Admission Requirements

Congratulations—you are taking the first concrete steps toward pursuing a PhD! Below we outline the academic requirements and materials you'll need in order to apply for admission to the Department of Sociology graduate program.


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. Applicants are accepted for fall quarter only.

College Transcripts

Official transcripts of all college work is 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 our system. Paper transcripts are not acceptable. You will be instructed to upload scanned copies of your transcripts after you have submitted your online application.

The UC Davis Graduate Studies office offers more details.

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 your academic interests.

Undergraduate and previous graduate career experiences

These most often include any or all of the following:

a) Research you conducted on sociology-related themes. Indicate with whom you worked, what your responsibilities were, and any outcomes;

b) Important paper or thesis project you completed, as well as anything scholarly beyond your curricular requirements;

c) 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

Describe 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.

a) Describe 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.

b) Describe how your research interests parallel specific professors in our department.

Be succinct. You have only 4000 characters for this statement.

Personal History Statement

What should your personal statement accomplish?

 The personal 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!


  1. Things that the admissions committee will read between the lines: self-motivation, competence, and creative potential as a graduate student.
  2. Include examples; do not simply say that you are a persistent person, show it.
  3. Your statement should say everything with brevity. You have only 4000 characters for each statement.  

Example of Your Written Work

The online application requires you to upload 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. (Essays by international applicants must be in English.)

Three 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.

Graduate Record Examination Scores

Please include your percentile as well as your raw GRE score. The Department of Sociology does not require scores from the advanced sociology examination, although you may have them sent if you wish. Scores must be for GRE testing completed during the past five (5) years. Please ask the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to submit your scores electronically as part of your online application. Call ETS at 609-921-9000 for assistance or more information.

UC Davis Institutional Code: 4834

Fellowship Application

All applicants must complete the 'Online Fellowship Application' for Graduate Students by the deadline of December 15. Note: On the first page of your online application, please check "yes" in response to question 4, which asks if you are interested in applying for fellowship funding.

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 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 schedules of examinations.