Admissions and Funding

How to Apply

The deadline for receipt of a complete application is December 1*.

  • *All materials, including letters of recommendation, must be received by December 1
  • Recommenders will receive an email from the university approximately 1-3 days after submission of the online application.
  • We strongly encourage applicants to submit their online application a week or more before the December 1 deadline to allow recommenders ample time to submit their letters.

Students must apply online and submit all required materials electronically through the Office of Graduate Admissions.  

Within three days after you submit the online application, your recommenders will receive an email from the university with instructions for uploading their letters by the December 1 deadline.

  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae
  • Academic writing sample 
    • A writing sample that demonstrates your critical thinking skills, writing abilities, and potential for success in a rigorous doctoral program
    • We recommend that those who have completed an undergraduate honors thesis or master's thesis submit this document as the writing sample
  • Statement of purpose (2 pages maximum)
    • Outlines your:
      • Relevant training
      • Research experience
      • Academic goals
      • Sociological interests
      • Career objectives.
        • This statement should also describe why you would like to pursue your Ph.D. at The Ohio State University Department of Sociology
        • If relevant, you may also note any special challenges or circumstances you have faced in pursuing your education.
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation
    • You will be asked to provide contact information for three recommenders when completing your online application. 
  • English-language proficiency scores
    • The university requires official TOEFL, Duolingo or IELTS Academic test scores from applicants who meet any of the following criteria:
      1. Native language is not English
      2.  Educated primarily outside of the U.S.
      3. OR have held U.S. permanent resident, asylee or refugee status for less than one year from the first term of enrollment.
      4. Scores must be no more than 5 years old and must be submitted directly from the testing agency (ETS or IELTS) by your application deadline using the Ohio State University Code: 1592
  • Transcripts
    • 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 official paper transcripts to the Graduate and Professional Admissions Office 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 time to allow Ohio State to process them before the deadline
  • Optional
    • The submission of GRE scores is not required
    • Those who choose to submit GRE scores should ensure that they are no more than five years old and are submitted to the Ohio State 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.


All graduate students admitted to our program are provided with guaranteed financial support for six academic years of graduate study.*

This financial support package includes tuition, most student fees, a monthly stipend, and 100% of OSU's student health insurance. Funding beyond the sixth year is not guaranteed but may be available.

Financial support for graduate students comes through a combination of university fellowships and graduate associateships. Fellowships have no work requirements and provide 12 months of funding.

Graduate associateships include 20 hours per week of work as either a research assistant or a teaching assistant and cover a 9 month period (academic year).

The stipend levels for fellowships and associateships are set by the university.

*The program guarantees nine months of funding (Autumn and Spring semesters) for six years. Graduate students may also apply for summer funding, but availability depends on budget and instructional needs.

Research assistants work with faculty members in sociology or in other departments on faculty research projects.

Research assistant responsibilities may include data collection and management, analysis of data, writing and presentation of results, or other tasks that contribute to ongoing projects.

Teaching assistants work with faculty to support large undergraduate courses, typically by grading or by leading small group lab or section meetings. More advanced students may also work as independent instructors.

In addition to the primary support through stipends, the department also provides travel funds for graduate students to present papers at professional meetings annually and other professional development funds to support graduate research and workshop attendance.

OSU’s Graduate School offers an array of additional opportunities for securing additional research and travel funds.

Additional financial support for graduate students in sociology comes from a variety of other sources, both inside and outside the University.

In recent years, our advanced graduate students have competed successfully in the university’s Presidential Fellowship for Dissertation Research. Extramural support is also common.

Current and recent graduate students have won prestigious support from programs such as:

  • National Science Foundation
  • The Spencer Foundation
  • The American Sociological Association Minority Fellowship Program
  • The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • The Fulbright Program

Students can also work as research assistants and receive funding through the research grants of faculty members.

Our faculty are extremely successful in securing national research grants, and students have been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the William T. Grant Foundation, the Lilly Endowment, the National Institutes of Health, and others.

General information

Ohio State’s PhD program is rigorous and selective, providing students with the challenging coursework and intensive mentoring needed to develop into independent scholars.

We admit approximately ten to twelve graduate students each year.

Applicants are not required to have a formal background in sociology but 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 provide a strong foundation for this program.

With the following exceptions, there are no numeric requirements for admission:

  • The Graduate School sets a minimum GPA of 3.0 or higher in the most recent academic program.
  • The Department of Sociology requires a TOEFL score of 100 or higher.

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

Successful applicants are typically able to demonstrate one or more of the following characteristics.

  • 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 strong performance in previous sociology courses, comprehension of sociological concepts in the statement of purpose, sociological thinking in the writing sample, and/or comments in letters of recommendation.
  • Clarity of writing, as expressed in the statement of purpose and the writing sample.  

Our program requires a sequence of courses 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:

  • Strong performance in previous methods, math, or statistics courses
  • Experience as a teaching assistant or tutor in methods or statistics courses,
  • A strong quantitative GRE score
  • Methodological knowledge in the writing sample and/or 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, the completion of undergraduate theses, or other relevant experiences.

Applicants should clearly describe any research experiences in the CV and/or statement of purpose and consider selecting recommenders who are familiar with your research experiences.

We recommend that those who have completed an undergraduate honors thesis or master's thesis submit this document as the writing sample.

We recognize that some applicants may have had limited opportunities to engage in research, and we consider the availability of opportunities 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 or comments from letters of recommendation.

We especially encourage applications from first-generation students and those who have encountered structural barriers that have traditionally limited 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.

Applicants whose research interests fall outside of our collective expertise may not be well-served by our program. 

Graduate Program Contact

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

Contact Us

If you are interested in learning more about the graduate program, please contact us at