Admissions and How to Apply


2022 Updates:

Applicants are not required to submit GRE scores as part of the application requirements. You are welcome to send scores if you have them, and they will be considered with the rest of your materials. Please fill out the contact form below if you have any questions.

Options for English language proficiency scores remain expanded to allow Duolingo tests. For more information, please see the announcement here.



Ohio State’s PhD program is rigorous and selective. About 10-12 new graduate students enter the program each year; we provide students with challenging coursework and intensive mentoring in order to help them develop into independent scholars. While a formal background in sociology is not required, applicants must demonstrate their ability to succeed in all areas of graduate work. Prior undergraduate or graduate study and research in the social and behavioral sciences serve as a strong foundation for this program.

The Graduate School sets a minimum GPA of 3.0 or higher in the most recent academic program. In addition, the sociology program requires a TOEFL score of 100 or higher (above the Graduate School requirement). Aside from these requirements, there are no numeric requirements for admission.

  • In particular, there is no minimum GRE score. We place little weight on GRE scores between the 30th and 70th percentile, but tend to consider more closely scores at the very high or very low end. We consider GRE scores as one element of the application and do not use them as a cutoff. 
  • Applicants who meet the eligibility requirements for the University Fellowships (3.6 GPA) or Enrichment Fellowships (3.2 GPA) may be given priority in admissions.  

The admissions committee considers all components of the application when making admissions decisions. We evaluate the application holistically and interpret the individual components in light of each other; weaknesses in some areas of the application may be balanced by strengths in others.

We look for the following characteristics (listed in no particular order) in admitted students. Not all admitted students are strong in every area, but all admitted students are strong in at least one area and most in more than one. 

  • ability to understand and engage with challenging concepts, as indicated by one or more of the following:  strong reasoning in the writing sample or statement of purpose, comments from letters of recommendation, GPA, GRE scores. 

  • strength of preparation for studies in sociology, as indicated by one or more of the following: strong performance in previous sociology courses, understanding of sociological ideas in statement of purpose, sociological thinking in writing sample, comments from letters of recommendation. 

  • clarity of writing, as expressed in statement of purpose and writing sample.  

Our program requires a sequence of classes in research methods, qualitative analysis, and statistics. We look for evidence that applicants will be able to succeed in these required courses, as indicated by one or more of the following: performance in previous methods classes, performance in previous math or statistics classes, experience as a teaching assistant or tutor in methods or statistics courses, quantitative GRE score, reasoning and approach to methods in writing sample, comments from letters of recommendation.

We also consider applicants’ previous experience with social science research through collaboration with faculty members, participation in undergraduate research programs such as McNair Scholars or SROP, undergraduate theses, or other experiences. Be sure to clearly describe any previous research experiences in your CV and/or statement of purpose; if you have written up the results of your research, consider submitting this writing as your writing sample. You should also request recommenders who are familiar with your research experience to discuss it in their letters of recommendation. We recognize that some applicants may have had limited opportunities to engage in research, and we take the availability of opportunities into account in evaluating applications.

We seek to admit a group of students with a variety of personal experiences and approaches to sociological research, as indicated in the statement of purpose, diversity statement, or comments from letters of recommendation. We especially encourage applications from members of underrepresented groups, particularly groups who have encountered structural barriers limiting their equitable representation in the academy.

In addition to these characteristics and experiences, we look for signs that students understand the goals and structure of a doctoral program and how doctoral education differs from undergraduate studies. (If you have questions about what doctoral studies are like, we would be happy to talk to you!) This understanding is often expressed in the statement of purpose.

Finally, we consider the fit between the applicant’s research interests (as described in the statement of purpose or CV) and our faculty strengths. We try to admit students for whom our faculty can provide informed and thoughtful mentorship – students with research interests far outside of our collective expertise may not be well-served by our program.  

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How to Apply


Application deadline for international applicants: November 30th (if all materials are not received by the deadline, we cannot guarantee your application will be reviewed by the admissions committee)

Application deadline for domestic applicants:  December 13th (if all materials are not received by the deadline, we cannot guarantee your application will be reviewed by the admissions committee)


Students must apply online and submit all materials (Graduate Admissions and Department requirements) electronically through the Office of Graduate Admissions.  Please note that your recommenders will receive an email from the university 1-3 days after you submit your application and they should follow the instructions in that email for uploading their letters.


• Resume or Curriculum Vitae

• Academic writing sample that clearly demonstrates your critical thinking skills, writing abilities and potential for success in a rigorous doctoral program.  If you have completed an undergraduate honors thesis or master's thesis, you should consider submitting it as your writing sample.

• Statement of Purpose outlines your relevant training, research experience, academic goals and sociological interests, career objectives, and why you feel that the Department of Sociology at The Ohio State University is the right place to pursue your Ph.D.  It is appropriate to note any special circumstances in this statement as well.

• Three (3) letters of recommendation.  You will be asked to provide contact information for three recommenders when completing your online application. 

• English-language proficiency TOEFL or IELTS scores (if applicable; please see the university policy for the language requirement).  Scores must be no more than 5 years old.  Official scores must be submitted by ETS to the OSU Office of Graduate Admissions using the Ohio State University Code: 1592.    

• Transcripts.   Please use the "Upload Transcript" button to send copies (front and back) of official transcripts from ALL institutions where college credit was earned--even if you attended while in high school.  International Credentials should include certified educational records and degree certificates or diplomas in the original language with English translations.  If you are admitted to the university as a graduate student, you will be required to submit final official transcripts.  Please do not send the Graduate and Professional Admissions Office official paper transcripts unless specifically requested by our office.  Transcripts take 2-4 weeks to process once received.  Students are responsible for requesting official transcripts from their institutions in plenty of time to allow OSU to process them before the deadline.

Optional/Not Required: Applicants are not required to submit GRE scores as part of the application requirements.  If an applicant submits scores, scores must be no more than five years old and may be reviewed as part of the admission review process.  Applicants who do not submit scores will not be put at a disadvantage.  Official scores must be submitted to the OSU Office of Graduate Admissions using the Ohio State University Code: 1592.  


As a member of the Big Ten Academic Alliance, Ohio State participates in the FreeApp Fee Waiver Program.  For information on the program and to see if you are eligible, go to the Big 10 Academic Alliance web site.

Ohio State works with a variety of other programs that provide fee waivers to applicants as well as several of it's own programs. Please visit consult Graduate and Professional Admissions for the full list of programs.



If you have questions about your online application, please contact the Office of Graduate Admissions. Phone: (614) 292-9444 or email: