE is required of all graduate school applicants by Stanford University. Per University policy, GRE scores are valid for 5 years from the date of the test.  If you require additional information on GRE scores and Graduate Admissions at Stanford, please refer to the Stanford University Office of Graduate Admissions website.

When do I need to take the GRE?
It is highly recommended that applicants to the PhD program take the GRE no later than October in the year of application. This ensures that your scores will be reported to Stanford and the Sociology Department by the application deadline.  We cannot accept GRE scores for tests taken after the application deadline.

How do I send my test scores (TOEFL, GRE) to the department?
Applicants need to make arrangements with ETS to send their scores to Stanford University using the University code 4704.  DO NOT USE A DEPARTMENT CODE.  IF YOU ENTER A DEPARTMENT CODE, YOUR SCORES WILL NOT REACH OUR OFFICEThe University downloads the scores on a weekly basis. Departments and Programs access the scores electronically for the applicant file.  There is no Department code as the scores are sent directly to the University, not the department.

Do I need to take a GRE subject test?
No.  You do not need to specify a department or subject code.

What kind of GRE scores do I need to be competitive?
There is not a minimum score required for evaluation of your application by the committee. Scores are reviewed in the context of the applicant's entire file.
The Sociology Department does not keep statistical averages. Applications and test scores are reviewed and ranked by the faculty Admissions Committee on a case by case basis.

I am an International applicant who speaks and reads English.  Do I need to take the TOEFL?
Possibly.  If you have a degree from an English-speaking institution, you may not have to take the TOEFL.  All queries regarding the TOEFL must go to the Office of Graduate Admissions.

What kind of Writing Sample should I submit with my application?
The writing sample is an important component of your application.  There is not a minimum or maximum number of pages required, nor do we keep recorded averages of length.  A social sciences paper written for a class or for publication is highly desired.  A well-written extract (a few intro paragraphs and a well-developed conclusion) of a paper is better than submitting an entire thesis that isn't as well-written.

My recommender(s) cannot use the electronic option for submission of the letter (s) of recommendation.  What can I tell the recommender? 
All letters of recommendation must be submitted electronically.

I am an International student.  Where can I find more information on my eligibility, visas, and re-locating to the U.S.?
Please visit the website of Stanford’s Bechtel International Center.

Back to top

Deadlines and Application Process

How are applications reviewed?
Applications are reviewed holistically to assess their promise for teaching and research careers.  Transcripts are evaluated considering the institution, courses taken and at what level, and Grade Point Average.  Graduate Record Exam scores (Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical), letters of recommendation and statement of purpose are all considered.  Stanford places considerable emphasis on research training.  Therefore, students who are admitted have often been involved in independent research, either academically or professionally.

Should I visit the Sociology Department before I apply?

In the interest of treating all applicants equally, the Sociology Department at Stanford University has a firm policy of not scheduling meetings between faculty and prospective doctoral students until admissions decisions have been made. Because not all applicants who would like to visit Stanford can afford to do so, due to financial and/or time constraints, it would be unfair to have faculty meet only with those students who have the resources to visit.

Applicants who wish to tour the campus to learn more about the University should contact the Visitor’s Center

When is the Department deadline for submission of my electronic application?
Electronic applications are due by 12 A.M. EST on December 4, 2013.   After this time, the application system will be closed.  Late applications will not be accepted.

My test scores, letters of recommendation, transcripts, or writing sample will be late.  What do I do?
All materials for admission to the doctoral program must be submitted by December 3, 2013.  Late materials will not be accepted.

What do I do if applied to Sociology but meant to apply for graduate study in a different department?
Please contact the student services office immediately if you inadvertently applied to the doctoral program in Sociology. 

When will admissions decisions be made?
Decisions and notifications are usually made during the first week of March. 

How selective is the admissions process?
Admission to the doctoral program in Sociology is very competitive.  We typically receive around 230 applications, and admit cohorts of 7 to 10 students.

If I am not accepted, can I reapply?
Yes.  All repeat applicants must re-submit the online application and arrange with the student services office to salvage additional documents (like test scores or letters of recommendation).

Can I defer admission into the graduate program?
The Department does not typically allow deferral of admission.


Back to top

Funding and Financial Aid

Does the Sociology Department fund Ph.D.s?
The Department of Sociology provides 5 academic years and 3 summers of graduate funding. Funding includes a living stipend, tuition, and health insurance during quarters in which students are registered. The Department relies on a variety of funding mechanisms including fellowships, teaching assistantships, and research assistantships funded on faculty grants and contracts. Many of our students are successful in obtaining external fellowships and additional summers of support – typically this is working on faculty grants and contracts (regular and affiliated faculty). 

Do I need to apply separately for funding?
No. If you submit your application on time, are admitted, and accept the department’s offer of admission in a timely manner (before April 15th) you will receive funding.

Will I get Health Insurance?
In years 1-5, 100% of your individual health insurance costs will be covered (50% from the department and 50% from the Provost) in all quarters in which you are registered and supported on department funding or a fellowship.  In year 6 and beyond, the Provost continues to cover 50% of the cost of health insurance in all quarters in which you are enrolled and meet University funding requirements.

Is an application fee waiver available?
Applicants who are citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. are eligible for a waiver of the $125 application fee if they can obtain a GRE fee waiver for the current academic year. The GRE Fee Waiver Certificate can be printed from the web. Additional informant is available on the Office of Graduate Admissions website. Their direct contact information is gradadmissions@stanford.edu or (650) 723-4291.

Can I get an application fee refund?
The application fee is non-refundable. https://studentaffairs.stanford.edu/gradadmissions/applying/fee

Where do I apply?

See Apply Online

Back to top