Congratulations! You are taking the first concrete steps toward pursuing a Ph.D. in Sociology at UC Davis. This page outlines the academic requirements and materials you'll need in order to apply for admission to the Department of Sociology graduate program.

Admission Deadlines

New students are accepted for the fall quarter only.

Have questions about GRE scores and more? See Sociology Admission FAQs
Application Requirements
  • Prerequisites 
  • A bachelor’s degree, preferably in Sociology, is required, but a master's degree is not a prerequisite for admission to the Ph.D. program.
  • College Transcripts
  • Official transcripts of all college work are required. UC Davis requires academic records from each college-level institution you have attended. All applicants must upload PDF versions of their transcripts or academic records directly to the application system. Paper transcripts are not acceptable. 

    For further transcript questions, see Transcript FAQs on the Graduate Studies website.
  • Statement of Purpose
  • What should your Statement of Purpose accomplish?

    The statement of purpose is your opportunity to tell us, the admissions committee, about your intellectual biography and interests.

    After reading your essay, we should have a clear picture of the following: undergraduate and previous graduate career experiences; work experiences; and academic interests.


    Element Description
    Undergraduate and Previous Graduate Career Experiences

    These experiences most often include any or all of the following:

    • Research you conducted on Sociology-related themes. Indicate with whom you worked, what your responsibilities were, and any outcomes
    • Important paper or thesis project you completed, as well as anything scholarly beyond your curricular requirements
    • Employment experience related to Sociology.
    Current Employment/Volunteer Activities If you have worked since your undergraduate degree, describe what you have been doing, your responsibilities, and what you learned. If this contributed to a particular focus in Sociology, please describe.
    Academic Interests


    • What you would like to study in graduate school in enough detail to show the faculty that you understand the sociological research and are engaged with current research themes.
    • Your area(s) of interest. Ideally, pose a question, define a problem, or indicate a theme that you would like to address or questions that arise from contemporary research. Provide as many details as possible.
    • How your research interests parallel specific professors in our department.

    Be succinct. You only have 4,000 characters for this statement.

  • Personal History Statement

  • What should your Personal History Statement Accomplish?

    The Personal History Statement represents your opportunity to tell us, the admissions committee, how you arrived at this particular moment in your life.

    After reading your essay, we should have a clear picture of the following:

    1) Your intellectual motivation.  What motivates you as a scholar, and as a person?  What are you curious about?  How did these motivations and intellectual curiosities arise in your life?  Why will other people in sociology and beyond find these questions insightful and relevant? Why do you want to pursue a Ph. D in sociology at UC Davis? Why do you think you are likely to succeed?

    2) The obstacles you have overcome in order to get here. Everyone faces challenges and difficulties in their pursuit of knowledge and education. Tell us about challenges and how you overcame or succumbed to them; some failures can be more impressive than successes!

    - Things that the admissions committee will read between the lines: self-motivation, competence, and creative potential as a graduate student.
    - Include examples; do not simply say that you are a persistent person, show it.
    - Your statement should say everything with brevity. You have only 4,000 characters for this statement.

  • Writing Sample

  • The online application requires you to upload a sample of your written work. Please submit one document. Your sample may be about a topic other than Sociology but should be representative of your scholarly interests and of present and potential level of achievement. Applicants who have a master's degree may submit a copy of their thesis if they wish. All writing samples should be in English.

  • 3 Letters of Recommendation

  • Letters you submit must be from persons in a position to evaluate your scholarly potential. If possible, at least two should be from faculty with whom you have studied or worked. You must submit the letters electronically through the online application system. Paper copies will not be accepted.

    Have more questions? See Letter of Recommendation FAQs on the Graduate Studies website.

  • Graduate Record Examination Scores

  • IMPORTANT NOTE: The GRE is required for the 2023-2024 admissions cycle.

    Only the general exam is required.

    After you submit your application through the UC Davis online portal, you must upload unofficial transcripts from all college-level academic institutions you have attended. Please follow the instructions in the application and in the confirmation email that will be sent to you after you submit your application.

    The UC Davis school code is 4834.

  • Fellowship Application

  • All applicants must complete the Online Fellowship Application for Prospective Graduate Students (included in the admission application) by December 15.

    NOTE: On the first page of your online application, please check "yes" in response to the question which asks if you are interested in applying for fellowship funding.

  • Application Fee

  • Please consult the UC Davis Graduate Studies office for current application fees for U.S. and international applicants.

  • International Students

  • International students must meet the same admission requirements as United States citizens. Arrangements for taking the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), as well as the Graduate Admissions requirement of TOEFL scores, may be made through the Educational Testing Service, which has facilities throughout the world.

    Contact Educational Testing Service for information about test center locations and exam schedules.

    Additional Resources:

    - TOEFL and IELTS score requirements
    - Application information for international students
    - Services for International Students and Scholars

  • Review Procedures and Notification

  • The Department of Sociology's Committee on Admissions and Support reviews and makes admission decisions only on applications that are complete. The departmental decision to admit, deny or cancel an application is sent to Graduate Studies for final action by the Dean. Applicants with completed applications will be notified of acceptance or denial within 10 to 12 weeks of the December 15 application deadline. Applicants with incomplete applications (e.g., missing transcripts, GRE scores or letters of recommendation) will not be notified.

    For consideration of admission to graduate study and financial assistance, all application materials must be received by the dates indicated. Late applications will not be accepted.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

PDF version: 


  • Eligibility and Application
  • How many applications do you receive?

    We receive anywhere from 75 to 130 applications each year.

    How competitive is the admission process?

    We usually make 22 to 25 offers with the hope of getting a cohort size of 8 to 12. We are not allowed to re-offer admission once students decline an offer.

    What grade point average is required for acceptance?

    The UC Davis Graduate Studies requires a minimum 3.0 GPA on a 4-point scale. The average for students admitted into the Sociology graduate program in recent years is approximately 3.5.

    Is the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) a prerequisite for admission?

    Yes, all applicants must take the GRE.

    What score do I need on the GRE for admission?

    In recent years, the average GRE raw score for students admitted into the program is 150 or better in Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning, and 4.0 or better in Analytical Writing. Only the general test is required.

    Do you require the subject test for the GRE?

    No, only the general test is required.

    Is a master's degree required for admission into the doctoral program?

    You do not need a master's degree to be accepted into our doctoral program. A bachelor's degree is sufficient, as long as you meet the other admission requirements.

    How long do GRE scores remain valid?

    If your GRE scores are less than five years old, they are still acceptable. If your GRE scores are five years old, or older, you must retake the GRE. We will NOT waive the requirement for submitting GRE scores.

    I do not wish to pursue a Ph.D. degree; I want to earn only a master’s degree. Should I apply?

    We do not offer a standalone master's program. Our program is exclusively designed for students who wish to pursue doctoral studies, although you can earn an M.A. degree as part of the Ph.D. curriculum.

    What is the deadline for applying for admission?

    The application deadline for students is December 15, for the following fall quarter.

    Where should I send my transcripts?

    For the online application, you should upload scanned copies of your unofficial transcripts. After you have been admitted and have submitted your intent to register, UC Davis will require you to send official transcripts from each college-level institution you have attended to Graduate Studies. Please do not send any transcripts to the department. For more help with transcripts, see Transcript FAQs

    From whom should I seek the letters of recommendation?

    The letters of recommendation should be from persons who can evaluate your scholarly potential. We suggest obtaining letters from faculty members with whom you have studied or worked. You must submit the letters electronically through the online application system. Paper copies will not be accepted. For more help with letters of recommendation, see Letters of Recommendation FAQs

  • The Program and Curriculum

  • Do you offer classes in the evening?

    Class times are set by individual instructors. They are normally held during the morning and afternoon.

    How much time is required to obtain a doctoral degree?

    Graduate students typically need three years to complete course work and anywhere from 2 to 4 years to complete their qualifying paper, exams and dissertation.

    Does the department have a time limit for completion of the dissertation?

    Graduate students typically take two or three years to complete their dissertation research and writing following advancement to candidacy. A student who has not completed dissertation work within three years of passing qualifying examinations, however, may be in jeopardy of losing financial support from the program.

    How many faculty members does the department have?

    The Department of Sociology has 22 full-time tenure-track faculty members. We additionally have 5 affiliated faculty members.

    How many graduate students are currently enrolled in the Sociology graduate program?

    We typically have about 68 graduate students.

    What is a typical cohort size?

    Approximately 8 to 12.

  • Student Support Resources

  • What types of financial aid are available to graduate students at UC Davis?

    The department generally offers funding to all admitted students through a combination of employment and fellowships (see Financial Support). Various loans, grants and fellowships also are available through the UC Davis Financial Aid and Scholarships Office.

    What on-campus academic employment opportunities are available?

    Students in the Department of Sociology usually are offered a paying position as a teaching assistant. A limited number of graduate research assistant positions also are available depending on faculty needs. Upon advancing to candidacy, students who have demonstrated excellence in teaching may be offered the opportunity to instruct their own class.

    Whom do I contact if I have a question about residency?

    If you have any questions about residency status, contact the Office of the Registrar.

  • International Students

  • I am an international applicant; do I need to submit TOEFL scores?

    The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam is required if English is not your native language, unless you have received or will be receiving an undergraduate degree from a university at which the primary language of instruction (through the entire school) is English. The minimum TOEFL iBT (internet-based test) score for admission is 80. Applicants may need to satisfy additional minimum requirements to serve as a teaching assistant. TOEFL scores expire after two years.

    What are the Institution Codes for GRE and the TOEFL?

    The UC Davis Institution Code for both GRE and TOEFL is 4834.

    What are the graduate/admission requirements to be employed as a teaching assistant?

    Per the Office of Graduate Studies, all graduate students who have not earned a prior undergraduate degree from an institution at which English was the sole language of instruction must meet one or more of the following requirements:
    - Minimum score of 26 on the Speaking subset of the TOEFL iBT
    - Minimum score of 7 on the Speaking subset of the IELTS
    - Achieve a minimum score of 50 on the SPEAK (internal UC Davis exam)
    - Achieve a "pass" on the TOEP (internal UC Davis exam)

    Download and review the language proficiency requirements for teaching assistant positions.

Additional Questions?