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.

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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