How good do my GRE scores and GPA have to be?

The average GRE scores for admitted students in recent years were 90th percentile in Verbal and 75th percentile in Quantitative, and the average grade point average was 3.7. Those are not requirements, but averages. Our admissions committee considers the entire student record, including the transcripts, writing sample, statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation.

How many students do you accept? What is your acceptance rate?

In recent years we have averaged almost 200 applicants per year and accepted approximately 15 percent of them. Our average incoming cohort is around 12 students.

What can I do to improve my chances of being admitted?

If your GRE scores are much lower than our averages, it may help you to retake the GRE before applying. We suggest that you invest considerable time in your application. Our admissions committee takes the writing sample and statement of purpose very seriously, as these are the best first-hand evidence we have of your academic ability and sociological interests. Does your statement of purpose reflect interests that suggest you will be happy and successful in our program? Does your writing sample show the ability to think analytically, to write and reason well? Finally, who wrote your letters of recommendation, and do they have the perspective to evaluate your potential for our program?

Should I contact individual faculty members with whom I might be interested in working? Will this help my chances of admission?

A good mentoring relationship is one of the keys to success in graduate school. You are welcome to contact faculty members directly.  Click here for a list of our faculty’s areas of specialization. Gauging their interest in your areas of interest may be useful as you make your own decisions. Although individual faculty members do not pick their own students, our admissions committee does consult with individual faculty as we make our decisions, and the feedback from them is one of the factors we consider.

What financial assistance is available for  graduate study in your program?

All of the students that we admit are currently offered at least four years of financial support, including tuition remission and a stipend, usually through teaching assistantships. This policy applies to international as well as domestic students. We also work with students to encourage applications for support from other sources, including UNC and off-campus fellowships. The result is that almost every student who completes the doctorate in a timely fashion is funded throughout their entire graduate career.

I would like to visit before I apply. How do I do that?

We do not arrange formal visits for students who are not yet admitted. You are welcome to contact individuals with whom you might like to meet and make arrangements to meet with them. However, we are all busy and may not budget time outside the admissions season for this purpose. After admission, we invite all admitted students to visit the campus together, to meet with students and faculty before making their decisions.

Which faculty members have interests that align with mine?

Please click here for a list of our faculty’s areas of specialization, with links to the web pages of individual faculty members. Feel free to contact any of them directly to discuss your interest in the program.

I am not a sociology major. Can I still apply to your program?

Yes. In that case it is a good idea to clearly explain your interest in sociology in your statement of purpose, and highlight your interest in other ways, such as including a letter of recommendation from a sociologist, or a writing sample from a social science project.

I am interested in other departments and programs on campus. Can I work with them as a Sociology graduate student?

Yes. Sociology graduate students often take one or more courses outside of our department, and we value interdisciplinary approaches. If your interests are primarily outside the Department, however, this is not the program for you.

Does the UNC sociology graduate program offer part-time or distance-education programs?

No, our program is designed for full-time students who are taking classes in person.

Can I apply for a master’s degree instead of the joint master’s-doctoral program?

No, we accept applications only for the joint MA/PhD program.

Whom do I contact for more information?

Basic information about the application process is on the department web site here: For information about the application system or process, please contact Leah Elms at For questions about Graduate School policies, see their web page at: