The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Fall 2014 Cohort

How to Apply

The UMass Amherst Sociology Department is 

Every year the Sociology Department enrolls between six and ten new doctoral students on the basis of the following:

  1. Application form
  2. Personal statement (no more than 3 single-spaced pages)
  3. At least three letters of recommendation
  4. A writing sample (in English, preferably 25-30 double-spaced pages)
  5. Transcripts of all previous academic study (where you earned more than 9 credits)
  6. TOEFL scores for international students

For the fall 2022 admissions cycle, the Graduate Records Examination (GRE) is not required.

We accept students with a Bachelor's or Master’s degree in a field other than Sociology, as long as they indicate how their current interests led them to apply. However, we do expect candidates to have some coursework in Sociology or evidence of familiarity with sociological theories and methods.

Please note: Though our students may earn a Master’s degree on the way to the PhD, we do not accept applications from those only interested in pursuing a Master’s degree in Sociology. (The department does have a Master’s Program in Labor Studies, with a separate application process.) Those entering the doctoral program with a Master's degree may be required to take additional courses if their training and course work do not correspond to the requirements for the Master's degree in this department.

Also note: It is not necessary to establish a relationship with a potential mentor before applying to our program. Mentors are selected in the course of graduate studies.

Application Forms

Application forms are available online. The application deadline is January 15. We do not accept applications that come in after that date.

It takes our Admissions Committee five to six weeks to process applications, so the earliest you should expect to hear from us is the end of February.

Personal Statement

Your statement should be no more than three single-spaced pages. In your statement, discuss why you want to earn a doctorate in Sociology, your research interests and experiences, and why this department would be a good fit for you. You may also spend a paragraph discussing any special skills or background (e.g., graduate-level methods course, first generation status, etc.) that may relate to your teaching and research interests. You may describe a research project you would like to undertake, or simply discuss what motivates you to pursue a Ph.D. in Sociology. If you feel there are aspects of your record that do not reflect your potential, such as your GRE scores or GPA, please explain.

Letters of Recommendation

We require at least three letters of recommendation, though you are welcome to submit more. These letters should be from people who can evaluate your potential as a scholar; they should include faculty who have taught you in college or graduate courses.

Writing Sample

Please submit an example of your written work, such as a research paper, undergraduate honors thesis, or master’s thesis. This need not be a sociological analysis, but should represent your scholarly interests and writing ability. All writing samples must be in English. Please do not send more than one writing sample. One 25-30 page paper is sufficient.

TOEFL Scores

Applicants from countries whose native language is not English must submit scores of the Test of English as a Foreign Language. See the FAQs on the UMass Amherst Graduate School’s Admissions website for details of this requirement and whether it is applicable to you.

Please see the UMass Amherst Graduate School’s Admissions website and the current UMass Amherst Graduate School Bulletin for additional requirements. Applications for admission are not reviewed until all credentials have been received and the fee is paid. According to UMass Amherst Graduate School policy, the application fee is waived only for U.S. applicants who qualify to receive a GRE fee waiver or are McNair Scholars and submit appropriate documentation. The fee or waiver documentation must accompany the application; otherwise the application will not be processed or considered.