Application Information for Prospective Students

Graduate work at the University of Pennsylvania is conducted through graduate groups formed according to different areas of study. These groups, administer programs leading the to the AM and PhD degrees. Those seeking a graduate degree (Sociology students earn their MA on the way to the PhD, we do not offer a terminal Master's degree) in Sociology should apply to the Graduate Group in Sociology. It is also possible to earn a dual PhD in Sociology and other disciplines. For example, some students earn a dual PhD/JD or dual PhD/MD. Students must be accepted into both programs. It is also possible to earn a joint degree, for example, some students earn a joint degree in Demography and Sociology, by satisfying the requirements of both graduate groups, and writing a single dissertation. Other students have obtained joint degrees in Sociology and Education, and Sociology and History(although this is less common). Students seeking a joint PhD combining Sociology with some other field must be admitted in that field (as well as Sociology); this can occur after admission to the Sociology program; and in any event must be done with the consultation of the Chair of the Graduate Group in Sociology and the Dean of the Graduate Division, School of Arts and Sciences. 

In addition to other materials specified on the admissions site, the application process requires a personal statement and writing samples. There are no specific length or spacing requirements for either the personal statement or the writing sample.

In the personal statement, all Ph.D. applications within the Graduate Division of Arts & Sciences should address the following:

Please describe how your background and academic experiences have influenced your decision to pursue a graduate degree and led you to apply to Penn. Your essay should detail your specific research interests and intellectual goals within your chosen field. Please provide information about your educational trajectory, intellectual curiosity and academic ambitions. If you have overcome adversity and/or experienced limited access to resources or opportunities in your field of study, please feel free to share how that has affected the course of your education. We are interested in your lived experiences and how your particular perspective might contribute to the inclusive and dynamic learning community that Penn values and strives to create.

In the Sociology Graduate Group, we also ask that you discuss your research interests, including the work you have done and the topics or projects you’re thinking of for future work. We encourage you to list any faculty you are particularly interested in working with. Typically, personal statements are around 2-3 pages single spaced (or up to 4 pages double spaced).

Most writing samples are articles or chapters. There is no word or page limit.

 Regarding faculty advising availability:

  • As of Fall 2022, Professor Annette Lareau will not be directing dissertations or regularly offering graduate seminars, but she is happy to serve on committees and meet regularly with doctoral students to discuss their work.
  • As of Fall 2023, Professor Dorothy Roberts will not be directing dissertations, but she is happy to direct Master’s theses.

All other faculty are available to take new students. It is not necessary to email individual faculty members before applying.

For further questions about the admissions process, please contact our Graduate Coordinator Kailey Caldwell at


*The deadline for applications this year is December 15, 2023 at 11:59pm. No applications submitted after that time will be considered*


The electronic application and guide to the process can be found here. 

For further information visit:

Admission and Financial Assistance

Applications to the Joint Degree Program

The Graduate Division of the School of Arts and Sciences - general information, policies, and application information for prospective and current graduate students.

Online Application System

Campus Express at Penn - A one-stop shop for many essential student services After reviewing these websites, if you have further questions or need more information please contact the office of the graduate coordinator at the number/email address above.