If you are considering graduate school, you will have many questions. We’ve provided answers to some of them below.
- Should I contact faculty before applying?
Generally, all substantive questions should be directed to the Director of Graduate Studies. There is no need to contact other faculty before applying to our program, nor are there advantages to doing so. Admissions decisions are made collectively by the Director of Graduate Studies and a committee of faculty who consider the submitted application materials, not by individual faculty. And, students only choose advisors after they are well established in the program (after passing the qualifying exam). Further, all faculty in our department are open to advising students enrolled in our program.
Of course, contact with faculty is an important part of deciding on a graduate program after being admitted. Faculty will be in touch with admitted students by phone and meet over Zoom. Admitted students are also invited to a visit day in the Spring where they will come to Bloomington to meet faculty and graduate students in person.
- Should I apply to the M.A. or the Ph.D. program?
The graduate program offered by the Department of Sociology is a doctoral program. We do not offer a terminal Master’s degree. In other words, we do not offer a stand-alone Master’s program for students who want to earn only a Master’s degree. All students enrolled in our program are working towards a Ph.D. degree. Earning a PhD in our program requires earning a Master’s degree. Most students earn their Master’s degree as part of the broader process of acquiring their Ph.D. Other students enter the program with a Master’s degree from another institution.
Please note that our online admissions system operate somewhat differently for applicants with and without a prior master’s degree. Those without a Master’s degree apply through the portal labeled “MA program,” while those with a Master’s degree apply through the portal labeled “PhD program.” While labeled differently, both online portals are for admission to the PhD program in sociology.
- What, exactly, are the supporting materials I must submit with my graduate application (whether online or on paper)?
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, and for international applicants, TOEFL scores.
- Is there a separate form for my Statement of Purpose; how long should it be, and what should it include?
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.
- What should I submit as a writing sample?
Most students submit papers they have written for courses, undergraduate theses, or reports they have prepared for paid or volunteer work.
- What exams do I have to take to apply?
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.
- What are considered acceptable GPA, GRE and TOEFL scores for admission to the program?
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.
- What are the institution and department codes for GRE and TOEFL reporting?
The institution code for Indiana University is 1324; the department code for the Sociology department is 2102.
- What resources are available for international study or research?
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.
- What kinds of courses will I take in the first year of graduate study?
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.