Prospective Students

The Sociology Program selects Ph.D. candidates who show intellectual curiosity, a serious interest in research, and academic ability as demonstrated in their prior record, test scores, and writing sample.

Admissions Overview

Application Deadline: December 15 (fall enrollment only)

Candidates complete The Graduate Center’s Application for Admission and provide appropriate supplemental materials including transcripts and letters of recommendation.

Additional requirements for the Ph.D. Program in Sociology include:

  • a personal statement describing the student’s reasons for wanting to enter the program
  • a writing sample (30 page maximum). This can be a master's thesis, a term paper, or any other form of written work that conveys the applicant's quality of mind and ability to do academic work.

Candidates can apply to the Ph.D. Program in Sociology with a B.A. degree or with a master's degree. We do not give preference to those with MA degrees.

Please note that GRE requirements are suspended for the 2022 admissions cycle.

International students/applicants who have not studied and earned a degree in an English-speaking country must also submit TOEFL scores.

Unofficial transcripts must be uploaded into the online application from each college or university attended even if you did not complete a degree or did not enroll in courses in your current field. If an applicant is offered admissions and decides to attend the Graduate Center, the applicant will then be required to provide unopened, official hard copies of all transcripts which will be compared to the unofficial uploads.

Applications are first collected and processed by the Office of Admissions and then reviewed by the Sociology Program's Admissions and Awards Committee. The Committee considers all parts of a candidate's file in making decisions.

Students who have completed prior graduate course work may be able to transfer some credits if the work is comparable to what we offer in our program. Program rules allow the transfer of a maximum of 21 credits (out of 60 required for a Ph.D.). Credits can only be transferred for graduate-level courses where students received letter grades of B or better. In addition, the courses must be in sociology or a closely related field.

The Graduate Center allows non-students (called non-matriculated students) to take a total of two courses at the Grad Center. You are welcome to take a sociology course if one interests you. (However, non-matriculated students are not able to take our required courses.) You can check our course offerings on this web site. Please contact the Registrar Office first to do the necessary paperwork and check deadlines to apply.  Also, be aware that taking courses on a non-matriculated basis does not facilitate entry into the Ph.D. Program in Sociology. If you are later admitted, however, the courses you have taken will count toward the 60 that you need for the degree.

Tuition and Fees

Tuition rates for doctoral programs at The Graduate Center are based on a student's “level,” which is determined by a combination of the number of graduate credits completed (including, in the case of transfer students, credits accepted by the student's degree program and the Registrar) and specific academic accomplishments. 

The fee structure is also affected by a student’s resident status.

See current doctoral tuition rates »

Each student will be billed for a Graduate School student activities fee, a University student senate fee, a University consolidated services fee and a technology fee. These fees are not refundable.

Fellowships and Financial Aid

Every applicant to The Graduate Center’s doctoral programs will automatically be considered for five-year institutional funding packages. The aid we offer — including fellowships, tuition awards, and assistantships — is based on merit. 

Learn more about institutional aid for doctoral students »


Federal aid for doctoral students includes:

New York State also provides the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) for eligible graduate students who are New York State residents.

Additional funding may be available to incoming students from underrepresented populations through offerings from the Office of Educational Opportunity and Diversity, including several fellowships and the CUNY Pipeline Program for undergraduate CUNY students.

Learn more about funding opportunities from OEOD »

After their first year, most of our students find jobs teaching or doing research. We do not advise first-year students to begin teaching, as they first need to establish themselves well in the program. Starting in their second year, however, many students find jobs teaching at the CUNY colleges (such as Hunter, Queens, City College, Brooklyn, Lehman, or LaGuardia). When teaching at CUNY colleges, some students are hired on a course-by-course basis as adjuncts. Others receive Graduate Teaching Fellowships, which guarantee them three years of teaching in one department. Students can also get teaching jobs at the many private colleges in the area. In recent years, all students who have wanted teaching jobs have found them.

There are also many opportunities for students to work as research assistants. This is especially true if they have statistical skills, although many students with skills in ethnographic research are also hired. They work for CUNY's institutional research offices and at the Graduate Center's research centers, such as the Center for Urban Research. They also work for individual professors with research grants. These research jobs provide excellent learning opportunities and often yield dissertation topics.

Most of our students engage in at least part-time work, except for those who receive Magnet or Gilleece awards. In most cases, the work they do contributes to their academic development, as they either teach or do research. We organize our class schedule to enable students to work while attending classes, with most of our classes offered in the late afternoon or early evening.