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The Ph.D. in Sociology

The sociology Ph.D. program promotes excellence in research with the goal of training the next generation of scholars to join the professoriate. Through coursework and close mentorship, we train graduate students to combine a sociological imagination with methodological breadth and sophistication to produce groundbreaking empirical research. While we train students in a variety of theories and methods, the graduate program is focused on the following areas of substantive expertise:

  • Health and Medicine
  • Social Movements

Program Features

  • Low student-to-faculty ratio allows for personalized instruction and mentorship.
  • All students accepted into the program are fully funded for five years, including a graduate assistantship that provides the opportunity for one-on-one mentorship and experiential learning.
  • Opportunity to learn the ins and outs of publishing through work on the scholarly journal, Work and Occupations, which is edited in our department.
  • Close ties to interdisciplinary research centers and programs at Vanderbilt.

All first-year Ph.D. students are assigned an adviser who supports students on their professional, intellectual, scholarly, and social transition into and integration with the department, the college, the Graduate School, the university, and the discipline.

Applying to the Program

The Vanderbilt Ph.D. program in sociology ranks among the top programs of its kind.


An undergraduate degree from an accredited, four-year institution:

  • A minimum 3.0 GPA
  • A passion for researching and teaching about human society
  • A desire for an academic career
  • Talented writing and public speaking skills
  • Good time management skills
  • Ability to work well under pressure
  • Proficiency in English (if English is not your first language- TOEFL score above 570 must be demonstrated)

Information to Submit

  • GRE verbal and quantitative scores
  • Transcripts from prior undergraduate and graduate work
  • TOEFL scores (if English is not your first language)
  • Statement of Purpose. This is your opportunity to tell us why you are choosing us, and why we should choose you. What is it about our program that fits with your career aspirations? Be specific about your research interests, faculty you would like to work with, and your career goals.
  • Sole-authored writing sample that demonstrates your ability to communicate complex sociological ideas and draw inferences from empirical research
  • Three letters of recommendation

The application cycle opens on August 1 and ends on January 1. The application fee is $95, and student apply through the Vanderbilt University Graduate School. More information about the application process can be found on the Graduate School website.