Application and Admission Process

Application and Admission Requirements

In general, admission to the Sociology graduate program follows the general rules for admission to graduate study at the university. Details about the university application process and admissions requirements can be found at:

As part of the application for graduate study with us, we require undergraduate and graduate transcripts, a personal statement, official GRE general test scores, and three letters of recommendation. In addition to the materials just described, international students must submit the results of the TOEFL and TSE exams. There is a university minimum score of 600 for the TOEFL exam. All applicants must pay the application fee. The university does not waive this fee nor does the department.

Each part of the application helps the Graduate Committee choose the entering class of about 12 - 15 students. Every application is considered by the committee--there are no "minimums" that we impose in terms of scores or grades. However, admission is quite competitive. Each year we turn away at least as many qualified students as we have in the entering class because we do not have space for them.

To be considered for a graduate assistantship or fellowship, the deadline for receipt of applications is January 15. The deadline for application without funding is May 1. However, we admit very few unfunded students into the program. Notification of applicants begins in early March. We comply with the Council of Graduate Schools guideline and their April 15th response deadline.

More details on graduate studies at SUNY Albany can be found here:

FAQ about Admissions:

  1. What part of my application counts the most? The Graduate committee looks carefully at all the material submitted by each candidate. There is no specific "weighting" of the parts of the application, but special attention is paid to how well the student's research interests fit with those of the faculty. In addition, the committee seeks to have a broad array of interests represented in the entering cohort rather than to have all students interested in the same disciplinary sub-field.
  2. Are writing samples required? Yes. The writing sample should demonstrate some form of sociological analysis. Writing samples should not be papers unrelated to sociology. We use these to judge applicants' writing skills.
  3. Must I apply for the M.A. if I don't already have one? Are my chances of admission better if I apply for the M.A. rather than the Ph.D.? No (to both questions). We offer an M.A. degree but it is not a separate program from the Ph.D. program. We do not require that you earn an M.A. before you can obtain a Ph.D. Since applicants are often unsure of which program they should apply for or change their mind after they arrive here, we evaluate all the applications together using the same criteria. We encourage students to apply for the Ph.D. if they think there is any chance that they would like to study for that degree. When we are choosing the final members of the class, we would take the Ph.D. student over the M.A. student, all else being equal.
  4. What if I get a better financial offer from another university but I prefer Albany? Unfortunately, we are no longer in a position to match offers that prospective students receive from other universities.
  5. What if another university offers me more years of funding than Albany? University regulations limit the number of years of departmental funding that we can provide to four for students studying for the Ph.D. As a result, we cannot officially "match" offers of funding beyond four years. However, students in areas where there is a lot of research money are often employed on grants once their departmental funding runs out. Advanced students are also hired to teach undergraduate courses. Students studying for the M.A. have a maximum of two years of funding. We do not "match" offers for M.A. students.
  6. If I do not get funding upon admission, how likely am I to get it in my second year? Unfunded students who are part of the program are invited to apply for departmental funding each spring. They are considered along with the new applicants to the program. Often the Graduate Group prefers to use the money to recruit new students rather than fund those already here, but occasionally second year students are picked up for departmental funding. More common is the situation where the student is hired to work on a research grant. Positions on grants are very similar to departmental funding though the years of funding is at the discretion of the researcher and the length of the grant.
  7. Is it easier to get accepted in January? The department does not encourage students to start the program in January as the course sequences assume a September starting date. There is no pool of money for funding students beginning in January.
  8. Can I obtain my Ph.D. going part-time? The vast majority of graduate students in the Sociology program are full-time students and the university has a two-semester full-time residence requirement once you have accumulated 30 credits. Most courses are offered during the day and some of the required courses are only offered during the day. Students occasionally go through the program part-time but unless they are local and have flexibility in their work hours, it can be hard for them to get the courses they need.