Admissions - Frequently Asked Questions

Table of Contents

  1. When is the application deadline?
  2. What is the application deadline to be considered for a fellowship?
  3. Your graduate program comes from two departments: Sociology & Community and Environmental Sociology. Should I list both departments on my application?
  4. What GRE tests should I take, and when?
  5. As an international applicant, what test or tests should I take?
  6. What test scores and GPA are the minimum to get admitted?
  7. Is an undergraduate degree in Sociology required?
  8. What should I know about the writing sample requirement?
  9. How do I submit my Statement of Reasons for Graduate Study, how long should it be, and what should it include?
  10. Why do you need my resume or curriculum vita?
  11. Should I come to Madison to interview with the Admissions Committee?
  12. How and when does the department make admissions decisions?
  13. What are my chances of getting funded, and when?
  14. Can I transfer credits that I've taken in another graduate program?
  15. If I already have a master's degree, do I have to complete another one?
  16. What if I am admitted and then want to delay entering the program?
  17. When do you need to know whether or not I will attend?
  18. How long does it take to get a Ph.D.?
  19. Is there a separate program for those who want just a master's degree?
  20. What kind of jobs do people get with a Ph.D. from this program? What kind of jobs can you get with a master's degree in Sociology?


1. When is the application deadline?

The application deadline is December 15. This date is our departmental deadline to receive all application materials requested in the Graduate School's electronic (online) application and in the Sociology Supplemental Application included within the Graduate School's online application. Documents arriving past the deadline may cause your application not to be reviewed.

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2. What is the application deadline to be considered for a fellowship or other department funding?

You must complete, by December 15, 1) the Graduate School electronic application, 2) the Sociology Supplemental Application, and 3) official transcripts received in the sociology department office, to be eligible for the university fellowship competition and department funding opportunities.

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3. Your graduate program comes from two departments: Sociology & Community and Environmental Sociology. Should I list both departments on my application?

You must list one OR the other department and not both because of the structure of the graduate admissions database. Sociology offers the Ph.D. degree, with the master's in Sociology received along the way. We expect applicants to make their application to Sociology. The only reason for applying to Community and Environmental Sociology to have your master's degree in the name of Community and Environmental Sociology, after which your degree program is changed to Sociology for continuing in the Ph.D. program. The academic work is the same.

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4. What GRE tests should I take, and when?

We require the GRE General Test (verbal, quantitative and writing) scores of all applicants. For testing information, see the GRE website http://www.gre.org/. We accept scores from the current GRE General Test and from the GRE revised General Test. Concordance information will be available when scores are received. Please check the GRE website for further information about the revised test. Request that ETS send scores to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Institution Code 1846.

Note that the Educational Testing Service (ETS) has a fee reduction program for people demonstrating financial need. This program offers a limited number of GRE Fee Reduction Certificates on a first-come, first-served basis to college seniors and college graduates who meet income eligibility requirements. The certificates may be used for one GRE test and will cover 50% of the test fee. Applicants wishing to take advantage of the fee reduction must contact the financial aid office at their undergrad institution, find out whether it participates in the ETS fee reduction program, and then demonstrate eligibility. Eligibility is determined by information on the Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR), which contains data reported on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), as well as National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) financial aid history information. More information is available here: https://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/about/fees/reductions

GRE scores must have been taken within 5 years of the start of the semester in which you submit your application; scores older than 5 years are not acceptable. Score reporting dates can be found on the GRE website at http://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/scores/get/, so keep in mind the December 15 application deadline when choosing your test date(s). To know whether your scores have arrived, check your Graduate School electronic application, the Test Scores section at the bottom of the page. Your application will not be considered by the admissions committee until your scores have been received.

No exceptions are given for late scores. Just get them in as soon as possible.

For additional information, see the Sociology graduate program Qualifications section.

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5. As an international applicant, what test or tests should I take and when?

English proficiency (TOEFL, MELAB, or IELTS) and GRE test scores are required of international applicants. Information about the Department of Sociology and the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology Graduate Program GRE requirements can be found at FAQ # 4. We accept scores from the current GRE General Test and from the GRE revised General Test. Concordance information will be available when scores are received. Please check the GRE website for further information about the revised test.

International applicants must meet the Graduate School's English Proficiency requirement for admission to the Department of Sociology. See the Graduate School Admission Requirements for English Proficiency. The Graduate Program of the Department of Sociology and the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology rarely admits students with a TOEFL paper-based (PBT) score below 620, computer-based score (CBT) below 260, or internet-based score (iBT) below 105. For additional information, see the Qualifications section.

All scores must be received by the December 15 application deadline.Score reporting dates can be found on the GRE website at http://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/scores/get/. Keep in mind the December 15 application deadline when choosing your test date(s). To know whether your scores have arrived, check your Graduate School electronic application, the Test Scores section at the bottom of the page. Your application will not be considered by the admissions committee until your scores have been received.

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6. What test scores and GPA are the minimum for admission?

The Graduate School has set a GPA minimum of 3.0. The Graduate Program of the Department of Sociology and the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology has no strict cutoffs. Typically, the student we admit has an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.3. We prefer to see a GPA of 3.6 and above. (We know that some schools have resisted the grade inflation trend, and take that into account.) We consider a GRE score below the 50th percentile to be weak and a GRE above the 75th percentile to be good. We rarely admit students with a TOEFL paper-based (PBT) score below 620, computer-based score (CBT) below 260, or internet-based score (iBT) below 105. (We accept scores from the current GRE General Test and from the GRE revised General Test. Concordance information will be available when scores are received. Please check the GRE website for further information about the revised test.) If your grades and test scores are weak, your chances of admission are low. But there are always exceptions. Students have been admitted with lower scores when they have provided other evidence of their academic ability and aptitude for research.

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7. Is an undergraduate degree in Sociology required?

No. However, you may be required to take coursework to make up deficiencies in statistics (Sociology 360) to give you a sufficient background in preparation for Sociology 361. The statistics course would not count toward the 24 credits required for your master's degree.

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8. What should I know about the writing sample requirement?

Provide a sample that you believe represents your best work and demonstrates how you write and think, keeping in mind that it will be read by sociologists. We are flexible about what to submit, other than it needs to be in English and needs to be authored by you alone. If you believe it would be advantageous to do so, you may submit two papers. There is no requirement for length, minimum or maximum.

If your best work is in a language other than English, send it accompanied by a summary of at least two pages written by you in English and, if possible, also submit another paper you have written in English.

If your best work is co-authored and you played a major role in the thinking and writing, ask your co-author(s) to send a statement of your role in the work and also submit something else that is singly authored.

For application purposes, upload your writing sample to the Supplemental Application, Sociology, in the Graduate School electronic application. We will not accept any writing samples submitted via email or on paper.

If you have further questions about the writing sample, contact us at gradinfo@ssc.wisc.edu.

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9. How do I submit my Statement of Reasons for Graduate Study, how long should it be, and what should it include?

Copy/paste your Statement to the electronic Graduate School application, in the Statements section. We will not accept any statements submitted via email or on paper.

Maximum length is 2 1/2 single spaced pages.

We'd like to know the kinds of topics and approaches that interest you. The statement should make us understand that you are really interested in a scholarly life as a sociologist.

Helpful information to include in your Statement of Reasons for Graduate Study: Why sociology? Why Wisconsin? Are there particular faculty or program areas of special interest to you? Do you see your research interests as well-defined or fairly open at this point? Based on your knowledge and thinking now, what research problem(s) would you hope to pursue while here?

For more information about composing your statement, go to the following web page:

http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/soc/grad/purpose.php

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10. Why do you need my resume or curriculum vita?

A resume or curriculum vita, though not required, is useful when you are being considered for funding. Please summarize all relevant work or educational experiences, including skills you have and past research or writing you have been involved with that may indicate interests or abilities not obvious in your statement of purpose or other materials. You may also list the names and contact information for additional referees who can provide information about you as a teacher, researcher, or worker. For application purposes, upload a copy of your resume/CV to the electronic Graduate School application in the section, Supplemental Application, Sociology. We will not accept any resume/CVs submitted via email or on paper.

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11. Should I come to Madison to interview with the Admissions Committee?

No. The Admissions Committee does not conduct interviews, believing that making admission decisions solely on the basis of the submitted application materials is the fairest procedure. However, you may wish to make email contact with or arrange visits to meet the individual faculty in your research areas. The best time to visit is after you have been admitted, preferably on our official "Visit Day," when you will have the greatest opportunity to meet with many faculty and students. If you have been admitted but can't visit on the official Visit Day, and if you let us know in advance, we will do what we can to help you meet with a few faculty and students.

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12. How and when does the department make admissions decisions, and what weight do you put on the various items I've submitted?

A committee composed of Sociology and Community and Environmental Sociology faculty reviews complete application files in December and January. Decisions are announced in February. The committee considers applications holistically and competitively. Test scores, grades, references, and writing samples all play key roles, and applicants who are weak in one area should show strength in another. We also consider the fit between our program and your stated interests and goals. We limit projected class size to maintain a quality program and have to make tough decisions among qualified applicants.

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13. What are my chances of getting funded, and when?

The Department guarantees five continuous years of funding to all students, starting in the fall of 2011. Sources of funding will vary, and include, but are not limited to: project assistantships, teaching assistantships, research appointments, traineeships and fellowships. The department nominates a number of students with the most promising academic records for University fellowships. Generally about 5 or 6 recipients of these fellowships will accept the offer. In addition, some admitted students come in with outside fellowships, such as NSF or Fulbright awards. International applicants must complete a financial statement which shows sufficient funds to support themselves for their first year in the program, plus show the intent for funding to continue through the duration of study in the U.S., after the Department has recommended admission to the Graduate School. Even though we guarantee funding, there is often additional financial support documentation required to cover the gap between what we provide and what the US State Department requires. For instance, if you receive a teaching assistantship, you would need to show the financial means to cover the difference, which in the fall of 2011 was approximately $4200. Additional information about International Student Expenses can be found at: https://grad.wisc.edu/admissions/internationalfinancial/

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14. Can I transfer credits that I've taken in another graduate program?

We require 24 credits taken at UW-Madison in Sociology or Community and Environmental Sociology as part of our master's degree requirement. Though you can't transfer credits, you can request waivers of some required courses based on graduate courses taken elsewhere. Once enrolled in the program, you can request the requirement waivers. You will need to present syllabi from the relevant courses along with the grades you received. If the course waiver is approved, you won't have to take that specific course. But you will still need 24 credits in Sociology or Community and Environmental Sociology taken here.

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15. If I already have a master's degree, do I have to complete another one?

If you have been awarded a master's degree in Sociology or a related field and the degree required a thesis or other major research paper, you may request a "primary master's waiver." A three-member committee will read your previous thesis or paper and decide whether or not it is substantively equivalent to a thesis completed in this program. If your primary master's waiver is denied, there also is an option for a "secondary master's waiver" request that would involve submitting additional or revised papers and having a comprehensive oral exam.

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16. What if I am admitted and then want to defer admission to the spring or following year?

You cannot defer admission, you have to reapply. Although admission in one year makes it likely that you would be considered admissable in the next year, admission is competitive and it is possible that you would not be admitted in a subsequent year. But declining admission and reapplying would not lower your chances of admission in the following year. Also, we do not admit students for spring, as our program is structured to start in the fall.

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17. When do you need to know whether or not I will attend?

We need your response by April 15. If you have chosen another school before that date, we would appreciate it if you would let us know as soon as you make your decision.

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18. How long does it take to get a Ph.D.?

Usually about six to eight years. If you start our program with a previous master's degree and receive a master's waiver (see FAQ #15), you may finish about two years earlier.

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19. Is there a separate program for those who want just a master's degree?

No. We admit people who intend to complete a Ph.D.  You will either complete a master's degree on the way to the Ph.D. or receive a waiver of our master's requirements based on a previous degree.  You are admitted to the Graduate Program of the Department of Sociology and the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology. Some students choose to leave the program after completing the master's degree. And sometimes their master's exam committee makes the recommendation that they not continue toward the Ph.D.

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20. What kind of jobs do people get with a Ph.D. from this program? What kind of jobs can you get with a master's in Sociology?

Most Ph.D.s from this graduate program get jobs teaching and/or doing research at universities or doing research in government or private organizations. Master's graduates often get government or private agency research or administrative positions. Some obtain teaching positions at colleges that do not require a Ph.D. degree.

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If your question is not answered here, e-mail gradinfo@ssc.wisc.edu