Sociology Graduate Program

Prospective Students

Thank you for your interest in the sociology graduate program at USU! This page includes a collection of resources that will help you learn more about our program and how to apply. If you still have questions about the graduate program, please reach out to Dr. Erin Hofmann, Director of Graduate Studies. If you have questions about the research projects of specific faculty members, please reach out to the faculty member directly we are generally very happy to talk to prospective students!

Resources for prospective graduate students at USU

Q: When is the deadline to apply for the MS and PhD programs?

The priority deadline for both programs is December 20. Late applications are accepted through April 1, but applications received after December 20 are at the bottom of the priority list for funding. If you are interested in departmental funding, applying by December 20 is strongly encouraged.


Q: When does the department make admissions decisions?

For applications received by the December 20 deadline, admissions decisions are made in mid to late January, and funding decisions in late January or early February. Late applications are considered on a case by case basis.


Q: Do I need to identify an advisor before applying to the MS or PhD program?

Not necessarily. Most of our students are funded at least partly by the department, rather than solely from a faculty grant, so admissions decisions are made by a departmental committee, not by individual faculty. However, it is advisable to connect with potential advisors before applying, as this will make your application more competitive.


Q: How does the department make admissions decisions?

For details on our admissions criteria, please see our “How to Apply” page [link to page].


Q: Is the GRE required?

No, we have permanently eliminated the GRE requirement. If you have GRE scores and feel that they provide information about your skills that is not demonstrated by your transcript or other application materials, you may include them in your application package.


Q: Are there any special requirements for international students?

International students are required to demonstrate English proficiency. This can be done in one of 3 ways: 1) Have a bachelor’s or master’s degree from a university in the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand or Australia; 2) If you have a bachelor’s or master’s degree from an English-language university outside of these five countries, you may submit a letter from the registrar of your university, certifying that your degree program was completed entirely in English; 3) Submit TOEFL or IELTS scores.


Your transcripts must be submitted in English. Accreditation of international transcripts is not required. However, providing some additional context in your application materials to explain your transcript can be helpful to our admissions committee.


Q: Are graduate teaching and research assistantships available? How do I apply for an assistantship?


Yes. There is no separate application for TA or RA positions. We consider all of our applicants for funding, unless you request not to be considered (for example, if you have full time job you do not wish to leave, or you have a full scholarship from another source).


Q: Do all graduate students receive funding?

No, but many do. Some students will be offered funding at the time of admission, and others will be put on a waiting list in case additional funding becomes available. Usually 1-2 students from the waiting list do get funding every year, but the waiting list is not a guarantee of a future funding offer.

Funding packages generally continue for 2 years (MS students) or 4 years (PhD students), contingent on the student making adequate progress toward the degree and maintaining good academic standing.


Q: What does a teaching or research assistantship involve? How much financial support is provided?

Graduate teaching and research assistantships normally involve an assignment to work under the direction of one or more faculty members, for a total of up to 20 hours/week. Teaching assistants provide help with things like test monitoring, grading, supervision of study sessions, and organization of various course materials; they may also be invited to lead one or more class sessions depending on interest and ability. Research assistants work on faculty members’ research projects on tasks such as data collection, data analysis, and preparation of reports, papers, and journal articles.


All assistantships come with a waiver of tuition (but not student fees), access to subsidized health insurance, and a stipend. Current stipend amounts are generally $10,000 per year for MS students and $20,000 for PhD students.


Q: If I am accepted, when do you need to know whether or not I will attend?

Admissions and funding offers that are not accepted by April 15 are subject to being withdrawn by the department.


Q: I don’t have a background in sociology. Can I still apply to the MS or PhD program?

Several of our faculty members started their PhD programs without a background in sociology, so we are generally open to this. It depends on exactly what your background is – we prefer students who have had exposure to social science methods, theory, and statistics, but many students have this without having a sociology major. Being able to articulate a clear reason for wanting to switch fields into sociology also helps. If you are unsure about your background, please reach out to the Graduate Director.


Applicants with a master’s degree in a very unrelated field may be encouraged to complete a second master’s in sociology before entering the PhD program.


Q: I only have a bachelor’s degree, but I want to get a PhD in sociology. Do I apply for the MS or PhD program?

Most students with a bachelor’s degree are encouraged to first complete the MS degree before going on to the PhD. However, we do consider exceptionally well-qualified applicants who have a Sociology degree background, strong grades, and a strong writing sample for admission directly into the PhD program; those decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.


Q: How long does it take to get an MS or PhD degree?

As a full time student, the MS program requires 2 years, and the PhD program normally requires 4 years beyond the MS degree. Completing degrees at an accelerated pace is generally not possible given our schedule of courses.


Q: What do graduate students do outside of school?

Logan is surrounded by National Forest lands providing a wealth of outdoor recreation opportunities (hiking, skiing, fishing, camping, etc.), and many of our students are actively engaged in those types of activities.  But, there are also opportunities to take advantage of a variety of other recreational and entertainment events and activities provided both on-campus and off-campus, including theatre productions, musical entertainment, etc.

Q: How can graduate students get involved in department life?

We encourage all graduate students to participate actively in the Sociology Graduate Student Association, which provides opportunities to meet and interact with other students and also provides students with a voice in various departmental activities and decision-making processes.


Q: What is it like living in Logan?

Logan is a growing but still relatively small urban area, at the center of the Cache-Franklin Metropolitan Area.  As such, there are a variety of entertainment and dining options (including a good variety of international and ethnic restaurants) and a broad range of major national chain retail outlets.  The local public transportation system provides easy (and free) access throughout Logan and adjoining communities.  At the same time, Logan maintains a “small town feel” in many ways, due in part to its location immediately adjacent to extensive National Forest land areas that provide easy access to many outdoor recreation opportunities.


Q: Are most of the students and faculty from Utah?

Faculty as well as graduate students are drawn from throughout North America and also from several international backgrounds; overall the majority are not originally from Utah or from the Intermountain West.


Q: Can graduate students get funding to travel to professional conferences?

Yes, students may apply for and receive funds to travel to conferences. Most students attend at least one conference during their time at USU. 


Q: Is there funding support for thesis/dissertation research?

Yes, students are strongly encouraged to apply for USU based funds for research. Students have applied for and received National Science Foundation, American Sociological Association, and other scholarships to support the research on their theses and dissertations. 


Q: Is there health insurance?

All graduate students have access to USU’s student health insurance, and are required to purchase it unless they have other insurance. For teaching and research assistants, the department pays 75% of the insurance premium, with the student responsible for the other 25%. Unfunded students pay the full premium. Please note that currently USU has very limited health coverage available for the dependents of graduate students.



Sociology Graduate Program Handbook

How to Apply to the MS and PhD Programs in Sociology


To be considered for funding, applicants must submit the application and all supporting material by December 20. Late applications will be considered until April 1, but funding is only rarely available for late applicants. All students normally start the program in the Fall semester (late August). Spring semester starts may be possible in special cases.


Application procedures

Applications for the MS and PhD programs are processed by the School of Graduate Studies (link to main page here). Please do not send any application materials, including letters of recommendation, directly to the Sociology program. Applicants are responsible to make sure that all application materials are received prior to the deadline. For a detailed list of admissions requirements and to start an application, go to:

Please note that there is an application fee that must be paid before any supplemental admissions materials can be uploaded.

The supplemental materials required by the sociology program are as follows:

  1. Official transcripts from all previous institutions of higher education that you have attended.
  2. A statement of purpose. This statement is a key piece of your application. It should indicate your reasons for pursuing graduate school training, why you think USU is a good fit for your interests and goals, any specific faculty members or projects that you are particularly interested in, and any other relevant information about your skills, interests, and background that might help us make a decision on your application. There is no specific length requirement for the statement of purpose but please aim for no more than 2 double-spaced pages.
  3. Letters of Reference. The online application form will ask you for the names and email addresses of three recommenders, who will then be contacted and sked to provide letters.
  4. Writing sample. This should be something you have already written (for example a course paper), not a new piece of writing that you produce just for the application. There are no requirements as to length, but please limit yourself to one writing sample. Co-authored pieces are acceptable, but please submit a brief addendum explaining your role in creating the piece of writing.
  5. GRE scores. These are neither required nor recommended. However, if you believe that your GRE scores can show some aspect of your background and qualifications for the program that is not clear from other parts of your application, you are welcome to submit your scores, and the admissions committee will take them into consideration.
  6. International students have additional admissions requirements:

Admissions criteria

We look for solid grades in prior educational training (generally a minimum 3.0 GPA is required); highly supportive letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with the applicant’s academic performance and potential; evidence of strong writing and communication skills; evidence of adequate background in sociology or a related social science, including evidence of solid quantitative skills; a clear commitment to a graduate education in sociology; and areas of interest that fit the specific areas of strength in our graduate program (environment/community, demography, and/or inequality).