Boston University undergraduates studying sociology go on to interesting careers or further training across all disciplines. Graduates of the MA and PhD programs pursue careers in academia, obtaining professorships at schools including Johns Hopkins University and College of William & Mary. Our graduates also pursue careers in non-academic positions, including recent placements at the Department of Justice and City of Boston. Take the first step toward your future and apply today!
Studying sociology gives students a deeper understanding of the world around them, teaching them to look at everything from a new perspective. Through this program, students receive valuable research, writing, analytic, and professional skills that prepare them for careers across many fields. In all of our classes, students will meet accessible and internationally renowned faculty, welcoming peers, and supportive staff.
How to Apply
The department is not involved in the undergraduate admissions process. Students interested in applying to Boston University should seek assistance from the BU Admissions Office.
Graduate study in Sociology at Boston University includes both a Master’s and a PhD program. Building on core knowledge in social theory and in research methods, students specialize in diverse subfields within Sociology. Students pursue original research that contributes to the field, laying a foundation for academic and non-academic careers.
The interests of our students reach from the city of Boston and New England to Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa. Recent dissertations and current work have explored such topics as gentrification of two Boston neighborhoods and the role that middle-class families with children play in this process; diversity and privilege through the eye of young people growing up in an elite suburban community in Massachusetts; cultivation of refined tastes in US elite food consumption; earthquake risk-driven urban transformations in Istanbul, Turkey and their effect on precarious service workers; transnational aid programs reliance on local labor in Jordan; role of transgender community in Thailand in ushering transnational medical tourism to this country; public health programs to combat non-communicative disease burden in Sierra Leone; war-related volunteer work in contemporary Ukraine; and suppression of religious pluralism in post-Soviet Central Asia.
The program emphasizes core knowledge and theory as well as rigor and innovation in research. The research and teaching interests of the faculty facilitate diverse research agendas for students.
How to Apply
Students interested in applying for admission to any graduate degree program in the Sociology Department should begin by consulting the guidelines available from the Boston University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
The graduate program only admits students in the fall. The current application deadline is January 19th, 2024. All applications must be submitted directly to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
Applications must include:
- Graduate School Application Form;
- Transcripts from each college or university attended;
- A Personal Statement, clarifying your interests, experience and educational objectives;
- Writing Sample; and
- Three Letters of Recommendation from people who know your academic work.
**Please Note: Submission of official GRE General Test scores is not mandatory and does not factor into an applicant’s admission decision. However, if applicants take the GRE General Test, applicants can submit the scores if they so choose.
The Department of Sociology is committed to building a robust multicultural environment for teaching and learning and strongly encourages women and people from underrepresented groups to apply. Applications from international students are welcome. Proof of English proficiency is required of all applicants by submitting official results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). For more information about language proficiency requirements and frequently asked questions, please visit the Graduate School’s website.
Please direct all graduate admissions inquiries to email@example.com.
Sociology PhD Admissions FAQ
- Can I apply to a PhD program if I only earned a Bachelor’s degree?
- Yes, any well-qualified person with a four-year bachelor’s degree from a recognized college or university or with equivalent international education may apply. If you hold a 3-year Bachelor’s degree, you may be required to complete a 1-year’s Master’s degree program or post-graduate diploma in a relevant subject, according to the Graduate School page. However, you may still apply if your 3-year Bachelor’s degree was earned in First Division from an institution accredited by India’s National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) with a grade of “A” or better. https://www.bu.edu/cas/admissions/phd-mfa/apply/frequently-asked-questions/
- Am I eligible to apply for the PhD in Sociology if my previous degree was not in sociology?
- Yes, you can apply even if your bachelor’s or Master’s were not in Sociology. But since we prioritize admission to students with solid preparation for graduate work in Sociology, make sure you explain not only why you want to obtain a PhD in Sociology but also demonstrate your ability to think and write in sociologically relevant ways in your personal statement and writing sample (see below).
- What funding/financial support is available for Sociology PhD students at BU? What funding is available to international students?
- Every admitted student, irrespective of nationality, is given a minimum of 5 years of full funding for 8 months (two semesters) plus an additional $5000 summer fellowship. The current rate and additional details about funding see this: https://www.bu.edu/cas/admissions/phd-mfa/fellowship-aid/aid-for-phd-students/
- Can I apply for an application fee waiver? Yes, please look here whether you qualify:
Transfer of credits
- I will be applying with a Master’s degree. Will I be able to transfer any of my graduate classes, or will I have to go through all of the coursework at BU?
- You would be able to transfer up to 32 credits (equivalent of 8 elective courses), which is half of your expected coursework, pending evaluation and approval by the Director of Graduate Studies. But all of the required classes (classical and contemporary theory, qualitative and quantitative methods, and proseminar) have to be taken in-house.
- Am I a good fit for BU Sociology?
- We are a mid-size department with faculty working in many subfields of Sociology but not all. You should start your search for a suitable PhD program by looking at departments’ faculty pages to learn about faculty research and interests. If you find at least two or three members of the faculty whose research excites you and from whom you would want to learn, you are probably a good fit. Here are our faculty pages. We also encourage you to look at our current PhD students’ profiles and those of our recent alumni.
- Do I have to contact professors whom I would like to advise/supervise my work before applying?
- You are not required to but you may contact the faculty in whose work you are interested and to assess a possible mentoring relationship.
- Can you provide me with some additional guidelines on the personal statement?
- Your personal statement is probably the most important piece of your application . We read it carefully. It should clearly signal your motivation to pursue a PhD in Sociology, your research agenda, your capacity to frame a research question and to situate that question in the relevant literatures, and demonstrate how that research agenda can be carried out at BU. That being said, it should be concise, aim for no more than 2 pages single-spaced or a maximum of 1000-1200 words. We recommend that you have colleagues and mentors read and help you edit it.
- What are the guidelines about the writing sample?
- We do not have specific guidelines but expect that a writing sample is no longer than an article-length paper (20-25 pages double-spaced, not including tables and references). Please do not submit your whole Master’s or undergraduate honor’s thesis, but rather edit it for length, or provide an excerpt.
- Do you accept recommendation letters sent by Interfolio?
- No, not according to the Graduate School FAQ. This may change, so please check back with the Graduate School. This decision is not up to the department.
- What sorts of evidence do you accept for English Proficiency?
- Is the online Duolingo test accepted as proof of English Proficiency?
- Yes, again see the details here: https://www.bu.edu/cas/admissions/phd-mfa/international-students/
- Do I qualify for a waiver for the standardized English testing requirement?
- Again, please check here: https://www.bu.edu/cas/admissions/phd-mfa/international-students/
- My transcripts are from another country. What are the rules about translating them?
- For all international transcript-related questions please check here: https://www.bu.edu/cas/admissions/phd-mfa/apply/frequently-asked-questions/transcripts-letters-of-recommendation-and-personal-statement/
- While filling the application, do we have to send the official transcripts or can we attach unofficial ones?
- Please see the answer here: https://www.bu.edu/cas/admissions/phd-mfa/apply/frequently-asked-questions/
- Do you require the GRE?
- The GRE is optional, we do not require it and we do not factor GRE scores in making our admission decisions.
- How many students typically apply to your program?
- Each year we review about 200 applications.
- How many students are admitted?
- We offer admission to approximately 10 students with an expectation of a cohort of 5 or 6.
If you have other questions, first check with the Graduate School FAQ page and only if you do not find an answer there, email Sociology Department Director of Graduate Studies Prof. Alya Guseva firstname.lastname@example.org