Frequently Asked Questions from Prospective Students

Q: I see you require a writing sample. Can you clarify as to what qualifies as a writing sample? Is there a page limit?

A: There is no page limit on the writing sample. You may submit your undergraduate senior thesis, a master's thesis, or other writing you have done for school that you feel demonstrates your writing skills.

Q: Do you offer a terminal master’s degree?

A: We do not offer a stand-alone master's degree in Sociology. Unfortunately, we accept students only to our Ph.D. program.Ph.D. students may complete an MA along the way while enrolled in the Ph.D. program, but we do not offer a terminal master's degree and therefore do not consider students whose primary goal is to earn an MA.

Q: I would like to be considered for admission to the program beginning in Spring semester.

A: Please note that we no longer offer admission for the spring semesters, so admission to the program for the spring semester is not an option.

Q: I am interested in getting my Ph.D in Sociology and was wondering if I would be able to join the program at the University of Maryland If I have a MS in Legal Studies?

A: We consider any student who has completed at least a bachelor's degree, and regardless of in what field your degrees were completed.

Q: How long does it it take to complete the degree? 

A: Students enrolled in the program full time should complete the degree within 5 years.

Q: Do I have to take more classes because of my background in Journalism? Or the PhD will be as it is?

A: This is a “no” with a small caveat: While you are not required to have taken any classes prior to your admission to the program, we do recommend that students entering the program have a background in 1) Math through college algebra; 2) Elementary statistics; 3) Sociological theory; and 4) Sociological research methods. So, although you are not technically required to have these courses, they are highly recommended so that you are not too far behind the rest of the entering class when you begin the program.



Q: Is the program available to do on an extended, part-time basis to earn the PhD?

A: Regarding your question about the possibility of doing our program part-time, it is very unusual for us to have students who are able to successfully complete the program part-time. There are several limitations that our students encounter when trying to complete the program part-time and so we only ever admit a student to attend the program part-time if we are sure that their personal circumstances would still permit them to progress through the program without hardship.

Q: If I already have a master's degree in sociology from another institution, can I transfer that in and reduce the program length for the PhD in sociology at UMCP?

A: While credits cannot be transferred or included when you are admitted to our program, the department may elect to waive you from one or more of our required courses based on the graduate coursework that you have completed to date. If you are accepted into our program, you may submit the syllabi of the courses that you have taken and we will review them to see whether the content of the course is sufficient enough to waive you from any of our required courses. However, due to the intensive review we have to conduct, we only review these syllabi in the summer prior to your matriculation. So, if you are considering our program, you must first be admitted to the program and declare your intent to enroll before we can review your syllabi.

Q: Is there financial support for new Doctoral Students?

A: Yes, we offer Graduate Assistantships (GAs) to students we admit to the program. GAships are renewable pending good progress in the program.

Q: When or at what time are the classes usually given?

A: Our seminars are usually given in the early afternoon and evening (the earliest being at about 2pm and the latest being a 7pm start time).



Q: I have less than a 3.0 GPA. Is there any chance I can still be admitted to the program even though I don’t meet your requirement?

A: The 3.0 GPA requirement is one that we can elect to waive for someone who we believe is a strong candidate for admission. However, with that being said, you should also know that our program is very competitive; we typically receive over 220 applications for 10-12 spots in our incoming class.

Q: I also wish to have a bit of information on what do you look for in the admission materials as well as the statement of purpose. Any help to have a successful application will be helpful.

A: In terms of successful applications, while our application process is generally a holistic one (meaning we consider all things you submit equally), overall we are looking for students who seem like they would be a good "fit" at Maryland. Therefore, we would highly encourage you to include in your personal statement a at least a paragraph about your research interests and how they match up with what Maryland has to offer, tell us the names of professors that you would be interested in working with, and tell us what specialty areas you would be interested in pursuing. This will help us better understand whether Maryland would be a good place for you.

Q: I was curious if you could help me find out the average of median GPA and GRE score of students accepted into the sociology program at Maryland for graduate study.

A: Unfortunately, we do not publish the averages for either the GPA or GRE for our admitted students. However, I can tell you that most of the applicants who are admitted to our program typically have a combined verbal and quantitative score of 1200 or above on the old test, or above a 315 on the new test. The Graduate School also requires that a student have at least a 3.0 undergraduate GPA in order to be admitted without provision to any of the University of Maryland's graduate programs.

Q: How much of a deciding factor is the GRE? Are there cutoff scores? Are GRE section scores more important, or is the combined score more important?

A: The GRE is just one of the factors that we consider in an application, but since our application process is so competitive (we typically get over 200 applications for 10-12 spots in our incoming cohort), you will likely want to have a strong GRE score in addition to strong overall qualifications. Successful applicants to our program typically have at least a combined verbal and quantitative score of 1200 or above or 315 and above.

Q: I just have a quick question on how you treat the GRE for people who have taken it more than once. I wasn't sure if you look at just the top scores, the most recent scores, or if you average them all together.

A: We consider the top score from each section of the test. So, if you scored higher on the verbal on your first try and higher on your Quantitative section on your second try, we would consider those two high scores regardless of test date.

Q: I have a question about the TOEFL score: what is the lowest required TOEFL score for the doctoral program?

A: The Sociology Ph.D. program only considers applicants who have met the requirements for unconditional admission. The Graduate School has set the minimum TOEFL score for unconditional admission is 100.  The minimum IELTS score for unconditional admission is 7.  Complete TOEFL and IELTS requirements are detailed here: http://gradschool.umd.edu/sites/gradschool.umd.edu/files/uploads/ibt-and-ielts-requirements-spring14.pdf


Q: Where can I send my transcripts and other mailed materials?

A: Please mail all materials to the following address:

Enrollment Services Operations

Attn: Graduate Admissions

0130 Mitchell Building

University of Maryland

College Park, MD 20742


Q: I am finishing my degree this semester and therefore cannot provide you with a complete transcript of my academic record. What should I do?

A: Please submit your transcript that reflects all possible academic work to date and we will review it as is. If you are admitted to the program, we will simply ask that you provide a final transcript within a certain timeframe after your matriculation.

Q: I have a transcript from my institution that is encrypted. What should I do? Should I still upload it to the application? 

A: No, do not upload an encrypted transcript to the application. It will upload as a blank document. The program will not be able to use it for its evaluation. Please print the document, scan it, then upload a scanned version.

Q: There has been a problem with my GRE scores, and my official scores will be sent shortly. In the meantime, I am attaching my GRE scores to this e-mail.

A: While we cannot accept the scanned copies of your test scores, it is good that you have resolved your issues with the ETS and that your scores are on their way. We will look for them to arrive soon.

Q: I’ve already sent my GRE scores once, but my application still shows that they have not been received. Can you check to see if you have received them?

A: Please do not worry; we try everything in our power to locate the first set of scores that were sent to us and to avoid asking applicants to send multiple copies since we know how costly it can be. Sometimes our computers are unable to match up GRE scores to a record for a variety of reasons, and all we need is some basic information from you to see if we can locate them by hand. First, can you verify that your scores were sent to our institution code (5814)? If they were, can you tell me the approximate date that your scores should have been sent to our institution?  Check with ETS to see which CYCLE number the scores were sent with. Did you take the test under a different last name?  This information will help us as it is easiest to target our search by the date we should have received the scores. If you can verify and provide me with this information, I will pass it on to our Enrollment Services Office to see if they can locate your scores. They typically get back to me within 24 hours. If they are unable to locate your scores, then we can talk about the possibility of you submitting a copy of your score report directly to us.

Q: I checked with DHL, the company managing my post, and they confirmed that the package with my transcripts have been received at the enrollment services office at UMD, College Park. Can you confirm their receipt?

A: Due to the large volume of mail that the Enrollment Services office receives in December and January, there is a small processing delay that occurs between the time that materials are received and the time they are reflected as received on your online application. The volume of mail also makes it difficult for us to track down materials that are in process. This delay is normal and anticipated, and students are given a grace period of about two to three weeks after the deadline to account for the mail delays. Please continue to monitor your online status via the ASF. If you do not see your transcript showing as received before the end of January, please feel free to contact me and I will make an inquiry to the Enrollment Services Office on your behalf as to the whereabouts of your transcripts.