Thank you for your interest in UCSC's Sociology Ph.D. program.
These FAQs provide answers to questions commonly asked by Sociology Ph.D. applicants. For the answers to questions that apply to all graduate admissions, and not specifically to Sociology admissions, please see Graduate Admissions FAQs.
Q. What courses are required for the Sociology Ph.D.?
Students are required to take twelve courses* as follows:A three-course core group:
- 201 The Making of Classical Theory
- 202 Contemporary Sociological Theory
- 203 Sociological Methods
- 204 Methods of Quantitative Analysis**
- 205 Field Research Methods
- 206 Comparative Historical Methods
- 209 Analysis of Cultural Form
- 241 Cross-National and Cross-Cultural Research
- 242 Feminist Research Seminar
- Psychology 248 Survey Methods, or
- 282 Social Policy Research
- 220 Global Transformation: Macrosociological Perspective
- 240 Inequality and Identity
- 260 Culture, Knowledge, Power
At least one writing course (208 Writing Practicum or 250 Course Design and Grant Writing)
A minimum of three (3) elective graduate seminars, at least one from Sociology (excluding Sociology 250 and Sociology 293).
* Students may be exempt from one or more of these courses if they have satisfactorily completed equivalent graduate-level course work at other institutions. A waiver reduces the total number of required courses (for example, if one course is waived, eleven more are required, rather than twelve).
** Students with no background in statistics are strongly advised to take an undergraduate course in statistical methods before enrolling in Socy 204, but can be admitted with permission of the instructor.
Q. How long does it take to complete the Ph.D.?
Normative time for PhD completion is seven years. Some students finish by the end of their fifth or sixth year.
Years 1-2: Complete required courses and masters paper.
Years 3-4: Write field statements and pass oral qualifying exam. The result is that you advance to candidacy. A few students advance by end of the third year, but students must advance no later than the end of the fourth year. Many students continue to take courses even after completing the coursework required during the first two years.
Years 5-7: Dissertation prospectus, dissertation research and writing, PhD completion.
Q. Is there also an MA degree program?
This is a PhD degree program. Students may apply for a non-terminal MA degree after completing the required coursework and paper, but this is not a master's program.
Q. Will previous graduate coursework or Master’s degree transfer?
An applicant who is admitted, and who accepts their offer, may request that previous graduate courses be evaluated to determine whether they satisfy any of the Sociology PhD coursework requirements. Similarly, a previous master's paper/thesis might satisfy the program's master's paper requirement.
Graduate courses do not transfer directly, but if you have satisfactorily completed a similar graduate course at another institution, you may petition for a course waiver/substitution by submitting the course syllabus; it will be reviewed by sociology faculty who teach similar courses.
You must complete this program's coursework and master's paper requirements - except those expressly approved for waivers.
A previous Master's degree does not count in and of itself as a step towards the PhD. Nor may students transfer directly from another MA or PhD program. Everyone must apply, and be accepted for admission, through the regular applications process.
Q. I work full-time and would like to keep my current position while I get my Ph.D. Is it possible to attend part-time?
This program assumes students are pursuing the PhD full-time. During the first two years, there is substantial required coursework and a master’s paper to be completed.
Additionally, sociology graduate students are expected to serve as teaching assistants for the department’s classes. A teaching assistant works up to 20 hours per week (maximum of 220 hours per quarter), on duties that include attending 2-3 lectures and leading two discussion sections per week, holding office hours, meeting with the instructor as needed, providing input for grades, and course preparation.
Part-time enrollment (or outside employment) is more common for students after they've advanced to candidacy, i.e., after they have completed the master’s requirements and passed the Qualifying Exam. Part-time students are not eligible for TAships.
Q. Do I need a Sociology degree to apply?
A Sociology degree is not required to apply. Most applicants have a degree or background in social sciences-related fields, and they have a fairly well-defined research focus. For applicants with other backgrounds, it is important to show that you're prepared for graduate studies in sociology.
Q. Do I need a Master's degree to apply to the Ph.D. program?
The basic requirement is completion of a Bachelor’s degree prior to entering the program. Many applicants do have a Master’s degree or some previous graduate coursework, but this is not required. No preference is automatically given to those with post-bacchalaureate degrees or certifications.
Q. Are there opportunities to work with faculty in other departments?
The program does offer interdisciplinary opportunities. Some students choose to take seminars in other departments and to count one or two of these towards meeting the department’s three-elective requirement.
Additionally, there are designated emphases (DE) (previously called 'parenthetical notations') offered by some departments – American Studies, Environmental Studies, Feminist Studies, Latino and Latin American Studies (LALS), Education, and Politics, among others. Specific designated emphasis requirements vary by department, but may require that a student: take a certain number of courses in the other department (in addition to Sociology’s coursework requirements); TA for the other department; write a paper; and have a faculty member from the department agree to serve as the outside member of the student’s Qualifying Exam and/or Dissertation Reading Committee.
Designated emphases are an option for current PhD students only; applicants do not apply for a designated emphasis at the time of admission. The student graduates with their PhD in Sociology and a Designated Emphasis in another field.
Q. What are the minimum/average GPA and GRE scores?
The department does not track these averages, nor has it established minimum acceptable GPAs or GRE scores. Admission is competitive, however, and each year many highly qualified applicants are denied admission. Each application is carefully considered and reviewed as a whole, and applicants with lower scores might be considered favorably when there is other strong evidence of academic promise in the entire file.
Q. How many applications does the department receive?
The department receives slightly over 100 applications each year. Cohort sizes vary, and average about five to seven new students per year. Admission offers are made to those considered highly qualified and who have the best fit with the department.
Q. Does the selection committee have a waitlist of applicants in case someone turns down an offer.
Occasionally the department maintains a short waitlist. However, a space does not automatically open when someone declines their offer. Offers are made to more applicants than the department expects will accept. Waitlisted applicants may receive an offer if there are resources available after the department knows the number of accepted offers.
The department may ask a few applicants if they wish to remain on a waitlist. If an offer can be made to a waitlisted applicant, they must first confirm that they have not already accepted another offer.
Q. Can my recommender send a hard copy letter rather than submit the letter online?
Letters of recommendation must be submitted online. Letters are not accepted in hard copy, nor via fax or email. Unsolicited materials may be discarded.
There is no need to delay submitting your application until all recommendation letters are sent. If you've listed the recommenders in the appropriate section of the application, they will receive instructions about uploading their letters. This upload can be done even if you've already submitted your application.
Q. Can materials be submitted after the December 15 deadline?
The online application must be submitted by the December 15 deadline (11:59 PST). Late applications are not considered.
There is no guarantee that any materials submitted after the deadline will be reviewed. For full consideration, the online application plus all supplemental materials (including letters of recommendation, official test scores, and transcripts) should be received by the deadline. Supplemental documents cannot be merged until you submit the basic application online.IMPORTANT HINTS
- Consider the normal time for test scores to be sent from the testing centers (see GRE and TOEFL or IELTS sites for this information) and schedule your exams early enough so that the scores arrive by the deadline. There is space on the application to self-report your scores if you know them. These can serve until the official scores arrive. Without official scores, however, your application is incomplete.
- Let Graduate Admissions know if your name on any supplemental documents might be different than on the application to insure that all your documents are merged into a single file. There is also a field on the application to show your alternate name(s).
- if you have access to unofficial transcripts, you will be able to upload these to your application for purposes of review, if you choose to. There are instructions within the application. Unofficial transcripts need to be uploaded as a single document, so if you're submitting transcripts from multiple institutions, you must first merge these into a single PDF. (To the extent possible, please orient all of them within the PDF such that the reviewer doesn't need to tilt their head sideways to read the screen.) If you're admitted to the program and accept your offer, you will be required to supply official copies of transcripts. If you upload unofficial copies, do not also submit official copies of the same transcripts. If you have access to some, but not all, of your unofficial transcripts, you will need to submit official copies of those you haven't uploaded.
Q. How do I know whether my application file is complete?
Within a few days of submitting your application, you will be assigned an ID and receive instructions to access the applicant portal. Portal access lets you monitor the status of your application and supplemental materials. Merges are done in batches, and there is very heavy volume immediately after the December 15 deadline (since many graduate programs have that same deadline), so you should expect reasonable delays before you see the merge of the supplemental documents sent directly to Graduate Applications Processing.
IMPORTANT: It is up to each applicant to track the status of their application in the portal, and to take appropriate action if they notice anything missing.
If you do notice any problems with your submission, you should definitely contact someone before the campus holiday closure. The campus will be closed from 5pm Monday December 23, 2013, through Wednesday January 1, and will reopen at 8am Thursday January 2, 2014. You will be unable to reach anyone for assistance during the campus closure. Still, it may be helpful to look in the portal during the break, since periodic processing may be done during the break.
If you are certain that materials have been sent, and you do not see these in the portal within a reasonable time (i.e., within a couple weeks of submitting the online application), you should take steps to verify the materials have been sent. First verify with the sender that the materials were sent and when. Only after doing this, should you contact Graduate Admissions. Be sure that materials were sent to 'Graduate Application Processing Center'; if the mailing address showed 'Admissions' only, your materials will likely be delivered to Undergraduate Admissions, and may not be processed.
If you notice that documents for any other applicant have been merged incorrectly to your file, please contact Graduate Admissions about the error. While this happens only infrequently, we appreciate your bringing this to Graduate Admissions' attention so that both files - yours and that of the other applicant - can be corrected.
Q. When can I expect to hear about the admission decision?
The department typically makes admission decisions by mid-February and relays its decisions to Graduate Admissions. The official offer of admission and funding is sent via email from Graduate Admissions. Admitted students have until April 15 to accept or decline the offer. The department does not provide status about decisions prior to the formal notifications sent from Graduate Admissions. Nor will Graduate Admissions give any status prior to the email notification.
Shortly after offers are sent from Graduate Admissions, Sociology faculty phone everyone offered admission to answer questions you may have about the program or your offer. You may also contact Graduate Program Coordinator Ann McCardy about your offer.
The Department will confirm whether a few applicants wish to remain on a waitlist; these applicants will not receive a notification from Graduate Admissions.
Graduate Admissions will send email notification to students denied admission. These usually follow within a few days of the admissions offers.
Q. Are students admitted in spring?
No. Applications are accepted from October 1 through December 15, and students are admitted for the following Fall Quarter only.
Q. Do I have to apply separately for funding?
No. First year funding, or other campus/department funding, is decided by the department selection committee and is shown in the offer sent from Graduate Admissions. It is important that you answer the application’s Preliminary Questions since certain of these will populate the application with pages that have funding-related questions. All applicants will be considered for department funding and campus fellowships for which they may be eligible, if they answer these questions. Funding decisions are made by the selection committee and are based on merit.
Q. Does Sociology guarantee funding for its Ph.D. students?
The admissions offer, in most cases, is for first-year funding, and may include a combination of fellowships and TAships. Some offers may include multi-year funding. The only guaranteed funding is that stated in the offer letter.
The department does, however, try to fund its full-time graduate students for the first four years through a combination of fellowships, TAships, or GSRships (Graduate Student Researcher). Funding is for the academic year only (fall, winter, and spring quarters). If available, TAships are also assigned to students beyond the fourth year. The current California budget situation has made funding projections difficult, but the department remains committed to funding graduate students to the extent possible.
Summer is not a graduate academic term, and there is no funding guaranteed during summer. Some students do receive TA positions during summer. Available positions are more limited and competitive than during the academic year. Some students are hired as GSRs during summer. But many students do not receive funding during the summer.
A limited number of campuswide dissertation-year fellowships are awarded each year to doctoral students who are within one year of completing their PhD. These fellowships offer a quarterly stipend and payment of full fees in the final dissertation year.
Q. What are my chances to get a TAship?
Most sociology graduate students depend to a large extent upon Teaching Assistantships for funding, and preference for the department TAships is given to available Sociology graduate students, at least through their fourth year. Beyond the fourth year, the department’s current TA policy gives preference to students with fewer than twelve TAships. University of California system-wide policy restricts students to a maximum total of eighteen [academic year] teaching quarters.
During spring quarter each year, continuing students submit their preferences for the following year’s TAships, and the TA offers are usually made by early summer. A new student, whose offer includes TAships during the first year, will receive the number of TA positions shown in the offer letter, however, new students do not have a choice of assignments in their first year.
During the TA application process, students also have some opportunities to apply for available TAships in other departments. Sociology graduate students are frequently selected for TAships by other departments.
The current TA salary is $5,885 per quarter ($1962 per month). Additionally, TAs receive a remission of most graduate student fees. In any quarter that a student has a TAship, the majority of fees (including health insurance fees of $965 per quarter) is paid on the student’s behalf; $5,029, of the $5,392 owed for graduate student quarterly fees, is paid directly to the university on the student's behalf. There is a balance of ~$363 that the TA must pay out-of-pocket.
It is important to note that the TA fee offset does not reduce non-resident supplemental tuition (NRT), so non-resident (out-of-state and international) students must still pay quarterly tuition ($5,034/qtr), unless their offer includes a non-resident tuition fellowship.
Summer TAs are paid at the same rate as during the regular academic year, but prorated for five-week sessions (100 hours total), instead of eleven-week quarters (220 hours total). There are two five-week sessions in summer, and students may TA for no more than one course in each session. These positions are limited and competitive. Because graduate students aren't enrolled during summer, fee offsets aren't necessary. At the current rate, the summer TA salary is $2675.
Q. Is there TA Training?
Training is mandatory for all Sociology graduate students before they TA, and is typically offered within the first few days of fall quarter. The TA Trainer is usually a Sociology graduate student who has advanced to candidacy and who has excellent teaching evaluations. The trainer continues to be available - to both new and experienced TAs – for help or advice during the remainder of the year.
Q. How does residency affect my status?
It is very important to fully answer the questions on the application about residency. All graduate students pay the same amount in graduate student fees ($5,391/qtr, $16,174/yr), but non-residents also owe non-resident supplemental tuition (NRT). Non-resident supplemental tuition is $5,034/qtr, $15,102/yr. Out-of-state students who are U.S. citizens or permaent residents may be reclassified as residents for tuition purposes by their second year, at which point they will owe no tuition.
Tuition fellowships may be part of the offers made to non-residents, but these are not guaranteed.
Some applicants are not CA residents, but may be exempt from tuition for other reasons. For more information about residency, see the Registrar’s web site. Full answers will help the selection committee make an educated guess about whether a non-resident might be eligible for an exemption from tuition (useful in terms of formulating the offer). However, an official determination of residency status is not processed unless an applicant is actually admitted.
Note: The most common NRT exemption is available to applicants who are not current California residents, but who attended three or more years and who graduated from a California high school. An applicant who claims this exemption – and who is offered admission – will need to provide a high school transcript before the fall quarter begins.
Foreign students have both graduate student fees AND non-resident supplemental tuition until they advance to candidacy. Tuition does not reduce to zero in the second year for international students (as it can for U.S. citizens or permanent residents). After advancement though, foreign students are exempt from non-resident tuition for three years. (If you do not finish the dissertation within the three year period, non-resident tuition will again be charged.)
Q. Can the application fee be waived?
A few applicants are eligible for a waiver of the application fee based upon either financial hardship or participation in a qualifying program. Pay careful attention to the waiver question in the Preliminary Questions for details and further instructions. International students are not eligible for fee waivers. Contact Graduate Admissions for waiver authorization; the department does not handle application fee waivers.
Fee waiver request forms must be received by the Graduate Admissions office at least ten days prior to the department's application deadline.
Q. May I visit the department before applying?
It is possible to visit the campus and department before applying. However, a visit does not increase an applicant’s chance of admission. The department does plan a group visit each year for all New Admits. Activities during this group visit usually provide enough information to allow potential students to make an informed decision about accepting their offer.
You may visit the Graduate Program Coordinator (Ann McCardy, firstname.lastname@example.org) without an appointment Monday to Thursday, 7am-noon and 1-6pm. The majority of questions can usually be handled via email.
If you wish to meet with particular faculty, it is best to correspond first by email. You may be able to discuss their research interests and yours via email. Some, but not all, faculty respond to inquiries. A few faculty prefer to meet applicants only after they are admitted. If the faculty member agrees to a meeting after email correspondence, it may be a good idea to confirm the appointment (via email) a few days prior to your visit. See Faculty for contact information.
Many graduate students will respond to inquiries from potential applicants. Their contact information is located on the Graduate Students web page. If you email the program coordinator with your specific interests, she may also be able to put you in touch with a few students whose interests overlap yours, and who've said they'd like to correspond with applicants.
Q. Is there a Visit Day scheduled for newly admitted students?
All applicants chosen for admission are invited to attend a New Admit Visit before the April 15 deadline for acceptance. The organized visit is typically a one-day event during which prospective students have the opportunity to meet others who may be in their cohort and to socialize with faculty and current graduate students. Visitors will meet with the Graduate Director and with their potential faculty advisors. Visits routinely include a tour of the campus and other activities applicants might find useful when finalizing their decision, such as informal tours of the Santa Cruz area or of graduate student housing.
This visit is held on a weekday when classes are in session (usually on a Monday to allow for weekend arrival). While we encourage attendance from as many new admits as possible, we realize that some people will have work, school, or family conflicts. The best time for admitted students to visit is on Visit Day, but if you are unable to do so, the department may be able to accommodate your visit at a separate time, if you give advance notice.
Some travel reimbursement is allowed, and each invitee will be told the maximum amount of their reimbursement prior to the visit. The reimbursement is based on distance from UCSC, and is offered to help offset the cost of your visit.
Q. I was not accepted last year, but would like to re-apply for the coming year. Can you tell me how I can make my application stronger.
The department does not provide this type of information. The selection committee carefully reviews all applicant files and there are always more qualified applicants that the department can admit. Only the most highly qualified applicants with the best fit to the department are admitted each year. The best advice is probably that you review your Statement of Purpose and Personal History Statement and make a compelling case about why you’re applying to this PhD program. Because applicants are reviewed relative to rest of applicants in the pool, it is possible that even a slightly different pool in a subsequent year can make a difference in your chances.
Please see the Graduate Admissions FAQs for instructions about reactivating your previous year's application.
Q. I have further questions about the program. Who should I contact?
For routine questions about the admissions process, deadlines, funding, TAing, program requirements, the campus, etc., please contact the Graduate Program Coordinator Ann McCardy (email@example.com). She is also the primary contact for the Visit Day and will handle most of the coordination, including reimbursements. Ann can also answer general questions about which faculty to contact about your research interests. You may phone 831-459-3168, though email is better. (If you phone, but reach voicemail, please leave your name, phone, email address, and briefly state your questions.)
You may email individual faculty, but not all respond to prospective applicants. If you do decide to write, you'll probably increase the chance for a reply if you include a brief, but descriptive, statement about your research interests.
Last update: June 5, 2013