Graduate Program Admissions

The Department of Sociology and the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Is this the graduate program for you?

Degrees and Career Goals

Program Requirements

Forms of Financial Support

Application Deadline


How to Apply

Frequently Asked Questions re: Admissions

Is this the graduate program for you? If your career goal is a Sociology or Community and Environmental Sociology teaching and/or research position at a good college or university or an applied social research job, your best option for superior training is the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The Department of Sociology and the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology conduct a combined graduate program designed to prepare students for scholarly research, teaching, or applied work. With over 60 faculty and affiliated faculty, all major areas of sociological inquiry are represented in the curriculum. We consistently rank at or near the top in studies of U.S. sociology doctoral programs. Thriving research projects in many areas provide valuable training. Your colleagues will be other outstanding students, and your training and support will come from each other as well as from the faculty.

Our program is unique in integrating what are often separate programs in sociology, community and environmental sociology, demography, and social psychology. One flexible set of requirements permits students to create individualized programs to suit their particular interests and goals. Some students work entirely within one subspecialty, while others create a broad and diverse course of study for themselves. Both quantitative and qualitative research are done and respected in our program, and we represent a wide variety of theoretical traditions. We are known in the discipline for our climate of civility and openness which creates an exciting and diverse intellectual atmosphere. top

Degrees and Career Goals: Most students in our program are working toward a Ph.D. (including the completion of the master's degree as part of their work or receiving a waiver of our MS requirements based on previous work). We admit students who intend to complete a Ph.D. However, some of our students decide, upon completing their master's requirements, that they will stop at that point and pursue research or other jobs in the public and private sectors. Our Ph.D. graduates can be found in academic teaching and research, and in research or administrative posts in government and the private sector. top

Program Requirements: For the Master's Degree: Graduate course work (24 credits in Sociology or Community and Environmental Sociology) and a master's thesis are required. The course work includes requirements in statistics, methods, and theory. Upon completion of the requirements, MS candidates take a two-hour oral exam. For the Ph.D. Degree: Courses in advanced statistics, methods, and theory are required, along with four graduate seminars in sociology. The student must also complete a minor in an area (or areas) outside Sociology and Community and Environmental Sociology. Additional courses are selected according to the student's interests. Two six-hour written preliminary exams and an oral prelim must be completed before the student becomes a dissertator (ABD). Dissertators may work with the many data sets available in connection with faculty research projects, or they may collect their own quantitative or qualitative data. A final oral defense is held upon completion of the dissertation. See the Graduate School Guide for more information. top

Forms of Financial Support: Our graduate students receive support toward their graduate studies through research assistantships, project assistantships, teaching assistantships, lectureships, traineeships, and fellowships (from outside agencies or from the university). The Department guarantees five continuous years of funding to all admitted students, starting in the fall of 2011. The Advanced Opportunity Fellowships program is designed to expand graduate education for U.S. underrepresented students. See Funding. Note for international applicants: Due to U.S. immigration law, international applicants must complete a financial statement which shows sufficient funds to support themselves for their first year in the program, plus show the intent for funding to continue through the duration of study in the U.S. before an I-20 can be issued. After admission, check your application status on Oasis, located on your online Graduate School application, for the status of your financial resource verification. See the Graduate School's International Applicant Financial Information for cost estimates to attend UW-Madison. top

Application Deadline: The Department of Sociology admits students into the PhD program in the Fall only. Applications can be submitted beginning September 1. The application deadline is December 15. This date is our departmental deadline to receive all application materials requested in the Graduate School's electronic (online) application and in the Sociology Supplemental Application included within the Graduate School's online application. Documents arriving past the deadline may cause your application not to be reviewed. top

Qualifications: A Sociology undergraduate degree is not required. Your sociological interests should fit our program and we encourage you to thoroughly investigate our program and other programs before you apply. The admissions committee evaluates complete applications and does not base its decision solely on GPAs, GREs or TOEFL scores (see Graduate School Admission Requirements, English proficiency requirement). If your grades and test scores are weak, you will need to present other strong evidence of your abilities (e.g., references, writing sample, statement of reasons for graduate study). The Graduate Program of the Department of Sociology and the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology rarely admits students with TOEFLs of paper-based (PBT) scores below 620, computer-based scores (CBT) below 260, or internet-based scores (iBT) below 105. We accept scores from the current GRE General Test and from the GRE revised General Test. Concordance information will be available when scores are received. Please check the GRE website for further information about the revised test. The Graduate School requires a minimum 3.0 GPA. top

How To Apply:

PROVIDE the required application materials as indicated:

  • Official Transcripts Official transcripts will be requested from the Graduate School. You will receive an email from the Graduate School with instructions on how to send your transcripts. Please do not send official transcripts to the Department of Sociology or the Graduate School until requested.
  • Three letters of recommendation, submitted through the Graduate School electronic application form. See the Graduate School web link for instructions. We prefer recommendations from academic sources. If you find it necessary to send paper letters, use the same address as for transcripts (see above). More than three letters may be submitted, if needed.
  • GRE test scores are required of all applicants. Please indicate that test scores be sent to UW-Madison, school code ETS #1846. To find out whether your scores have arrived, check your Graduate School electronic application; go to the Test Scores section at the bottom of the page, where your scores will appear. (see FAQ #4)

    Note that the Educational Testing Service (ETS) has a fee reduction program for people demonstrating financial need. This program offers a limited number of GRE Fee Reduction Certificates on a first-come, first-served basis to college seniors and college graduates who meet income eligibility requirements. The certificates may be used for one GRE test and will cover 50% of the test fee. Applicants wishing to take advantage of the fee reduction must contact the financial aid office at their undergrad institution, find out whether it participates in the ETS fee reduction program, and then demonstrate eligibility. Eligibility is determined by information on the Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR), which contains data reported on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), as well as National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) financial aid history information. More information is available here:

  • English proficiency test scores (TOEFL, MELAB, or IELTS) for international applicants. See Graduate School Admission Requirements, English Proficiency. Request that test scores be sent to UW-Madison, school code ETS #1846. To know whether your scores have arrived, check your Graduate School electronic application, the Test Scores section at the bottom of the page, where your scores will appear. (see FAQ #5)

1. COMPLETE and SUBMIT an electronic application on the Graduate School website. Due to the way information is handled electronically, indicate either Sociology or Community and Environmental Sociology on your application form. DO NOT APPLY TO BOTH. If your intent is to receive a Ph.D. degree, then choose Sociology, Ph.D. (see FAQ #3). Upload your statement of reasons for graduate study in the Statements section.

2. COMPLETE and SUBMIT the Sociology Supplemental Application. The supplemental application is located within the Graduate School electronic application, under the tab, Supplemental Application. Select Sociology and submit the requested materials and respond to the questions

NOTE: You may submit the Graduate School electronic application before completing two sections, and only these two sections, 1) the recommender, and 2) the supplemental application. You may re-enter these two sections, and only these two sections, at any later time, keeping in mind the December 15 deadline.

The following material is requested for uploading to the Sociology Supplemental Application:

  • Resume or curriculum vitae (See FAQ #10)
  • Writing sample (See FAQ #8)
  • Transcripts. Upload copies of your unofficial academic transcripts. AND, send official transcripts per the instructions above.

If your question is not answered here, email