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    Guidelines for Researching Ph.D. Programs


    Questions to Consider

      • What is my goal?
      • What are my priorities during graduate school? After graduate school?
      • Do I have particular substantive interests within sociology?
      • How will I pay for grad school? You might not have to!—read on to find out how funding opportunities work in Ph.D. programs

    Steps to Take

      1. Initial Research
      2. Take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE)
          • There are lots of study guides and courses that help!
          • Scores reported at up to 4 institutions (then $15 each)
      3. Do your best to get good grades
      4. Talk with current professors
      5. When to apply?
          • The majority of Ph.D. students take time off between undergrad and graduate schooling
          • But, there is no right answer

    Applying to Graduate Schools

      • Apply to as many schools as you can (4-10)
          • These should be schools you would consider attending, but do not have to be. In some cases, they can also work as bargaining chips for better funding packages.
      • Application packets might require the following, by mid-December for Fall admission:
          • Money: $45.00 at University of Wisconsin
          • 2 copies of Transcripts
          • Signed and dated department pages of the application form
          • The Sociology Graduate Program Checklist
          • Coursework Worksheet
          • GRE Scores: verbal, quantitative, and analytical tests
          • Three letters of recommendation: evaluating past academic performance
          • Statement of Purpose: describing applicants' relevant background, past work, proposed areas of study, plans for graduate work and overall career objectives.
              • Because this statement is used to evaluate applicants' scholarly potential, it should be well written, cogently argued, and well conceived.
              • You should offer specific ideas for potential research topics in the statement
          • Sample of written work that provides evidence of creative and critical thinking, quality of writing, and potential for engaging in independent research
      • If you have a specific research interest, consider contacting individual professors However, our recommendation is to be very respectful of the many competing demands that researchers at this kind of institution face
      • Don’t be afraid to contact the department administrator to insure your application is complete, or to find out about where the admissions committee is in the process.
      • Remember it is a crapshoot. You will never know why you are accepted at University A and rejected at University B (and C, and D . . .)
          • However, if you are rejected you can request a formal review of your application, which may help you for the next round

    When You Are Accepted

      • Talk to professors at the school—now you are being recruited!
          • Prepare a list of specific questions (you don’t want to sound like you haven’t thought about things
            • Potential questions: quality of graduate program, system for student training/mentoring, T.A. requirements/workload/pay/benefits, availability of research assistant positions, current research, strengths in your area of interest
            • Have some ideas about where your sociological interests lie, even if you aren’t completely sure
          • If there are professors with whom you would like to work, definitely talk to them at this stage. Find out if they have positions for research assistants
      • Visit the school (arrange this with department administrator—this person will schedule appointments, and possibly give you travel money)
          • Meet with/stay with students and ask them everything you can about life as a graduate student at U of X
          • Talk with professors
          • Collect information about housing costs, community life, etc.

    When You Are NOT Accepted

      • Consider taking graduate courses as a non-enrolled student
      • Request application review
      • Consider re-taking GRE
      • Get involved in research through employment or volunteer work
      • Try again!

    How Will I Pay For Graduate School?

      • For Ph.D. programs, you will usually be offered some form of financial support
        • Most often, this is a T.A. position, but could also be a fellowship or research assistant position
        • May need another job
        • One reason to apply to many places is so that you can judge the best financial offer
      • For professional programs, usually you will pay through savings, loans, and employment

    What Is Graduate School Like (other than really hard work)?

      • Talk to students where you applied, after you are accepted
      • Seek advice from your undergraduate professors
      • Though difficult, graduate school can be remarkably stimulating, motivating, rewarding, and opportunity-producing
Page Updated 07.06.2015