Admissions FAQs


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

FELLOWSHIP ANNOUNCEMENT: Those selected for admission will be considered for any fellowship funding for which they're eligible.  We would like to draw your attention to a fellowship that may be available to some applicants depending upon your current and/or future research areas - the Genomics and Society Graduate Research Fellowship. If, based upon the information in the announcement, you think may be eligible and would like to be considered, please follow the instructions to apply.  Additionally, see Science & Justice Research Center and CBSE Research Mentoring Institute program.

Q. What courses are required for the Sociology Ph.D.?
Q. How long does it take to complete the Ph.D.?
Q. Is there a Sociology MA program at UCSC?
Q. Will previous graduate coursework or Master’s degree transfer?
Q. I am employed full-time. Is it possible to attend part-time?
Q. Do I need a Sociology degree to apply?
Q. Do I need a Master's Degree to apply?
Q. Does the program admit international students? What funding is available?
Q. Are there opportunities to work with faculty in other departments?
Q. What are the minimum or average GPA and GRE scores?
Q. How many applications does the department receive?
Q. Is there a waitlist?
Q. Can letters of recommendation be submitted as hard copy rather than online?
Q. Can materials be submitted after the December 15 deadline?
Q. How do I know whether my application file is complete?
Q. When can I expect to hear about the admission decision?
Q. Are students admitted in spring?
Q. Do I apply separately for funding? 
Q. Does Sociology guarantee funding for its Ph.D. students?
Q. What are my chances to get a TAship?
Q. Is there TA Training for new TAs?
Q. How does residency affect my status?
Q. Can the application fee be waived?
Q. May I visit the department before applying?
Q. Is there a Visit Day scheduled for newly admitted students?
Q. I would like to reapply. How can I improve my application?
Q. I have further questions about the program. Who should I contact?

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

Two methods courses:

  • 204 Methods of Quantitative Analysis**

      and one of the following eight courses:

  • 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
  • 268A Science & Justice: Experiments in Collaboration, or
  • 282 Social Policy Research

Three area foundation courses:

  • 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 a Sociology MA program at UCSC?

The sociology program at UCSC is a PhD - not an MA - program. After students complete the required coursework and master's paper, they may apply for a non-terminal master's degree on route to the PhD.

If you're interested in an MA only, many of the California State Universities (CSU) offer sociology master's programs.

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 am employed full-time. 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?

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-baccalaureate degrees or certifications.

Q. Does the program admit international students? What funding is available?

The department welcomes applications from international students.  The following information may help you decide whether to apply.

1. ENGLISH LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY:

Applicants from countries where English is not the primary language must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System test (IELTS). The minimum scores for admission are lower than those required for consideration for teaching assistantships. For admission to the Sociology program, the minimum scores are: 550 for paper-based TOEFL, 83 for internet-based TOEFL, or 7 for IELTS. To be considered for Teaching Assistantships, you must score 26 or higher on the Spoken Word portion of the internet-based TOEFL, or get an overall score of 8 for IELTS.

You should not assume that you're exempt from this requirement. Receiving a degree in an English-speaking country does not automatically make you exempt, however, you may be considered for an exemption if you've also worked as a teaching assistant.  Please contact the department if you think you may qualify for an exemption.

Most sociology graduate students depend to a large extent upon TAships for funding, so English fluency is essential.

2. NON-RESIDENT TUITION

Some international students experience financial difficulty.  International students have the same eligibility for teaching appointments; these pay a salary and a large portion of graduate student tuition.  But teaching appointments do not pay for supplemental non-resident tuition; NRT is $5,034 per quarter.  Unless covered by NRT fellowship support, an international student owes NRT every quarter until they pass their qualifying exam and advance to candidacy (usually during the third or fourth year). The department may offer a limited number of first-year NRT fellowships.  The department can nominate a few international applicants for a limited number of two-year NRT fellowships; if any of these nominees is selected, the department may include two years' NRT ($30,204 total, $15,102 per year) in the offer.  These fellowships, however, are for the first two years only, so the student would still owe any additional quarters' of NRT until they pass their qualifying exam.

3. TRANSCRIPTS

Transcripts must be submitted in the original language and with an English translation. Many institutions may use an alternate grading scale; this is not a problem.  Be sure to include at least one copy of the page that shows the explanation of the grading.

4. FELLOWSHIPS/ AID

International students have the same eligibility for departmental stipends and tuition fellowships as other applicants. They have the same eligibility for student teaching appointments.  They are eligible for Graduate Student Researcher positions (GSRships); these positions are fairly limited within Social Sciences, but they are the only graduate student employment that covers non-resident tuition, if applicable. International students are not eligible for diversity fellowships, nor are they eligible for need-based financial aid.

It is helpful if international applicants clearly show details about other sources of graduate support for which they've applied, are under consideration, or have been awarded (e.g., from their government, Fulbright or other scholarship funding). Such funding is not required, but it could help demonstrate that the applicant will have sufficient resources and is less likely to experience financial difficulties during their time in the program.  The applicant doesn't show actual proof of support until they apply for the I-20, but most consider their finances closely before accepting an offer.

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.

Some departments offer a Designated Emphasis (DE) – American Studies, Environmental Studies, Feminist Studies, History of Art & Visual Culture, History of Consciousness, Latino and Latin American Studies (LALS), Education, and Politics, among others. Specific DE 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.

Prospective applicants do not apply for a DE. A Designated Emphasis is an interdisciplinary option for continuing students who wish to broaden their background in another field (in addition to their home PhD program).

Many sociology faculty and graduate students participate in research groups with campuswide membership.  Under Sociology Research, see Research Centers and Working Groups and Research Clusters. And many participate in Institute for Humanities Research (IHR)  Centers & Projects and Clusters and Working Groups.  They also participate in multi-campus groups like UC Center for New Racial Studies (UCCNRS).

Q. What are the minimum or 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 from 100 - 115 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. Is there a waitlist?

Occasionally the department maintains a short waitlist. However, when someone declines their offer, it's not the case that a space automatically opens up for a waitlisted applicant. 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 total number and amount 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 letters of recommendation be submitted as hard copy rather than 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. 

As soon as you list 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. There is no need to delay submitting your application until all recommendation letters are sent.

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.

  • 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 may serve for review purposes until the official scores arrive. However, without official scores, your application is incomplete.
  • Official transcripts are not needed to apply. If you have unofficial transcripts, you will be able to upload these to your application for purposes of review. Only those applicants who receive and accept an offer of admission will be required to supply official copies of 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. There is heavy volume immediately before or after the December 15 deadline (since many graduate programs have that same deadline), so you should expect reasonable delays reaching Graduate Admissions or seeing the status of your application.

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 is closed after 5pm Monday December 23, 2013, and will reopen at 8am Thursday January 2, 2014.  You will be unable to reach anyone for assistance during the campus closure.

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. Before contacting Graduate Admissioins, you should first verify with the sender that the materials were sent and when.  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.

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 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 from Graduate Admissions. All applicants will be considered for department funding and campus fellowships for which they may be eligible, if they request consideration at the appropriate places in the application. 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 fullest 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 very  limited and, therefore, more 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.  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 also frequently selected for TAships by other departments.

The current TA salary is $5,885 per quarter ($1,962 per month). Additionally, TAs receive a remission of most graduate student tuition. In any quarter that a student has a TAship, the majority of tuition/fees (including the $1,052 health insurance fee) is paid on the student’s behalf.  For 13-14, graduate student tuition is $5,472 per quarter; a teaching position would cover $5,117 of that amount, and the student owes a balance of $355 in campus fees. (Some students don't owe campus fees. For students who advance to candidacy in normative time, Graduate Division will pay 6 consecutive quarters of campus fees immediately following advancement.)

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 per quarter), 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 a five-week sessions (100 hours total), instead of an eleven-week quarter (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.

2013-14 Graduate Student Fees

Q. Is there TA Training for new TAs?

Training is mandatory for all Sociology graduate students before they work in the classroom as TAs. Training 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.

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 ($5,472 per quarter, $16,416 per year). Non-residents (out-of-state and international) also owe non-resident supplemental tuition (NRT). Non-resident supplemental tuition is $5,034 per quarter, $15,102 per year.  

Tuition fellowships may be part of the offers made to non-residents, but these are not guaranteed.

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.

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. 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.

International students have both graduate student fees AND non-resident supplemental tuition (NRT) until they advance to candidacy. Non-resident 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, international students are exempt from supplemental non-resident tuition for three years. Non-resident tuition resumes if an international student doesn't finish during the three-year period.

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.  In order to submit the application, you will need to provide either the waiver confirmation or a form of payment. International students are not eligible for fee waivers.

Contact Graduate Admissions for waiver authorization; the department does not handle application fee waivers. For more information, see Graduate Admissions FAQs.

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, amccardy@ucsc.edu) without an appointment Monday to Thursday, 9am-noon or 1-4pm. 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. (Note that the office hours on web may not be those for the current quarter, so you should confirm those.)

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 would like to reapply. How can I improve my application?

The department does not provide specific details about your application. 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 Sociology Graduate Program Coordinator Ann McCardy (amccardy@ucsc.edu). 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. For more about faculty's areas of specialization, see: Areas of Research. 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: November 12, 2013