The following provisions govern acceptance:
Criteria: Candidates are evaluated based on academic motivation for pursuing graduate study; academic performance; alignment of research interests with department strengths; research capability; and evidence of initiative. Admission is highly competitive with approximately six to eight students who enroll each year from the available pool of applicants. Each application receives careful attention and is judged in terms of the full set of criteria.
A limited number of graduate course units taken elsewhere may be considered for transfer into the graduate program. These units are transferred on a course-by-course basis.
Updated October 2023
Submit the following to USC Graduate Admissions online application:
1. Online University of Southern California application form plus a $90 application fee. There are several ways to qualify for an application fee waiver (e.g., documented financial hardship, McNair Scholars). Fee waivers can take up to 5 business days to process, so please be sure to apply well in advance of the application deadline. You can find detailed eligibility categories and instructions here.
2. Official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work.
3. For international students, a TOEFL score.
4. One example of written work (normally a paper written for a course) of no more than 20 pages.
5. Three letters of recommendation from persons who can write about your academic performance and your potential as a social scientist.
6. Personal Statement: Describe (1) your present sociological interest, (2) the instructors, books, and/or journals that have had the greatest influence on your interests in sociology, and (3) what you hope to be doing in the field of sociology ten years after you receive your degree. Please include any other aspect of your experience that you want to include. (2-3 pages long)
Most admissions for graduate study are for “regular” status. On occasion, however, an applicant may be admitted on “conditional” status so that some deficiency can be removed and proficiency demonstrated. When this occurs, up to 12 units of specified performance in graduate or undergraduate course work may be required and/or steps must be taken in order to qualify for acceptance as a “regular” student.
Completed applications must be submitted to the university by December 1st. The application portal is on Eastern Standard Time. All applications received by December 1st will be considered for selected university fellowships.
GRE Scores are not required.
Official English-language proficiency scores must be received directly from the testing service and must be dated no earlier than 2 years prior to the start of your intended first term at USC. We do not consider applicants with TOEFL scores below 100.
Describe (1) your present sociological interest, (2) the instructors, books, and/or journals that have had the greatest influence on your interests in sociology, and (3) what you hope to be doing in the field of sociology ten years after you receive your degree. Please include any other aspect of your experience that you want to include. (2-3 pages long)
Prospective students who have been admitted to the program for the following year are invited to attend a Visit Day, typically held in late February or early March.
We admit approximately 20% of our applicants and our entering cohorts average 4-6 students. We typically have about 40 active graduate students. In 2016-17 approximately 60% of students were women, one-third were traditionally under-represented ethnic or racial minorities, and one-fourth were international students.