Frequently asked questions

If you are considering graduate school, you will have many questions. We’ve provided answers to some of them below.

The Indiana University Department of Sociology does not offer a terminal M.A. degree. All students are admitted with the expectation that they will work towards the Ph.D. degree. Students who enter the program without an M.A. in Sociology (which is most of our students) will earn their M.A. degrees as they work towards their Ph.D. All applicants should apply to the Ph.D. program even if they do not currently hold an M.A. degree.

To complete your application file, we require your application, official transcripts from all colleges and universities you’ve attended, your statement of purpose, a writing sample, a minimum of 3 letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and for international applicants, TOEFL scores. International students are also encouraged to submit the International Student Financial Documentation form with their applications. Further guidance on international applications is given at https://ois.iu.edu/admissions/apply/graduate/index.html.

There is no separate form for the statement of purpose.

The official University Graduate School guidelines describe the statement as “A 300-500 word Statement of Purpose regarding your current goals, plans for your professional career, and reasons for selecting a field of study.”

When reviewing applications in our department, we would more specifically like to know why you are interested in pursuing graduate study in sociology. Tell us the kinds of sociological topics and approaches that interest you, what your career goals are, and why you are interested in our department. Other helpful information you might incorporate into your statement is whether there are specific faculty members or program areas of special interest to you and, based on your knowledge and thinking now, what research problem(s) you would hope to pursue while here.

We consider 300-500 words an appropriate length for the Statement of Purpose. We do not count words, but we do discourage applicants from submitting statements much shorter or much longer than this.

Most students submit papers they have written for courses, undergraduate theses, or reports they have prepared for paid or volunteer work.

All applicants who have not completed a graduate degree are required to take the GRE General Test.

The GRE Sociology Subject Test is not required.

Applicants whose native language is other than English and who do not hold a degree from an institution at which English is the language of instruction must also submit TOEFL scores.

We restrict admissions to students with strong academic records. In recent years, about 150 applicants have competed for 10 to 12 openings in the first-year cohort. As a very rough rule of thumb, the chances of admission are improved if: (1) your undergraduate grade point average is at least a 3.3 on a 4.0 scale; (2) your GRE scores are above the 70th percentile in each of the three categories—verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing; (3) your letters of recommendation indicate a strong aptitude for graduate study in sociology; (4) your personal statement suggests an awareness of the professional demands and rewards of a career in sociology.

If you are an international student, your chance of admission improves with a TOEFL IBTTO score of 100 or above. Please bear in mind that we examine each application carefully and idiosyncratic or unusual circumstances are taken into consideration.

The institution code for Indiana University is 1324; the department code for the Sociology department is 2102.

Indiana University is renowned for its extensive offerings in international studies and interdisciplinary programs. (Click here for more information: https://global.iu.edu/index.html). Specifically, IU has several outstanding area studies programs, including African Studies, East Asian Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Polish Studies, the Russian and East European Institute, Central Eurasian Studies, and West European Studies.

These programs are wonderful resources for students interested in comparative sociology, and many offer fellowships for students to take language classes. Advanced students in our department also have the opportunity to teach and conduct research at the University of Mannheim for one semester through a long-standing exchange program.

If you are interested in applying for a Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) fellowship, you should contact the appropriate department for application materials; the phone numbers are listed on the back page of the application packet. Because these programs have deadlines in February or March, you need to apply for FLAS fellowships as soon as you find out about your admission to the Sociology Department.

In addition, sociology graduate students with strong backgrounds in German language and culture may compete for a fellowship offered by the Department of Germanic Studies. If you believe you might qualify for this fellowship, please indicate your background in German in the personal statement of goals that is part of the application materials.

During the first year of graduate study, students typically take six courses, many of them required for the Ph.D. During the Fall semester, most students will take S558 (Research Methods) and either S540 (Sociological Theory) or S530 (Introduction to Social Psychology).

During the Spring semester, most will take S554 (Statistical Techniques in Sociology I) and S510 (Introduction to Social Organization) and will participate in the Sociological Research Practicum —which offers an opportunity to work hands-on with a faculty member on a continuing research project early in your graduate career.

Students also typically select other courses in their areas of interest during the first year. Entering students who have already earned their M.A. degree will pursue a slightly different program of study, depending upon their previous coursework.

Have additional questions?

Please do not hesitate to contact:

Saundra Daggy
Graduate Administrative Assistant

Professor Pamela Brayboy Jackson 
Director of Graduate Studies