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PhD: How to Apply

The Sociology Department recognizes that the Supreme Court issued a ruling in June 2023 about the consideration of certain types of demographic information as part of an admission review. All applications submitted during upcoming application cycles will be reviewed in conformance with that decision.

The Sociology Department welcomes graduate applications from individuals with a broad range of life experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds who would contribute to our community of scholars, and we are committed to providing a supportive environment for all students whom we admit. Review of applications is holistic and individualized, considering each applicant’s academic record and accomplishments, letters of recommendation, and admissions essays in order to understand how an applicant’s life experiences have shaped their past and potential contributions to their field.

Minimizing pre-admission communication with faculty: We appreciate that prospective graduate students are often instructed to reach out to faculty in advance of applying. However, our policy is to avoid any protracted discussions between faculty and candidates prior to admission since research shows that fair and transparent process can easily be clouded by back-channel communications.  We don’t mean to be off-putting! Instead, our goal is to ensure that everyone has equal opportunity and is considered fairly. For more information, you can review Stanford's Guide to Getting into Grad School.

Application Requirements


stanford campus

Application Requirements

The 2024-25 Sociology Ph.D. applications are now closed.

Please be aware that you must submit your online application by the deadline.  Incomplete applications cannot be completed or submitted after the deadline. Recommendation letters and official test scores from ETS can be submitted by faculty and ETS after the application deadline date. 


PhD Admissions FAQs

Knight-Hennessy Scholars

Join dozens of Stanford School of Humanities and Sciences students who gain valuable leadership skills in a multidisciplinary, multicultural community as Knight-Hennessy Scholars(KHS).

KHS admits up to 100 select applicants each year from across Stanford’s seven graduate schools, and delivers engaging experiences that prepare them to be visionary, courageous, and collaborative leaders ready to address complex global challenges. As a scholar, you join a distinguished cohort, participate in up to three years of leadership programming, and receive full funding for up to three years of your PhD studies at Stanford.Candidates of any country may apply. KHS applicants must have earned their first undergraduate degree within the last seven years, and must apply to both a Stanford graduate program and to KHS. Stanford PhD students may also apply to KHS during their first year of PhD enrollment.If you aspire to be a leader in your field, we invite you to apply. The KHS application deadline is October 11, 2023. Learn more about KHS admission.

Application Fee

The fee to apply for graduate study at Stanford is $125.  You may submit only one application per year (unless one of the applications is to one of the professional schools (Law, Medicine or Business). Acceptable form of payment is by credit/debit card (Visa or MasterCard only.) We do not accept electronic check payments or checks by mail. 

The fee is non-refundable and must be received by the application deadline. 

Fee Waivers

Many applicants qualify for application fee waivers. Stanford offers several application fee waiver options to ensure that the application process is available to everyone who wishes to apply. 

Document submission

In the electronic application, you will be asked to upload scans of transcripts (see specific information below), a statement of purpose, a writing sample, and your CV or resume. When preparing your application materials to be uploaded into the electronic application, please note the following:

  • File size must be 10MB or LESS
  • Files cannot be password protected
  • PDF files cannot have a digital signature
  • Save each document separately

When scanning hard copy materials to upload into your electronic application please note the following:

  • Resolution should be no more than 300dpi
  • Scan in black and white only
  • Removing images will help reduce file size
Statement of Purpose

The statement of purpose (also known as a "personal statement") should describe your reasons for applying to the Doctoral Program in Sociology at Stanford.  This document is not to exceed two pages in length (single-spaced).  You should include details regarding your qualifications, academic and research interests, future career plans, and other aspects of your background and interests which may aid our admissions committee in evaluating your aptitude and motivation for pursuing a Ph.D. in Sociology. You will be asked to upload your statement of purpose in the online application.


You must upload one scanned version of your transcript(s) in the online application. Please read the Applying section of this website for important information submitting transcripts.

If offered admission: Please see this page for information on submitting final official transcripts.

Letters of Recommendation

Stanford accepts electronic letters of recommendation via Stanford online application system - we no longer accept paper letters.

Three letters of recommendation are required, and they must be submitted using the online service.

As part of the online application, you will be required to register the name and contact information, including e-mail address, of each of your recommenders. Recommenders will then receive an e-mail with directions on how to proceed. At least one letter should be a faculty member at the last school you attended as a full-time student (unless you have been out of school for more than five years.)

  • Please inform letter writers of the application deadline.
  • Letters of recommendation cannot be mailed, e-mailed, or faxed; they will be rejected.
  • Substitutions for faculty recommendations may include work associates or others who can comment on your academic potential for graduate work.
REQUIRED GRE (Graduate Record Examination) General Test

GRE (Graduate Record Examination) General Test

*GRE Fee Reduction Waiver

Register early to maximize the chances of scheduling your preferred test date and time

We strongly advise you to take the GRE no later than September, so that your scores will be received by the application deadline.

Late test scores may disqualify you from admission.

We require the GRE General Test only - we do not require the subject test.

Scores must be from an examination taken within the last five years. No exceptions.

Scores must be reported directly to Stanford from the Educational Testing Service.

The Stanford institution code is 4704.  Please do not specify  a department code.

For more information regarding the GRE, please contact ETS directly.

GRE scores from ETS are valid for five years.  For questions about the validity of GRE scores, please contact ETS. If ETS can send your GRE scores, we will accept them.

Arrangements to take the GRE General Test can be made online or by writing:

P.O. Box 600, Princeton, NJ 08541-6000, USA

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

Adequate command of spoken and written English is required for admission.

TOEFL scores are required of all applicants whose first language is not English. Stanford does not accept IELTS scores.


You are exempt from submitting a TOEFL score if you meet one the following criteria:     A. You (will) have a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree from a regionally- accredited college or university in the United States (territories and possessions excluded).     B. You (will) have an equivalent degree from an English-language university in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.

You may request a waiver if you (will) have an equivalent degree from a recognized institution in a country other than Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom in which English was the language of instruction.

NOTE: Being a U.S. citizen does not automatically exempt an applicant from taking the TOEFL; if the applicant’s first language is not English, the applicant must meet the exception above or submit the TOEFL.

TOEFL scores must be submitted from a test taken within the last eighteen months.

We urge you to take the TOEFL by November to be eligible for admission for the following Autumn Quarter. Evidence of adequate proficiency must be submitted before enrollment is approved by Graduate Admissions.

The TOEFL is administered through: EDUCATIONAL TESTING SERVICES, P.O. Box 6151, Princeton, NJ 08541-6151

Information on registration, test centers, dates, and test formats.

The University Minimum TOEFL Score for Doctoral programs is 250 for Computer-based test, 600 for paper-based test, and 100 for Internet-based test. More information is available via the Stanford University Office of Graduate Admissions web site.

  • Scores must be reported directly to Stanford from Educational Testing Service (ETS)

The Stanford score recipient number (also called "Institution Code") is 4704.  You do not need to specify a department code.

All scores are sent electronically to the Graduate Admissions Office, which will share your scores with your department.

Evidence of adequate English proficiency must be submitted before enrollment is approved by Graduate Admissions.

TOEFL scores are retained for 20 months by ETS. For questions about the validity of TOEFL scores, please contact ETS. If ETS can send your TOEFL scores, we will accept them.

Writing Sample

The Department of Sociology requires a writing sample from all applicants to the Ph.D. Program. The Admissions Committee will be looking for original work giving evidence of both writing ability and the capacity for research, analysis, and original thought at the graduate level. Your writing sample could be an honors or master’s thesis, published paper, co-written paper, or comparable article.

  • Papers originally written in a language other than English must be submitted in English Translation.
  • Samples may be up to 50 pages long.  Other things equal, a short, effectively written sample is preferable to a longer sample. If you decide to submit a longer sample, please indicate which pages should be reviewed by the admissions committee. Your writing sample can be uploaded with your online application as a text file as an addendum to your personal statement or under 'additional information'. Writing samples can be single or double spaced.
  • You must upload your writing sample in the online application per "supporting documents" instructions above.
CV or Resume

We do not require a CV or resume for application, but you may upload your CV or resume per the "supporting documents" instructions above.

Apply Online!

The 2024-25 Graduate Admissions Application will open on September 15, 2023.