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How to Apply

University campus in spring

Prospective graduate students must apply for admission through the Graduate School at the University of Utah.   Students are admitted only to work toward the M-Stat in Sociology or the PhD in Sociology (although a master's degree may be earned during the course of PhD study). We do not consider applicants seeking only a Master’s Degree in Sociology. All applications to the PhD program will be considered for funding.

  Application Deadlines

Applicants to the PhD program must submit all required application materials on or before February 1. Except in extraordinary circumstances, students may enter the PhD program only during Fall term. Applicants that do not wish to be considered for funding may apply after the deadline of February 1 but no later than July 1. A late fee may be assessed by the Admissions Office for applications arriving after April 1.

 Applicants to the M-Stat program are encouraged to submit their application materials by February 1, but may apply throughout the year since they are not eligible for funding and can petition to start the program in Spring or Summer terms.

 The Graduate Committee in the Department of Sociology will review all application materials and make recommendations for admission to the department faculty. Upon final approval by the Sociology faculty and the University of Utah Graduate School, the Director of Graduate Studies will notify applicants of their admission status, as soon as possible and typically before April 15.

  Online Application

Applications must be submitted electronically through the ApplyYourself website:                                                         

graduate admissions
apply yourself

No admission decisions can be made until the application with all accompanying documents are submitted. The Admissions Department recommends that applications be submitted thirty to sixty days in advance of the department's deadline.

  Minimum Requirements

The requirements listed below are minimum requirements only and do not guarantee admission to a graduate program at the University of Utah.

 An undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0, based on all undergraduate work or work completed during the last two years (i.e., 60 credit hours) of undergraduate study

  1. A bachelor's degree from a fully accredited college or university
  2. Approval of the faculty in the Department of Sociology
  3. Approval of the Graduate School

 International students must submit additional documentation, such as a TOEFL exam to assess English language proficiency. International applicants should consult the university’s Admissions Office web site.

   Admissions Criteria

Admission to the graduate program in sociology requires a strong undergraduate foundation in sociology or a related field from a fully accredited college or university. Student’s qualifications, interests, and previous experiences are evaluated through three letters of recommendation and a personal statement. Applicants must also submit official scores from the GRE exam, transcripts from previous universities or colleges, as well as a writing sample.

  • Statement of Purpose: A brief (three-page maximum) statement outlining your present sociological interests and goals, your academic and career interests, and any additional information that might be helpful in evaluating your application.
  • Official Transcript(s): Request one official transcript from each college and/or university (except the University of Utah) attended, regardless of length of attendance. The transcript will be uploaded to the ApplyYourself online system.
  • Three Letters of Recommendation: Request letters from three endorsers. Endorsers should be able to speak of your academic ability and promise as a graduate student. If the applicant has a baccalaureate in sociology, at least one of the endorsers should be a faculty member from the applicant's sociology program. Endorsers should not be relatives, personal friends, or religious leaders. Each endorser should fill out a personal reference form via the ApplyYourself system.
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE): Applicants should enter both the score and percentile associated with their Quantitative, Verbal, and Writing subscores into the online ApplyYourself system. Official scores and percentiles should also be sent directly by the Educational Testing Service. School Code: 4853 Department Code: 2102. Scores cannot be more than 5 years old.       Applicants must ensure that they complete the GRE exam prior to the application deadline.
  • Writing Sample: Applicants are given the opportunity to submit an original piece of writing, typically a paper they wrote as an undergraduate student, to show their writing and critical thinking skills. (optional)


Admissions decisions are made based on the full packet of materials submitted. The faculty in the Department of Sociology tend to prioritize applications from candidates who have a strong well-rounded set of experiences that indicate their potential success in a graduate program, who have research interests that are closely aligned with the two program areas in which we offer training, and for whom we believe we can effectively mentor under the skills and expertise of our existing faculty. Potential applicants are encouraged to review the faculty profiles and are invited to contact current faculty members prior to preparing an application:


The department cannot waive or cover application processing fees.



  Students admitted to the Sociology PhD program are typically offered departmental funding (i.e., stipend, tuition waiver, and subsidized health insurance), in exchange for their service as teaching or research assistants. Students admitted to the M-Stat in Sociology are not typically eligible for departmental funding. Funding decisions are made upon admission and are based on meritorious achievement as outlined in the admissions application.

Doctoral students are eligible to receive up to 5 years of funding during fall and spring semesters (it is limited to 4 years for those who have completed a previous graduate degree), assuming they make satisfactory progress in their academic requirements each year, as well as perform the expected duties and obligations of their assigned job. Each year, during an annual evaluation process, the faculty in the Department of Sociology will assess each student’s performance. Students who exhibit poor performance may be ineligible for funding in later years.

 Additional details can be found in the Department of Sociology Graduate Handbook:


 Students may also be eligible for scholarships, fellowships, and grants to support their research. The Office of Research Administration within the College of Social and Behavioral Science is a good resources to find extramural sources of funding . The Graduate School regularly updates its website with listings for both internal and external funding opportunities.



Student Expectations

Graduate students should be familiar with all expectations, requirements, and policies associated with each graduate program. The Department of Sociology Graduate Handbook provides a comprehensive review of all program requirements, expectations, and resources:




In addition to the handbook, students should regularly consult the Graduate School Policies and Guidelines located at the Graduate School website.

 graduate school website

 campus lawn with students lounging and studying

Graduate school policies and requirements


 university of utah student handbook



PhD Program Requirements

The PhD program requirements are designed to be completed in 5 years. Doctoral students should track their progress through the program requirements with the following worksheet: [link to milestone tracker document]

  • The Program of Study refers to the coursework and credit hours required by a graduate program. PhD students must be in residence at least two consecutive semesters, complete a minimum of 14 credit hours of SOC 7977 “Dissertation Research,” and successfully finish all required courses including Proseminar, Professional Development Forum, Social Theory, Research Methods, Stats I, Stats II, Research Ethics, Teaching in Higher Education, at least three elective seminars, one course in advanced methods/stats, and several self-directed courses related to exam preparation and the completion of other program milestones. All courses must be passed with a letter grade of B or better.


  • The Comprehensive Area Exam evaluates the students’ ability to demonstrate a commanding knowledge of the relevant theories, methods, and current research literature in a substantive area, one of the department’s two areas of emphasis (Global Comparative Sociology or Population & Health). It is a written exam in which students have a 72-hour period to write 3 to 4 distinct essays. Students will be given an approved reading list to help them prepare for the exam. A committee of faculty, comprised of the faculty associated with each program area, will grade exams awarding the student one of the following grades: fail, marginal pass, conditional pass, pass.   The Comprehensive Area Exam is typically taken at the end of spring semester during year 2.


  • The Third Year Research Paper is an independent research project in which a student produces a publishable-like manuscript that contains empirical analysis. Students will typically work on this project over two semesters (fall and spring) of their third year, after they have successfully passed their Comprehensive Area Exam. The student will select faculty mentors to serve as the Primary and Secondary Reader.


  • Prior to starting the dissertation-related requirements, the student must form a Supervisory Committee. The Supervisory Committee consists of five faculty members, the majority of whom must be regular faculty in the Department of Sociology. The chair of the committee must be a core faculty member in the Department of Sociology. One member of the committee must be appointed from a department other than Sociology.


  • The Qualifying Exam is a series of projects related to establishing one’s own research agenda, and when completed, mark the important transition from a doctoral student to a doctoral candidate. The Qualifying Exam is typically completed before the end of year 4. It includes two components: The research proposal outlines a detailed plan for a dissertation project, as well as a clear description of how the project is framed within and contributes to the literature associated with that topic. The first part of the document includes an extended analytic literature review. The second part of the document will include a clear statement of the research question(s), a description of the methodology including a description of the data or data collection plan as well as how the data will be analyzed, and a proposed timeline for a dissertation project. Students are required to discuss the written research proposal during an oral defense that is approximately two hours in length. During this defense, the Supervisory Committee will ask questions about the literature review to ensure the student knows the relevant literature deeply and broadly. The Supervisory Committee will also ask the student to justify the proposed research design and offer critique and suggestions on how to improve the research design. Once the Supervisory Committee is satisfied (i.e., awards a “pass” on the qualifying exam), the student is free to complete the dissertation research.


  • A dissertation is the final requirement of a doctoral degree (PhD). A dissertation is an original piece of research that provides evidence of a student's ability to conduct an independent investigation. A dissertation should make a unique contribution to a specialized field of knowledge in Sociology. To complete this final requirement, students will prepare a written manuscript called a thesis, and pass an oral examination called the final It is typically completed during Year 5.


M-Stat Program Requirements

M-Stat students should track their progress according to the M-Stat guidelines:

master of statistics in sociology

  • The Program of Study refers to the coursework and credit hours required by a graduate program. The M-Stat in Sociology requires the successful completion of 37 credit hours, consisting of courses related to the research foundations and theories within the discipline of Sociology, Math/Statistics, and an independent research/capstone project.


  • The Research Project is an independent research experience in which a student produces a publishable-like manuscript that uses statistical analysis to answer a specific research question within the traditions and theoretical perspectives of Sociology. The paper should be of a scope that can be completed in one year given the students’ current capabilities, access to data, and any other resources needed to complete the project.    


Annual Evaluation

Graduate students in the Department of Sociology are expected to (a) pass the requirements of any course in which they enroll, (b) meet the expectations and milestones of their graduate program, (c) adhere to standards of academic honesty, and (d) uphold the professional and ethical standards of the discipline.


All students in the sociology graduate programs are required to complete a self-evaluation each spring (by April 1st). This self-evaluation focuses on the accomplishments and progress of the student for the past academic year, with specific attention paid to whether or not s/he has successfully completed program requirements that keep him/her on track and in good standing in the program. [Link to Self-Eval Form]


During this evaluation period, faculty members consult the self-evaluation forms submitted by each student, as well as additional documentation including: official grades, teaching evaluations (if applicable), online grad tracking system, and written and verbal assessments from any faculty member in the department. Funded students will also be assessed on their performance as a TA, GA, or RA, as evaluated by the faculty member who supervised their work. Typically by mid-May, each student will receive an evaluation letter containing:


  • A review of the student’s progress, performance, and achievement of academic goals
  • Advice for what the student should focus on in upcoming years
  • Specific timelines and expectations, if the student is deficient in any regard
  • An evaluation of the student’s performance as a TA, RA, or GA, if funded as one of these job classifications
  • Status of the student’s funding (if applicable), including if they will receive funding from the department for the following academic year (including how much), as well as the number of years of remaining TBP eligibility the student has.


The annual evaluation process is intended to provide constructive feedback and specific advice for students. Most students receive positive and laudatory evaluation letters. However, students receiving less-than-satisfactory evaluations may be at risk of losing funding, being placed on probation, or dismissed from the program.

Last Updated: 4/11/18