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Application Requirements & Instructions

Your application to the graduate program contains many different parts. Below is the list of requirements to complete your application online through ApplyYourself. It is your responsibility to ensure your application is complete and correctly submitted with all required supplemental documents.

It is best to begin the application process about one year before you plan to start graduate school. The departmental deadline for completed applications is December 15. Submit your application early to allow time to correct any errors discovered by you, the Graduate School, or the sociology department prior to the application deadline.

The Department of Sociology only offers a fall start. If you do not select a fall start date in ApplyYourself, your application will not be received or reviewed.

Personal Statement

Why do you want to study sociology at the graduate level? Provide a personal statement of your professional objectives that clearly indicates your goals and commitment to sociological training. Your personal statement should be one to two pages.

Your personal statement is evaluated for its written quality as well as for its clarity of your professional goals. Please use the questions below to craft your research statement, which you should upload under Statements #1. You do not have to answer every question but do choose the questions that will give us the best sense of you as a sociologist.

  • Why have you chosen to apply to the University of Minnesota? What you want to accomplish by receiving a PhD in sociology?
  • Why is sociology attractive to you as an intellectual discipline? How did you become interested in the field? What does sociology offer you that related disciplines do not?
  • How do your interests match with the interests of department faculty? (Identify specific faculty with whom you would like to work.)
  • Specifically, what are your core areas of research/teaching interest within the field? (Your interests may change and the members of the committee know this is a common occurrence.)
  • What are some of your most sophisticated sociological thoughts? What is your grasp of sociological theory? (Provide us with a sense of your sociological imagination.)
  • Do you have deficiencies in your standardized test scores, statistics, and/or sociological theory preparation? (Self-identify the weakest area of your application and draw the committee's attention to the stronger parts of your application.)

Diversity Statement

The Diversity of Views and Experience Fellowship (DOVE) is available for incoming graduate students. The DOVE fellowship program promotes 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. If you meet the criteria of the DOVE Fellowship and would like to be considered for nomination, submit the optional diversity statement through ApplyYourself.

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 you have overcome to complete your undergraduate education (e.g. coming from a low income background or being a first-generation college student).

Upload your statement through ApplyYourself under Statements #2, and label the document "Diversity Fellowship Statement" or "DOVE Fellowship."

Writing Sample

Your writing sample gives the admissions committee insight into your intellectual curiosity and your analytic and creative abilities. An empirically-based/research-oriented paper is preferred, and the content should deal with an intellectual problem related to the social sciences. The admissions committee considers your level of abstraction, creativity, organization, sociological sophistication, and writing ability.

Writing sample requirements:
  • Sole-authored academic paper, submitted in English
  • 15 to 30 pages in length, double-spaced, 11- or 12-point font, one-inch margins
  • Uploaded to the "Program Supplementary Information" section of the ApplyYourself application

Letters of Recommendation

Please submit three letters of recommendation with your application. It is preferred that your recommenders have earned a PhD or a similar terminal degree and they should confirm your academic work and professional experiences. Send an email to your recommenders through the ApplyYourself system. ApplyYourself will provide them with directions on how to submit their recommendations electronically.

The Department of Sociology will accept recommendation letters after the December 15 deadline. You will not be penalized for the late arrival; however, if the letter is submitted too long after the deadline, it might not be considered.


Upload your unofficial transcripts from each college or university that you have attended in the “Educational Background” section on ApplyYourself. Once you are admitted, the Graduate School requires official transcripts to be submitted and approved before you are eligible to enroll.

GRE Scores

The Official Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) score is required for all applicants to the Sociology Graduate Program. Have your GRE results sent directly from Educational Testing Service (ETS) to the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities using the institutional code 6874. Official GRE scores must be sent by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to The Graduate School and received by the December 15th deadline. The Department of Sociology asks that you self-report your unofficial score reports in the "Program Supplementary Information" section of ApplyYourself. 

TOEFL Scores

All non-native English speakers are required to submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) official scores with their application materials.

The Department of Sociology does not allow exemptions for students who have studied at an English-speaking institution in the US, attended an international school where English was the language of instruction, or completed credits in residence as a full-time student at a recognized institution of higher learning in the US or another English-speaking country.

Your official TOEFL scores must be sent directly from ETS to the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, using the institutional code 6874. Please note that test scores may not be available for 4-6 weeks after you take the test. All English language test scores are valid for two years from the date the test was taken. The Department of Sociology asks that you self-report your unofficial scores in the "Program Supplementary Information" section of ApplyYourself. You may upload one electronic file that contains both your GRE and TOEFL score reports.

Minimum scores for admission eligibility:
  • 587 or above on the paper-based TOEFL
  • 95 or above on the Internet-based TOEFL
    • 27 for the speaking section
    • 24 for the writing section
    • 22 for the listening section
    • 22 for the reading section

The Review Process

Your application is reviewed by sociology’s graduate admissions committee, which generally consists of eight faculty members. The admissions committee evaluates applications in their entirety, so no one part of an application will decide an applicant's fate.

Notification of Admission

The director of graduate studies will email admitted applicants in middle- to late-January. The admittance email is followed by a formal offer letter and an invitation to a two-day campus visit event. Our graduate program associate will contact admitted students directly to coordinate a formal campus visit and provide them with necessary information. Letters regarding student-funding packages are sent by the end of January. The deadline for admitted students to notify the sociology department of their acceptance or decline is April 15.

Materials that Will Not be Reviewed

Although these appear in the ApplyYourself application, the committee will not review the following documents uploaded to the application:

  • Graduate Program Additional Application
  • Description of Research or Work Experience
  • Resume or CV
  • Honors & Awards
  • Extenuating Circumstances