University of Minnesota
Department of Sociology

Department of Sociology's home page.


Application Procedure - Applications are due by December 1.

All materials are submitted to the University of Minnesota's Graduate Admissions office via the ApplyYourself application.

Complete your online ApplyYourself application.

  1. General Time Line for Application
  2. Personal Statement
  3. Diversity Statement to be considered for the Diversity of Views and Experiences (DOVE) Fellowship
  4. Writing Sample
  5. Recommendation Letters
  6. Transcripts from each post-secondary school attended.
  7. Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
  8. TOEFL information for International Prospective Students - Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores, if a non-native English speaker. (This requirement includes students who have studied at an English speaking institution in the U.S.)
  9. Finalizing and submitting the application
  10. The Review Process
  11. Notification of admission
  12. Materials that will not be reviewed
  13. Department Admissions Standards and Statistics
  14. First year funding: CLA Graduate Fellowships and Diversity of Views and Experiences (DOVE) Fellowship.

1. General Time Line for Application

It is generally advised that applicants begin the application process about one year before they plan to start graduate school. To be considered for admission, fellowships and assistantship allocation, the departmental deadline for the receipt of completed applications is December 1.

Note, although applicants are prompted within the ApplyYourself application form to choose from among various program start dates (e.g., Spring 2011), the department of sociology offers only a fall start. Therefore, if any option other than a fall start date is selected, there is a chance that an application will not be received and that it will not be reviewed.

2. Personal Statement

Statements vary tremendously in content; only you know how you came to be interested in sociology and what you want to accomplish by receiving a Ph.D. in the discipline. Nevertheless, all statements should contain some basic information. The admissions committee should be informed of why you want to study sociology at the graduate level. You should be specific about your core areas of research/teaching interest within the field (do not worry if your interests end up changing; the members of the committee know this is a common occurrence). If your research interests are not yet formed, at the very least, you should convey why sociology is attractive to you as an intellectual discipline. You might also think to include a paragraph about what sociology offers you as a discipline that related disciplines do not. Based upon your statement, the Admissions Committee will try to evaluate whether sociology seems like the right "home" for you—will you be able to accomplish what you want to accomplish through sociology. In your statement you should also attempt to reveal some of your most sophisticated sociological thoughts, your grasp of sociological theory, and a sense of your sociological "imagination." The statement will be evaluated for its written quality as well as for its clarity of professional goals.

The admissions committee carefully reviews all materials submitted. The committee members look for evidence that applicants have the academic preparation and skills necessary to succeed in the program, and that the program can offer the training specific applicants desire. In keeping with the latter, the admissions committee evaluates how well applicant's interests match with the interests of department faculty. Applicants should identify specific faculty with whom they would like to work and some idea about the areas of sociology in which an applicant has interest, so the committee can evaluate the department's ability to offer training in those areas.

Provide a one or two page personal statement of your professional objectives that clearly indicates your goals and commitment to sociological training. This statement could address potential deficiencies in your standardized test scores, statistics and/or sociological theory preparation. It is also the place for you to indicate how you fit in with the program and why you chose to apply to the U. of M. department. Provide information about the schools for which you submitted transcripts, as well as your standing within your graduating class (if helpful to your case).

The Graduate Admissions Committee evaluates each applicant's prior academic performance including the location, quality, and strengths of the applicant's undergraduate and/or graduate program(s). The undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of recent top applicants has been 3.6 on a 4.0 scale. Graduate applicants typically have GPA's of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale. If your GPA is not of this quality it will behoove you to address this deficiency in your personal statement. The Committee also evaluates applicants' scores on the general test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Considering average scores received by applicants admitted in prior years, the department prefers students with consistent verbal and quantitative scores of 160 or better, and analytical scores of 5.0 or better.

3. Diversity Statement - Diversity of Views and Experiences (DOVE) Fellowship

The DOVE fellowship program seeks to assist graduate programs to promote a diversity of views, experiences, and ideas in pursuit of research, scholarship, and creative excellence. This diversity is promoted through the recruitment and support of academically excellent students with diverse ethnic, racial, economic, and educational backgrounds and experiences.

By submitting the optional diversity statement with the The Graduate School's ApplyYourself application, applicants self-identify themselves as meeting the criteria of the DOVE Fellowship and position themselves to be recommended by the Sociology admissions committee to be nominated by the Director of Graduate Studies to a University-wide competition. In past years, students applying to the Department of Sociology have received a number of these prestigious DOVE Fellowships.

The diversity statement should discuss how your background, experiences, and achievements will contribute to the University's goal of promoting excellence through diversity. If applicable, your statement should mention hardships or obstacles that have been overcome to complete your undergraduate education (e.g. coming from a low income background or being a first-generation college student).

The fellowship provides students with free tuition, pays up to 95% of the student's health insurance costs, and includes a stipend (currently $22,500 per academic year). DOVE Fellows also have the opportunity to come to campus during the summer before the start of their first year and participate in The Community of Scholars Program.

4. Writing Sample

The Writing Sample should be a sole-authored academic paper submitted in English. An empirically based (i.e., research-oriented) paper is preferred, and the content should pertain to the social sciences. The written works most often submitted are term papers or Master's theses. Your written work should deal with an intellectual problem related to the social sciences and should demonstrate your analytic abilities. It should not be a book review or a summary of others' thinking. Faculty evaluators will consider the level of abstraction, creativity, organization, sociological sophistication, and writing ability.

Papers should be, at a minimum, 15-pages in length, and at maximum, 30-pages in length (of substantive content). Papers should be double-spaced and in 12-point font with one inch margins. The writing sample can be uploaded in the "Program Supplementary Information" section of the ApplyYourself online application.

5. Recommendation Letters

Three letters of recommendation are required. Meet with potential recommenders to ask for letters of recommendation to be written. It would be wise for you to provide them with your statement of professional objectives so that your comments are complimentary and relate to each other. Applicants are encouraged to provide recommendations from people who can confirm the applicant's academic abilities. The Sociology department neither stipulates certain requirements that must be included in the recommendation letter nor requires any standardized assessment forms to be completed by your recommenders. Recommendation letters should be submitted electronically via the Grad School's online application system, ApplyYourself. Applicants will be informed by the ApplyYourself system of what to do to ensure that recommenders know how to submit their letters electronically.

Have your recommenders submit their letters before the December 1 deadline. While completing your Graduate School Application, have the ApplyYourself system send an email to your recommenders which will provide them with directions on how to submit their recommendations electronically. The required letter of recommendation can be uploaded to the system and will be forwarded to the department of sociology. Your recommenders should have earned a Ph.D. or a similar terminal degree and will be most helpful to you if they specifically address your academic work and professional experiences.

Recommendation letters will be accepted by the department after the application deadline, and the applicant will not be penalized for the late arrival; however, if the letter is submitted too long after the deadline, it might not be considered, which places the applicant at a definite disadvant-age.

6. Transcripts

Unofficial copies of electronic transcripts (obtained from a college/university's intranet) should be submitted using the "upload document" button associated with each institution attended as indicated by applicants in the "Educational Background" section. There are specific requirements concerning what can be uploaded. For more information, please click here.

If admitted, The Graduate School will require official transcripts to be submitted and approved prior to students becoming eligible to matriculate.

Chinese students should note that in order for their transcripts to be considered official, their institutions must send transcripts directly to The Graduate School the transcripts cannot be forwarded to The Graduate School by the student.

7. Graduate Record examination (GRE)

The general test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required of all applicants to the Sociology Graduate Program.  Official general test scores of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) must be submitted to The Graduate School by all incoming students. Scores should be sent to the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities using the school code 6874.

Official GRE scores must be sent by ETS to The Graduate School so they are received by the December 1st deadline.The department asks that applicants upload copies of their (unofficial) score reports using the "upload document" button placed next to "Other Credentials" within the online application section entitled, "Program Supplementary Information."

International students should make and upload one electronic file that contains both their GRE and TOEFL score reports.Click here for recommendations on creating electronic documents that you can upload

8. TOEFL information for International Prospective Students

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) official scores, are required of all non-native English speakers.  (This requirement includes students who have studied at an English speaking institution in the U.S. or attended an international school where English was the language of instruction)

The minimum score for admission eligibility on the paper-based TOEFL must be 587 or above and the minimum score on the Internet-based TOEFL must be 95 or above (with a minimum score of 27 for the Speaking section, 24 for the Writing section, 22 for Listening and a minimum score of 22 for the Reading section). All English language test scores are valid for two years from the date the test was taken.

  • The scores should be sent directly to The Graduate School by the organization that administers the test.
  • TOEFL scores must be received directly from TOEFL.
  • The Twin Cities campus TOEFL institutional code is 6874.
  • Please note that test scores may not be available for 4-6 weeks after you take the test, and plan accordingly.
  • If you have already submitted an application and want to find out if the Graduate Admissions Office have received your official TOEFL scores, click here.

In addition to the above requirement, upon arrival in the fall, all non-native English speaking graduate Teaching Assistants (TAs) must demonstrate proficiency in spoken English appropriate to the demands of their teaching assistantship.

The most current information about the TOEFL examinations is available at the website address

NOTE: the Sociology program does not allow an exemption for applicants who have completed 24 quarter credits or 16 semester credits (within the past 24 months) in residence as a full-time student at a recognized institution of higher learning in the United States (or other English-speaking country) before entering the University of Minnesota. All non-native English speakers must submit a TOEFL score.

9. Finalizing and submitting the application

It is an applicant's responsibility to ensure that his or her application is complete and correctly submitted with all required supplemental documents. If there is reason to be concerned, applicants are encouraged to contact the Graduate School and/or the Department of Sociology to inquiry about the status of their application. If certain required application items are missing it is the applicant's responsibility to correct the problem(s) prior to the application deadline. Applications that are incomplete after the application deadline has passed are in jeopardy of not being considered for review. The Department of Sociology does not send out warnings if applications are incomplete nor will it automatically send verification when applications are complete.

Finally, ensure that all application materials have been submitted prior to the December 1 admissions deadline. It is best to submit applications early so that, if necessary, prior to the application deadline there is time to correct any errors discovered by the applicant, The Graduate School, or the department.

An application fee of $75, for U.S. citizens and permanent residents, or $95, for international applicants, is required. This fee may not be waived or deferred, even temporarily, for any applicant. The Graduate School will not process an application unless it is accompanied by the application fee. The application fee will be required via a credit card payment prior to the applicants being able to submit their applications.

*Uploaded files cannot exceed 500 KB in size and should be in .doc, .wpd, .rtf, .xls, .pdf, .docx, .xlsx or .txt format. For Macintosh users, please note that the filename must include the appropriate 3- or 4-letter extension. Also, please do not attempt to upload a document that is password-protected or that contains macros. This will cause the process to fail.

10. The Review Process

The Graduate Admissions Committee generally consists of eight faculty members who evaluate applicants. After December 1, and if an application file is complete (i.e., all application materials have been received by the department), it is reviewed by at two faculty members. After all completed applications have been reviewed, the applicants are ranked based upon the assessments of each applicant's merits. If there appears to be a large discrepancy between two faculty members' evaluations of a particular applicant, a third faculty reviewer assesses the file and a final placement in the ranking is determined.

The admissions committee evaluates applications in total, so no one part of an application will decide an applicant's fate. For example, GRE scores are important, but the committee will consider low GRE scores for applicants who submit strong writing samples or whose letters of recommendation describe remarkable strengths in the areas in which applicants received low GRE scores. In general, the best advice for an applicant is to self-identify the weakest area of the application and to then draw the committee's attention to those parts of the application that compensate for the weakness. Alternatively, one can attempt to persuade the committee of the inadequacies of an indicator for evaluating a particular poorly assessed competency. For example, if a quantitative GRE score is low, an applicant could point out high grades received in math or statistics courses, or discuss relevant quantitative research experience, as a way of arguing that the admissions committee should pay less attention to the low GRE score as an indicator of statistical aptitude. All such points can be made in the personal statement.

11. Notification of admission

Applicants admitted to the program will be notified in mid to late January via an email from the Director of Graduate Studies in Sociology.  The email is followed by a formal offer letter and an invitation to a two day campus visit event. Typically, the department helps to offset travel and visiting students are welcomed in to the homes of current students. The Graduate Program Associate, who will coordinate the formal campus visit, will contact admitted students directly and provide them with the necessary information.

Admitted applicants will also receive a formal offer of admission from The Graduate School via email with a link to an electronic letter indicating their admission.

Letters regarding student funding packages are sent by the end of January. Notification of acceptance or decline is due by April 15.

12. Materials that will not be reviewed

There is no Graduate Program Additional Application required by the department of sociology, neither is a Description of Research or Work Experience paper required nor a resume' or CV. Applicants to the PhD in sociology program should not upload documents to these areas of the "Program Supplementary Information" section of the online application.

Although made possible by the ApplyYourself application, the committee will not review documents uploaded to the application. These items will be deleted from the application:
Graduate Program Additional Application
Description of Research or Work Experience
Resume' or CV
Honors and Awards
Extenuating Circumstances

Department Admissions Standards and Statistics

The selection process is carried out in order to limit the incoming cohort such that reasonable advising relations may be maintained, graduate seminars can be kept small, and adequate financial support can be provided to all students.

No one aspect of the application material is valued more than another; the Admissions Committee seeks to gain a holistic understanding of the applicant and therefore equally considers all pieces of the application. The department evaluates prior academic performance as indicated by undergraduate GPA and the results on the general test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). The Graduate School requires for admission a cumulative GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale). However, based on average scores received by applicants admitted in recent years, the department generally chooses students with an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.5 and with consistent and strong verbal, quantitative, and analytical GRE scores. Faculty members of the Admissions Committee also evaluate letters of recommendation, written works, and applicants' personal statements. Written work is assessed according to the applicant's ability to conceptualize and articulate questions of interest to social scientists, and will consider the level of abstraction, creativity, organization, sociological sophistication, and writing ability. Additional considerations of the committee include the interest areas and strengths of our faculty compared to those of the applicant, and the quality and strengths of the applicant's undergraduate and/or graduate program(s). The following table summarizes GRE and GPA averages for the last three cohorts.

GRE/GPA Information
Cohort Year




Admissions Information
Completed Applications
Offered Admission
Entering in Fall


Additional Resources