Graduate Study Admissions FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about Applying to the Harvard Sociology Doctoral Program

Sociology Doctoral Program

Please be advised: In the interest of treating all applicants equally, the Sociology Department at Harvard University has a policy of not scheduling meetings between faculty and prospective doctoral students until admissions decisions have been made.

Can I use Interfolio to submit my Letters of Recommendation?

Harvard GSAS Admissions prefers that your recommenders submit their letters of recommendation directly.

Harvard GSAS's application system requires a letter writer's email address. You can input an Interfolio-generated email address in place of your letter writer’s email. This will allow Interfolio to upload the letter directly to the application, without bothering your letter writer. Interfolio refers to these as Online Application Deliveries.

1. Check the documents in your Interfolio Dossier to make sure your letter writer has uploaded a letter to your account. Letters that have not been received cannot be used in an online application delivery, so they won't have a Document Email address yet.

2. Locate the document you’d like to upload, and click the title to find the Document Email address.

3. Select and Copy the Document Email address.

4. In your online application, paste the document email address in place of your recommender's email to direct the letter request to Interfolio, rather than your letter writer.

5. Repeat the same process for each letter you would like uploaded.

6. When Interfolio is contacted by the institution, Interfolio will create a new Pending Delivery for each letter requested by the application.

7. You’ll receive an email from Interfolio to alert you of your new delivery requests.

8. Navigate to your Deliveries page on Interfolio to submit your pending deliveries.

It takes 1-3 business days for Interfolio to upload your documents to the online application system after you check out. If you’re worried about missing your application deadline, email or call 877-997-8807 to expedite your delivery upload.

Note: Some applications require additional information (performance ratings, rankings, etc.) that Interfolio cannot provide on behalf of your writer. Interfolio will cancel your deliveries and contact you if Interfolio encounters any application questions that Intefolio cannot answer or bypass.

Why hasn't my Online Application Delivery been created as a Pending Delivery?

Occasionally, online application requests from third-party application systems do not reach Interfolio.

This can happen for a few reasons:

◾The application hasn't processed your letter writer data yet, and therefore hasn't sent Interfolio a request yet
◾The document email address was entered incorrectly
◾A special character (like an accent) is preventing Interfolio from processing the email request correctly
◾An error occurred within the third-party application

What you should do:

1.Contact Interfolio immediately at Interfolio may be able to match an orphan request received by its server to your account

2.If Interfolio can't match your request with your account, Interfolio will ask you to try to re-request the letter on the application system

3.If you can't re-request a letter, Interfolio will need to contact the receiving institution to figure out the best way to resolve the situation

Note: Please monitor your pending deliveries closely and let Interfolio know if you’re expecting a delivery that hasn’t come in yet.

Am I eligible to apply for the Ph.D. program in Sociology?

You are eligible for admission to graduate programs at Harvard if you have either 1) completed a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. college or university accredited by a regional accrediting association; or 2) completed an international degree that is equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree from a college or university of recognized standing. Students who are unsure of the U.S. equivalency of their degree(s) should consult a reputable credential evaluation service.

What are the teaching requirements for the program?

The department requires a minimum of one semester of Teaching Fellowship for the degree. The majority of students serve as Teaching Fellows for 4 to 6 semesters. SOC 3305 (Teaching Practicum) is a required course that prepares graduate students for classroom instruction.

My current degree is not in Sociology. Will this adversely affect my graduate application?

No. Applicants are not required to have a Sociology degree, although a background in the social sciences and statistics can be extremely helpful. It is important, however, that applicants who come from another academic background understand the field of sociology and how it applies to their areas of interest. The Department of Sociology does not have specific course requirements for admission to its doctoral program.

When do I need to take the GRE?

It is highly recommended that applicants to the PhD program take the GRE no later than mid-November in the year of application. This ensures that your scores will be reported to Harvard GSAS Admissions and the Sociology Department by the application deadline. We will not accept GRE scores for tests taken after the application deadline.

How do I send my test scores (TOEFL, GRE) to the department?

Applicants need to make arrangements with ETS to send their scores to Harvard University using the University code 3451. Harvard GSAS Admissions downloads the scores on a weekly basis. Departments and Programs access the scores electronically for the applicant file. No Department code is necessary, as the scores are sent directly to Harvard GSAS Admissions, not the department.

What kind of GRE scores do I need to be competitive?

There is not a minimum score required for evaluation of your application by the admissions committee. Scores are reviewed in the context of the applicant’s entire file. Applications and test scores are reviewed and ranked by the Sociology Department’s Admissions Committee on a case-by-case basis.

I am an International applicant who speaks and reads English. Do I need to take the TOEFL?

If you have a four-year degree from an English-speaking institution, you may not have to take the TOEFL. Harvard GSAS requires that incoming PhD students who are non-native English speakers and who received their undergraduate degree from a non-English speaking institution meet a minimum level of oral English language proficiency. For all queries regarding the TOEFL requirement, contact Harvard GSAS Admissions at

How are applications reviewed?

Transcripts are evaluated considering the institution, courses taken and at what level, and Grade Point Average. Graduate Record Exam scores (Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical), letters of recommendation, and statement of purpose are all considered. Harvard faculty place considerable emphasis on research training. Students who are admitted have often been involved in independent research, either academically or professionally.

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