University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The Berkeley Sociology Graduate Program is the heart of our collective enterprise as a department. We have been able to recruit superlative students year after year thanks to the efforts of the University, the faculty, and our current graduate students. Students who come here find a graduate program that has been carefully designed to offer them a rich and complete sociological education, while simultaneously allowing space and incentives to explore and develop their original ideas.

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Applying for Graduate Admission

Thank you for considering UC Berkeley for graduate study! UC Berkeley offers more than 120 graduate programs representing the breadth and depth of interdisciplinary scholarship. The Graduate Division hosts a complete list of graduate academic programs, departments, degrees offered, and application deadlines can be found on the Graduate Division website.

Prospective students must submit an online application to be considered for admission, in addition to any supplemental materials specific to the program for which they are applying. The online application and steps to take to apply can be found on the Graduate Division website.

Admission Requirements

The minimum graduate admission requirements are:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;

  2. A satisfactory scholastic average, usually a minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) on a 4.0 scale; and

  3. Enough undergraduate training to do graduate work in your chosen field.

For a list of requirements to complete your graduate application, please see the Graduate Division’s Admissions Requirements page. It is also important to check with the program or department of interest, as they may have additional requirements specific to their program of study and degree. Department contact information can be found here.

Where to apply?

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page.

Admission to the Program

Applicants must hold a bachelor of arts degree or its equivalent from an institution of acceptable standing and may hold a master of arts in Sociology or another field. Previous concentration in Sociology is not required.

The department does not accept applicants interested in a terminal Master of Arts in Sociology; this graduate program leads to the PhD.

Official TOEFL score reports must be sent directly from Educational Test Services (ETS).  The institution code for Berkeley is 4833. Official IELTS score reports must be mailed directly to our office from British Council. TOEFL and IELTS score reports are only valid for two years. 

Additional Required Documents for Applications (continued from above)

4: Graduate Record Examinations (GRE): For 2024-25 admissions cycle, the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) will be optional. 

5. Statement of Purpose: Please describe your aptitude and motivation for graduate study in your area of specialization, including your preparation for this field of study, your academic plans or research interests in your chosen area of study, and your future career goals. Please be specific about why UC Berkeley would be a good intellectual fit for you.

6. Personal History Statement: In an essay, discuss how your personal background informs your decision to pursue a graduate degree. Please include any educational, familial, cultural, economic, or social experiences, challenges, or opportunities relevant to your academic journey; how you might contribute to social or cultural diversity within your chosen field; and/or how you might serve educationally underrepresented segments of society with your degree.

7. Writing Sample: One Writing Sample of your work in English (e.g. term paper, thesis, publication). Written work should be non-fiction and conducive to evaluation on its own merit. Admission committee members are especially impressed with writing samples that attempt to link theoretically informed arguments with empirical evidence. The average length is 15-20 pages. 

8. Three Letters of Recommendation: Please provide three letters of recommendation from social science faculty members who are familiar with your recent work.

Doctoral Degree Requirements

Required Courses

Students are required to take a minimum of eight courses for the MA. An additional three courses for a total of eleven courses are required to receive the PhD. In their first year, most students are required to take the methods sequence (271A-B-C) and the theory sequence (201A-B). Students who receive special consideration may fulfill all or part of the Methods requirements through a combination of exams, exercises, and/or written work. This option is discouraged because the 271A-B–C sequence is unlike similar sequences offered elsewhere. Students without a previous MA who are exempted from a methods course still need to complete an alternate course in its place. 

Additional course requirements include two 280s (pre-MA, introductions to subfields), one 273 (post-MA) advanced methods course, and three additional elective courses. Some recommended courses are SOCIOL 202s (advanced theory), additional 280s or 290 (special topics). In addition, two graduate-level, sociologically relevant, 3 or 4 unit courses are allowed from a department outside Sociology.  A minimum of 35 units is required to complete the PhD program.  Finally, no more than two substantive, letter-graded independent study 299s are allowed toward the 11-course PhD requirement. 

Students Entering with an MA

Students who enter the program with an MA must meet with the director of graduate studies during their first semester in the department to work out an acceptable program of study. Normally, students who enter with an MA take the five courses required of students seeking the MA at Berkeley (i.e., Sociology 201A, 201B, 271A, 271B, and 271C) or petition for special consideration as described above. Most students also take two other courses (280s). Students who are exempted from one or more of these required courses must still take a minimum of three courses at the MA level.


SOCIOL 200Proseminar1
SOCIOL 201AClassical Social Theory3
SOCIOL 201BModern Social Theory3
SOCIOL 271AMethods of Sociological Research4
SOCIOL 271BMethods of Sociological Research3
SOCIOL 271CMethods of Sociological Research3
SOCIOL 280Two Subfield Courses Required6 total
SOCIOL 273 One Advanced Methods Course Required3
SOCIOL Electives Three Elective Courses Required9-12 total

Normative Time Requirements

Normative Time to Advancement

Normative time to advancement is the end of the fourth year (eighth semester) in the program. Normative time to complete the masters paper is the fifth semester in the program (must also have completed eight of the eleven required courses before this time). Normative time to complete the qualifying examinations is seventh semester in the program (must also have completed the eleven required courses before this time).

Normative Time in Candidacy

Normative time in doctoral candidacy is two years.

Total Normative Time

Total normative time is six years.

Pre-Candidacy Academic Milestones

Master’s Paper

The department requires students to write a master’s paper to receive the MA degree. This paper needs to be approved by an MA committee composed of two to three faculty members. Sometimes these research papers begin as coursework, but the finished product is significantly more developed than a typical term paper.

Qualifying Examination

The purpose of the qualifying examination is to ascertain the breadth of the student’s comprehension of fundamental facts and principles that apply to theory and at least two subfields of sociology. It also determines whether the student has the ability to think incisively and critically about the theoretical and practical aspects of these subfields.


The dissertation prospectus is the last requirement that graduate students must meet before advancing to candidacy. The prospectus is a description of the proposed dissertation research. Through the prospectus, students articulate the topic and research question that motivates the dissertation research; explain why this question is of importance to the relevant fields of study; and describe as thoroughly and succinctly as possible their research design.

Time in Candidacy


The student assembles a committee that generally consists of two regular sociology faculty, one of whom will serve as chair, as well as one regular member from another department at Berkeley. The research project is carried out and analyzed in dissertation form. Most dissertations go through several drafts. Once the committee members accept the final draft, the work is signed and submitted to the Graduate Division as complete. There is no formal defense of the completed dissertation.

Required Professional Development


First-year students attend SOCIOL 200. This proseminar offers an introduction to the faculty and the discipline as well as advice about completing the requirements of the program.

Teaching Opportunities

Students are encouraged to teach during their graduate study in the program as part of their professional training. A significant number of our undergraduate courses offer graduate student instructor (GSI) positions. The department offers training for our new GSIs through our pedagogy course (SOCIOL 375). New GSIs are required to attend the Teaching Conference for First-Time GSIs each year and are encouraged to attend further offerings through the GSI Teaching & Resource Center on campus, including their Certificate Program in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.

Professional Development Activities


Students are strongly encouraged to attend the sociology colloquium series. The departmental colloquium is generally a who’s who of contemporary sociology. Attending these talks is a very efficient and lively way of getting an overview of the discipline. It is also a means by which students are introduced to the profession.


The department offers a variety of workshops (SOCIOL 292) each semester which is formed in collaboration with faculty and interested students. Topics cover a variety of subfields and topics, such as immigration, race, economic sociology, gender, archival methods, qualitative data analysis as well as mathematical, analytical and experimental sociology. New workshops are often arranged according to student interests.

Professional Conference Attendance and Presentation

Each year our students attend and present at conferences relevant to their research interests, including the American Sociological Conference and the International Sociological Conference, among others.

Job Market Workshops 

Our PhD students have been extraordinarily successful in obtaining research and teaching positions in research-oriented universities as well as more teaching-oriented colleges. A smaller but significant number have pursued careers in research institutes, business, government, and nonprofits.

To prepare for the current job market, we encourage students to produce publishable research papers early in their studies, master both quantitative and/or qualitative research techniques, and gain relevant teaching experience. Students also benefit from presenting their own research in department workshops and at professional conferences.

We encourage all students who are about to enter the job market to attend our departmental Job Market Workshops. These workshops are designed to help locate both academic and non-academic job openings as well as post-doctoral positions and refine application materials. The workshops also help students prepare for the job talk and understand the interview process.



Contact Information

Department of Sociology

410 Social Sciences Building

Phone: 510-642-4766

Fax: 510-642-0659

Visit Department Website

Department Chair

David Harding

410 Social Sciences Building

Phone: 510-642-4766

Head Graduate Advisor

Cihan Tugal

410 Social Sciences Building

Director of Student Services

Anne Meyers

428 Social Sciences Building

Phone: 510-643-4630

Graduate Advisor

Catherine Norton

422 Social Sciences Building

Phone: 510-642-1657

Graduate Admissions & Curriculum Advisor

Amie Thach-Acik

410 Social Sciences Building

Phone: 510-642-1445

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