Welcome!  We are pleased to learn of your interest in our graduate program in Sociology at Michigan State University. We have an exciting program composed of 22 graduate faculty and approximately 30 graduate students in residence. Although we have a diverse range of teaching and research areas represented in the Department, we have particular strengths in Environment, Health and Medicine, and Migration. Our strength is augmented by outstanding affiliated sociologists in James Madison College, the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the College of Education. The Sociology graduate program prepares graduate students for a variety of career options in academic and applied settings by providing a solid basis in foundational sociological knowledge as well as cutting edge research methods and sociological theories.

New full-time students are admitted for the fall semester only. Students may apply for financial assistance in the form of teaching assistantships, research assistantships, or university fellowships. The number of assistantships available to students varies from year to year. It is highly competitive.

Applicants to the Department of Sociology PhD Program must have all required Sociology application materials submitted and your application fee paid to be considered for admission. We will be using email to communicate with you during the application process. Please check your email regularly. The deadline for submissions of applicant materials is November 1 for the upcoming fall semester. Admission and funding decisions are announced in early April. Other detailed information regarding the application follows.

MSU provides resources for students who are undocumented. Visit this site for more information:

 Pre-Admission FAQs


How to Apply

Go to the Michigan State University Admissions Application and apply to the Department of Sociology PhD Program - Major Code: 4536.

Application Uploads

LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION - (Graduate Education Portal)

(3) Letters of Recommendation addressing the applicant’s academic and professional potential should also be submitted by your recommenders. Your recommenders will be prompted to fill out an online rating questionnaire. Instructions on entering the recommender names and contact information are below:

  • Log in to your Admissions Graduate Education Portal. Put in your applicant ID (top right hand corner of page). Your applicant ID is emailed to you when you have submitted your application.
  • Click on “Letters of Recommendation” which is located under the Control Panel.
  • Enter the names and contact information for each recommender.

Recommenders will receive an email immediately after you add their name and email address into the LOR system on your application with instructions on accessing the Online Letter of Recommendation rating questionnaire. Recommenders can upload their letters of recommendation after they answer the questions as a recommender.

If needed, applicant can go into their Graduate Education Portal and resend an email to their recommenders who have not responded. They can also check the status of their LORs.

FILE UPLOADS-APPLICANT - (Graduate Education Portal)

  • An Academic Writing Sample such as a course paper or article from 10-25 pages in length.
  • Resume/CV 
  • A personal statement (500-1000 words) that explains the following questions: How has your life experience led you to the fields of Sociology? How has your background prepared you for success in graduate school?
  • An academic statement (500-1000 words) that explains the following questions: What is your primary field(s) of interest in Sociology? Why do you think that MSU would be a good fit for your graduate education? Which faculty member(s) in the department do you expect to study with and why? How do you anticipate that your graduate studies in Sociology at MSU will prepare you to achieve your career goals?
  • File uploads, Writing Sample, Resume, Academic Statement, LOR requests, and e-messages are all available in the Graduate Education Portal, not in the application. You can access the Admissions Graduate Education Portal under the Miscellaneous tab at the top the Graduate Application, and then under References.

Submitting Transcripts

  • Non-MSU Students/Graduates - The University requires one official transcript from all colleges and universities you have ever attended. Applicant will need to contact all universities/colleges attended and have official transcripts sent to
  • Current MSU Students/Graduates do not need to order official MSU transcripts. Transcript will be obtained from the MSU Registrar’s Office.
  • Applicants from Chinese Universities, please see the detailed information on the Graduate School website - applications from China.

Test Scores

  • We do not require any scores from the GRE General Test or the GRE Subject Test in Sociology.
  • Official TOEFL test scores are required for international students. Reported scores must be no older than 2 years. Institution code for Michigan State University is 1465.

International Students

  • Statement of financial proof (PDF) “International students only”. Financial Proof is needed to request an I-20.
  • We require students to begin their programs in the Fall semester, as our orientation program and course schedule is geared to that, although some international students may wish to use the preceding summer to take English language courses.
  • US Degree Equivalency - Admission to a graduate degree requires completion of a level of education comparable to a four-year U.S. bachelor’s degree. High Scholastic standing and suitable preparation for the intended field of study are also considered. Normally, Michigan State University does not accept three-year bachelor’s degrees, diplomas or certificates as comparable to a four-year U.S. bachelor’s degree.
  • Additional Information for International Students can be found here.

Decision Dates

  • You can inquire about the status of your application using the Admissions Graduate Education Portal. Admissions offers will be sent out by early April. A few offers may be made after mid-April.
  • The cost to apply online is $65 for domestic and $75 for international applicants.