About the Graduate Program

Program Description

The doctoral program in sociology prepares students for careers in research and teaching. While the majority of graduates teach in colleges and universities, many hold research appointments in medical and mental health centers, government agencies, consulting firms, or other non-profit or research settings.

The curriculum is intended both to acquaint students with the discipline of sociology and provide training in fields of special interest. Of the twelve required courses, four must be drawn from core courses in sociological theory, statistics, and research methods. Students are given ample opportunity to specialize but the Faculty believes that specialization must be preceded by a thorough grounding in a wide range of classical and contemporary theories and proficiency in social statistics and a variety of research methods. The curriculum permits — and Faculty encourage — study in related disciplines.


Between six and ten new students are admitted each year. Preference is given to applicants who intend to complete the Ph.D. degree. Typically, general Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are required; however, due to the challenges associated with the pandemic, the department is making the GRE optional for those applying in Fall 2021 only. The department does recommend that applicants take the test if at all possible. In future years, the department will return to requiring the GRE. We also require two writing samples. Writing samples demonstrate the student’s academic interests and their capacity for thinking sociologically. We use these to evaluate ability and intellectual fit with the strengths of our department. Generally we see two items of around 6000 words each that use sociological theory and methods to make an argument or explain something about the social world. Samples are often coursework papers that received positive feedback from faculty; cut back versions of a lengthy senior essay or MA/MSc thesis; sometimes also papers or reports you have sent off for publication or even that have been published.

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores are required for international students whose native tongue is not English. For further information see the Office of Graduate Admissions website.

Although an undergraduate concentration in sociology is not a prerequisite, students applying for admission are advised to have taken undergraduate courses in the social sciences and statistics.

A personal interview is not required. Applicants, however, should feel free to send questions by e-mail to Director of Graduate Studies Rene Almeling or any member of the Faculty specializing in research topics in which the applicant may have an interest.

Financial Aid

All accepted students are fully funded for five years. In the first four years they receive full tuition and a living stipend and in the fifth or sixth year students are eligible for the dissertation write-up fellowship. In the third and fourth years students are required to serve as teaching fellows to receive their stipend. In 2021-22, the 12-month stipend is $33,600.  (Please refer to the Yale Graduate School site, Funding for Ph.D. Students, for further details).

Students who do fieldwork outside of New Haven are encouraged to apply to external and Yale-based research funds. Some recommended institutions are listed here:

Institutional Resources

The Department encourages students to pursue work in any instructional unit of the University which furnishes additional dimensions to sociological analysis. We also encourage students to attend seminars and apply for research and training grants outside of the Department. A partial list of some of the many such opportunities within Yale include:

Joint Degrees

For an overview of joint degree programs at Yale, especially the J.D./Ph.D. and M.D./Ph.D., see the Yale Graduate School’s Requirements for Joint Degree Programs. The Sociology Department will make special arrangements for students enrolled in joint Ph.D. or professional programs. We have several students jointly enrolled for the PhD with African American Studies. Over the years many students have worked towards a certificate in Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies (‘WGSS’) and starting from 2020 we will be offering a full joint PhD route. Students can also work closely with the Statistics Department and obtain an MA in Statistics en route to their Sociology PhD. Please contact Rene Almeling for more information.


How to Apply

To apply to the Yale Sociology Graduate Program please visit the Office of Graduate Admissionsweb site. Applications may be made online. The Office also publishes a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the admissions process.

For questions about the Department or the Sociology Graduate Program in particular, please contact Rene Almeling or the Sociology Department Registrar.